PLATTSBURGH — Though all had seemed quiet on the Republican front, two candidates have now announced campaigns for City of Plattsburgh mayor, with Scott Beebie taking home the Plattsburgh City Republican Committee's official endorsement.
That vote came after Thursday night's Committee Endorsement Meeting in the Old Clinton County Courthouse on Margaret Street.
It was Beebie, who had officially announced his campaign at a press conference earlier in the day, and local businessman Nadim Dergham who vied for the endorsement.
Eight committee members voted by secret ballot for one of the two candidates and, per tallies by Clinton County Board of Elections Republican Commissioner Greg Campbell and Clinton County GOP Committee Chair Clark Currier, the majority went to Beebie, earning him committee support.
"I feel honored," Beebie told The Press-Republican after hearing the news. "It's actually humbling to see the amount of support that I've garnered in the last couple of hours.
We have a long road ahead of us, so, it's surrounding yourself with fantastic people in order to work towards a common goal."
In November, the City of Plattsburgh will vote for its next mayor, a seat currently held by Democrat Colin Read.
As of mid-February, three Democratic candidates had thrown their hats into the ring, including incumbent Read, downtown businessman Tenzin Dorjee and local student Miles Davis.
No Republican candidate had been announced prior to Tuesday, Feb. 13, as of which both Beebie and Dergham had stepped forward.
In recent years, the City of Plattsburgh has had a strong Democratic presence, electing Mayor Read in 2016, but, prior to that election, the mayoral spot had been held by a string of Republicans, including Jim Calnon and Donald "Donny" Kasprzak.
To get in on the Tuesday, June 23 primary, candidates of either party would need to gather signatures from at least 5 percent of city voters registered within their respective party lines.
Candidates could start seeking signatures as of Tuesday, Feb. 25 and were expected to file them between Monday, March 30 and Thursday, April 2.
'I STAND READY'
Beebie, 51, retired as a Plattsburgh City Police Department Lieutenent in 2017 after a 28-year-long career with the department.
It was during his tenure there, he announced at his Thursday afternoon press conference, that he helped monitor a multi-million-dollar budget and tackle a range of personnel issues, as well as work closely with the SUNY Plattsburgh community.
Through a series of community organizations and coalitions, the retired Lieutenant said he helped find solutions to local issues, like student housing and the consumption of drugs and alcohol.
"My goal in running for the office of mayor is to focus my experience and skills on best serving this city," he said. "I understand the nature of the many problems that can beset a small city.
I stand ready to work with the experienced managers, staff, councilors and citizens in a cohesive, cooperative manner to achieve sustainable progress towards clearly identifiable goals."
If elected, Beebie said the budget was at the top of his priority list.
"That's going to be a primary focus — it has to be," he said, adding that finding new ways to generate revenue could be the difference, such as using the Saranac River to the city's fiscal advantage.
And, he said, joining forces with the City of Plattsburgh's "municipal brothers and sisters," like Clinton County and the Town of Plattsburgh, would only be to the Lake City's benefit.
"We have to work together cohesively to market our brand; our brand is the region of Plattsburgh," Beebie said. "We need to be more effective in communicating with our partners and working hand-in-hand towards positive growth across the board.
Not just the city, not just the town, but the region itself."
Dergham felt he'd be a good fit for mayor, because he would run the municipality like a business.
The local businessman immigrated from Lebanon in 1975 and has operated a variety of North Country-based businesses, including Ground Force One Automotive on Rugar Street and the International Currency Exchange at Champlain Centre.
"Taxpayers cannot afford to pay for all of our services anymore, they can't afford to pay anymore taxes — we have to generate some kind of revenue from elsewhere," he told the city's Republican Committee on Thursday night.
And to get that revenue, Dergham felt the City of Plattsburgh, which he considered to be a "gem," would do well to market itself as a tourist destination.
"For too long we've taken it for granted," he said. "I think its time the city started to promote itself."
'NO HARD FEELINGS'
Though Dergham didn't earn the Plattsburgh City Republican Committee endorsement, the city resident said, as of Thursday night, that he was still considering running for the spot and hoped to launch his official campaign in coming days.
The 60-year-old Republican expressed some upset over the committee's handling of its endorsement and said he felt blindsided by Beebie's Thursday afternoon announcement.
"I just felt I should have been given a heads up," he told The Press-Republican following the endorsement session. "But no hard feelings — this is politics and I'm new to it."
Should his run for mayor be unsuccessful, Dergham said he would seek public office in some capacity in order to "serve his community."
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