By JOE LoTEMPLIO
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Mayoral candidate Chris Rosenquest says he would use his business experience and skills to foster more economic-development opportunities and generate more revenue for the city.
“We desperately need economic growth, good-paying jobs and a government that is responsible to the taxpayers,” he said Wednesday morning at a news conference outside Plattsburgh City Hall.
“It’s not enough to talk about a vision. It’s time to implement one.”
Rosenquest, 38, is running for mayor as an independent candidate. He moved to Plattsburgh from Seattle earlier this month to do so.
He grew up in Plattsburgh, graduating from Plattsburgh High School, Clinton Community College and SUNY Plattsburgh.
For the past 14 years, he has been living away, spending the past six years in Seattle.
Rosenquest is part owner of SeattleBurlap, a business that collects used coffee bags for reuse in gardening, farming and landscaping, and also the founder and owner of Bicycle Heroes, a business that supplies clothing and accessories for bikers who commute to work.
He has a master’s in business administration from the University of Washington.
HAS THE SIGNATURES
Councilor and Mayor Pro Tem James Calnon (I-Ward 4) and Councilor Mark Tiffer (D-Ward 2) are also running for mayor. Calnon has the Republican and Independence Party lines, and Tiffer will be on the Democratic and Working Families Party lines.
Rosenquest said he has gathered more than 600 signatures to eclipse the 242 needed to get on the ballot as an independent candidate.
As mayor, he said, he would focus his efforts on improving the local economy and culture.
“Plattsburgh is filled with thousands of hardworking people who expect and deserve more from City Hall,” he said.
“We can become an economic hub for Upstate New York, and that’s going to take someone with the skills and drive to go beyond the status quo to make it happen.”
Rosenquest said the city needs more jobs, waterfront development, more small businesses and more growth among those already existing.
He said he would look for ways to deliver city services in a more cost-efficient manner.
“As a small-business owner, entrepreneur and technology manager, I have managed multi-million-dollar projects,” he said.
“I have a proven record of creating successful businesses and good-paying jobs, as well as developing innovative systems.”
Rosenquest said he would look to create internships in marketing, business, computer science and communications and would fully fund the city’s Community Development Office.
He also said he would work to improve the arts.
“I’ll work with arts, entertainment and community groups to help create opportunities and events where visitors from around the world can come and enjoy our hospitality, fantastic lake and unique culture,” he said.
“Together, we’ll create Plattsburgh as the cultural heart of the North Country.”
Calnon, 63, who has been a councilor since 2007, said the council has been able to keep the city’s finances in order in recent years despite rising costs of employee pension plans, dwindling state aid, the state tax cap and the loss of $850,000 per year in revenue from a longtime agreement with Saranac Power Partners, which expired in 2008.
“He (Rosenquest) talks about building a strong economic foundation; well, we’ve already built that, and we’ve done it in some of the hardest economic times this city has ever seen,” Calnon said.
He pointed to the city’s improved bond rating, healthy fund balance and modest tax increases in the past five years as proof that the city is in good fiscal shape.
“The previous six years before I came on the council, the tax rate went up a total of 93 percent,” Calnon said.
“It’s gone up 5.4 percent since I’ve been here; that’s less than 1 percent on average. If he (Rosenquest) had been here the last seven years, he would know that.”
But Calnon said having a third candidate in the race is good for voters.
“I welcome him to the race. This is democracy in action.”
‘PUT THE TIME IN’
Tiffer, 29, said Rosenquest seems to be touching on many of the same ideas he has touted in his campaign, such as utilizing students from CCC and SUNY Plattsburgh in city departments and bolstering the Community Development Office.
“A lot of the initiatives he is proposing are ideas I’ve been talking about for a long time now,” he said.
“The difference is that I’ve been here, and I’ve been involved in this community.”
Tiffer said his time on the city’s Green Committee and as a member of the Planning Board, as well as his past three years on the Common Council, have given him a strong perspective of what the city needs.
“I didn’t just decide to run for mayor,” he said. “I’ve put the time into this community.”
Email Joe LoTemplio:firstname.lastname@example.org