By JOE LoTEMPLIO Press-Republican
---- — PLATTSBURGH — City of Plattsburgh Democratic candidates put forth a platform of growth, vision and cooperation at a news conference Saturday morning.
“We promise to have an open-door policy for all who live and work in the City of Plattsburgh,” mayoral candidate Mark Tiffer said on the steps of City Hall.
“We will create an inclusive environment that will empower individuals and encourage community participation.”
Tiffer, a councilor from Ward 2 who was elected in 2010, heads the Democrats’ ticket that features candidates running for each of the six wards. The hopefuls were endorsed by the city party committee at last Tuesday’s caucus.
Rachelle Armstrong, a retired educator, is running in Ward 1. She was given the endorsement over two-term incumbent Timothy Carpenter in a surprise outcome.
Armstrong said the city is facing some serious challenges and needs to be proactive and look to improve services in her ward.
“I am concerned about the lack of services and accessing basic needs,” she said.
Armstrong said the city needs to attract more small businesses and tourism opportunities, and she would like to see a branch of the Farmers Market locate in the south end of the city.
Carpenter, upset with the party’s decision to endorse Armstrong over him, said it appeared that the party did not appreciate his ideas of fiscal responsibility.
Michael Kelly, a former councilor from Ward 2, is running to regain his old seat.
Kelly served on the council from 2008 to 2011 with Carpenter, and he said Carpenter’s comments about fiscal responsibility were unfounded.
“There is no evidence that city Democrats have been any less fiscally responsible than Tim Carpenter was,” he said.
Kelly said he is running again because he missed representing the ward.
He said he believes the city is a great place to live, but could be even better.
“We already have the infrastructure in place, we just need to expand on that,” he said.
Adding more bicycle and walking trails and other opportunities to enjoy the environment are areas he wants to explore.
“If we have 2 percent of people riding bicycles to work then we need to look at how we can make it 4 percent or 6 percent,” he said.
“Let’s have those discussions.”
Ward 4 candidate Paul O’Connell said he is a lifelong resident of the ward, and looks forward to speaking with other residents.
O’Connell is retired from the state Department of Corrections and has been a local baseball umpire for several years.
“I have an open-door policy. If you want to talk about things, come and see me,” he said.
In Ward 5, Becky Kasper, who served on the city’s redistricting committee last year, is running.
Kasper said the four pillars of her platform are: collaborate, investigate, innovate and development.
“We have to think outside the box and look to people who know how and find ways to make development happen,” she said.
Joshua Kretser, owner of Pod Studio, is running in Ward 6.
Kretser, 34, said it is an exciting time for his ward, which is home to the city’s art district on Brinkerhoff Street near Margaret Street. The historic Strand Theatre is slated to re-open as a renovated performing arts center later this year.
Kretser said attractions such as that are key.
“We need to find ways to help attract and retain more young professionals,” he said.
The Ward 3 candidate, attorney Justin Meyer, was attending a wedding out of town and did not participate in Saturday’s news conference.
Party Committee member Patricia Bentley said Meyer will bring many strengths to the council.
“He understands how the law and business works,” she said.
Tiffer, 29, will be seeking to replace Mayor Donald Kasprzak, a Republican who decided not to seek re-election.
Tiffer said he will be a decisive leader.
“We deserve a mayor who inspires, innovates and who truly believes in the potential of our community,” he said.
“I have the necessary leadership and communication skills to effectively motivate and energize our community. I have the vision and foresight that can create and implement a master plan. I am a passionate and tenacious individual who finds a way to overcome challenges.”
Tiffer also said he will “work with the city’s unions to come to a fair agreement for all without the added cost of arbitration and litigation.”
Kasprzak has had several disputes with the city’s unions, namely the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Plattsburgh Permanent Firefighters unions.
City Republicans have yet to meet to endorse their slate of candidates.
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