Candidates for mayor eye development

GLOVERSVILLE – As they prepare to meet in the Nov. 5 general election, the two candidates running for mayor of the city have both said they are looking to help foster more economic development.

The September primary victories gave incumbent Mayor Dayton King, 35, the Republican and Conservative ballot lines in the Nov. 5 general election. He also will be on the independent People’s line.

King graduated from Fulton-Montgomery Community College in 1998 and then graduated from SUNY Oneonta in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He has held other jobs since taking office, but he presently is working full-time as mayor.

Former city Councilman-at-Large James Handy will run in the general election as an independent candidate on the Working for You line.

Mike Ponticello, who was previously endorsed by the city Republican Committee, will not be on the ballot, having sought only the Republican line.

Handy, 74, is a registered Republican and resident of 23 Alexander St.

Handy currently is on the Planning Board. He served as the city’s 5th Ward councilman from 2004 to 2005 and as councilman-at-large from 2006 to 2009.

He graduated with an associate degree in electrical technology from Hudson Valley Community College and worked on computer programs for Fulton County, Beech-Nut Foods, IBM and Unisys System. He also is an active member of the city Lions Club and one of the founders of Railfest with former Mayor Frank LaPorta.

He said he remains upbeat as his campaign aims to get a bounce from Democratic voters in the general election.

Gloversville has 2,465 registered Republicans and 1,895 registered Democrats.

Both candidates said their primary objective as mayor would be to bring jobs of all skill levels to the city and more development.

King said taxes would go down in the city next year, and he has already introduced a proposed budget that would lower taxes by nearly 2 percent. King said he aims to forge a stronger relationship with the city of Johnstown and expressed a desire to have the Gloversville mayor serve on the Fulton County Board of Supervisors.

If King is re-elected in November, he would be the first mayor in the city to serve a second term in more than 40 years.

According to the city website, the last mayor to be re-elected was Richard H. Hood, who served from 1962 to 1969.

Handy said he has great character and is honest, which will help bring the city together to face the challenges ahead of it.

Handy said one of those challenges is the lack of jobs and he intends to do everything he can to have more created if he is elected. To accomplish that, Handy said he would petition and approach companies outside the area to establish business here.

Gloversville property owners pay the highest city tax rate in upstate New York, according to a report by the Empire Center for New York State Policy.

City property owners with property in the Gloversville Enlarged School District pay a combined $52.70 per $1,000 of assessed value in city, school and county taxes.

King said it took him a few years to understand aspects of the job of mayor, such as interpreting union contracts.

However, King said he is happy the city has been able to keep taxes flat the last two years, and is proposing a budget that would reduce taxes. King said that would be possible because the city has been careful to not spend foolishly and has built a healthy reserve of $3.4 million.

Handy said the new Walmart Supercenter and other development expected around it will improve the city’s tax situation by increasing revenue, and city officials must continue to be careful about how they spend money.

If elected, Handy said, he would try to reduce taxes by sharing services and utilizing revenue sharing agreements to help bring in new businesses that would provide sales and property taxes.

“The tax rate prevents a lot of people from moving here,” Handy said. “If we can share services, we can cut costs.”

Handy said he believes the city Department of Public Works is understaffed and members are doing the best they can with the staff they have. He said hiring one or two workers would improve the way city looks to visitors and improve the quality of life for those already living here.

Handy also said the Police Department could use more officers because society in general has become more prone to crime.

“We can’t put a price on human life,” Handy said. “We need to show the presence of our law enforcement here in the city.”

Handy said he understands there are limitations in the Fire Department contract, but he believes they are a valuable resource due to the proximity of homes within the city.

Handy said he would seek to modify or remove the minimum staffing clause within the firefighters contract to save the city money.

“We have to maintain the safety levels and hopefully we can get the [fire chief] and everyone to work together,” Handy said. “We need to save costs, but not reduce the safety.”

King said he is proposing in his tentative 2014 budget to hire an additional police officer and new deputy building inspector.

He said the capital projects for this year will reduce the burden on DPW and allow them to continue providing quality services to the city with better equipment.

King also said he would like to modify or remove the minimum staffing clause to save money.

Handy said he would like to create jobs by bringing some type of industry back to the city.

He said he would court businesses, such as those in the growing electronics and chipmaking industry, to try and get them to move into the Glove Cities Industrial Park.

King said he patronizes local businesses and refers residents to them through his Facebook page and will continue to do so.

King said the key to marketing the city is to reach out to people outside Gloversville.

“We need to start marketing to the Capital Region and work closer with the Chamber of Commerce,” he said.

King said he’s excited for what the future holds in the area around Walmart Supercenter, and believes within the next five years several other businesses will jump on the trend to build along Route 30A.

King said he played an important role in building cooperation between different municipalities to have the supercenter project move forward, and he will continue to cooperate with surrounding municipalities as long as it is beneficial to all parties.

“We have to share expenses and revenue to make things work,” King said. “It has to be both – we can’t just give.”

King said he hopes in his next term there can be some progress in consolidating the Common Council and ward supervisor positions to allow city officials to have input on the county level as well.

Handy said he is also in favor of King’s suggestion to lower the number of supervisors, although he doesn’t necessarily believe the mayor should be on the board.

King said being available through Facebook and providing his cellphone number has allowed him to interact with residents of the city and be aware of the issues that concern them.

“I really pride myself on being visible and accessible to anybody,” King said. “I’m always available.”

Handy said when he was going door to door people told him that they would like the mayor to have regular office hours, which is something he would set.

He also said he would like to hold quarterly “ward meetings” so each ward would have a time and day to present issues they are having in their area in an organized fashion.

King said while he doesn’t have regular hours, he is always available by appointment.

Both candidate’s said if elected they would make the mayor position their number one priority and only job.

King is first in available funding. The Re-elect Mayor Dayton King committee has raised $5,962, of which $3,527 has already been spent, according to the website.

King said he will purchase more radio ads as the elections nears and he has already put up more than 300 lawn signs throughout the community.

Handy said most of his campaign money has came out of his own pocket, and he doesn’t have any type of campaign committee, but according to the state website, his total available funding was $3,424, and he has already spent $3,370.

The position of city mayor carries a four-year term and pays a yearly salary of $39,839.