By JOE LoTEMPLIO
---- — PLATTSBURGH — The two most anticipated primary races in Clinton County this year feature battles for two City of Plattsburgh Common Council seats.
Timothy Carpenter will face Rachelle Armstrong for the Democratic Party line in Ward 1 of the city, and Justin Meyer will go up against Kathryn McCleery for the Democratic line in Ward 3.
There will also be a primary in Ward 6 for the Independence Party. James Wemette is the listed candidate, and voters can choose him or write in any other name.
WARD 1 MATCH
The Ward 1 race is perhaps the most interesting, as newcomer Armstrong won the party endorsement at a caucus in March over incumbent Carpenter in a move that surprised many.
Carpenter was elected in 2007 and again in 2010. He ran for State Assembly last year but lost.
The winner of Tuesday’s primary, with 738 registered Democrats in Ward 1, will face Republican William Ferris in November.
Armstrong said she got into the race because “I felt I could do a better job.”
A retired educator, she said her strengths are her willingness to engage people and to research issues to find the best possible solutions.
“There seems to be more and more concerns about the city and the direction it is going in,” she said.
“We need to be innovative and resourceful about ways to bring more money into the city.”
As far as the possibility of dividing the party by taking on an incumbent, Armstrong said she is not concerned.
“I hope that we can find some common ground in all of this,” she said. “But I also think that this is indicative of a healthy democracy, that we have competing ideas.”
Carpenter, a state correction officer, said he believes he has proven himself in his time on the council and has been fiscally responsible in helping keep taxes stable.
He said it is not accurate to say that there is no development in the city, and he rattled off more than a dozen projects that have been undertaken since he has been in office, including a major expansion of Bombardier, construction of College Suites, an expansion of Bill McBride Chevrolet, Catherine Gardens senior housing, several drug stores, a Subway restaurant, a dollar store and the re-location of Murnane Building Contractors.
“There is a lot more development going on in this city than people realize, and that helps our tax base,” he said.
Carpenter also said he was instrumental in solving serious fiscal problems at the Municipal Lighting Department and Plattsburgh Public Library.
“I’ve proven I can be pro development, fiscally responsible and that I can work with all parties,” he said.
In Ward 3, Meyer and McCleery are vying to run against Republican Dale Dowdle.
Incumbent Republican George Rabideau cannot run again due to City Council term limits.
There are 747 registered Democrats in Ward 3 eligible to vote in the primary.
Meyer, a Plattsburgh attorney, said he wants to hold the line on taxes and continue to deliver sufficient services to city residents.
He also said he will work on relationships with city employees and City Hall.
“It is very important that we mend those relationships,” he said.
McCleery ran for mayor against incumbent Republican Donald Kasprzak and lost badly in 2010.
She said she has been actively involved in the New York state legislative process since the 1960s, when the Taylor Law was first enacted, detailing how all municipal employees are to be treated, which got her involved locally wherever she has lived.
“But mostly I’ve learned to listen. Every citizen deserves to be heard, and everyone’s opinion matters,” she said.
In the Ward 6 primary, Wemette, who is also running as a Republican, carries the advantage of being listed alone on the ballot for Primary Day.
Josh Kretser, who will be on the November ballot as a Democrat, hopes to win the Independence line as well on Tuesday.
Incumbent Democrat Chris Jackson will also be running as a write-in independent candidate. He changed his mind and decided to run after the Democrats had selected Kretser.
Kretser and Jackson are both urging Independence Party voters to write their names in on Primary Day.
There are 71 Independence Party voters in Ward 6.
Wemette, who works at Westelcom, said he wants to implement the business management model known as Lean Six Sigma.
“When implemented as a policy, Lean Six Sigma is proven to greatly reduce costs, improve productivity and the quality of services provided by city governments across the nation,” he said.
Kretser, who owns pod studio, a planning and design firm in Plattsburgh, said he would like to see more investment in the city’s Community Development Office.
“To be a success, the office needs dedicated political support and leadership. With that level of support, the office can bring in funds from other sources,” he said.
Kretser said the city also needs to address a lack of parking and national retail and lodging establishments downtown.
“Ward 6 needs a new, dynamic, forward-looking representative to forge links between the council and business,” he said.
Jackson said he will try to win the Independence Party primary.
“I will be contacting Independence Party voters personally, discussing my proven record of success and requesting that they write my name in on the ballot,” he said.
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