Gloversville voters will elect 13 officials in the upcoming Nov. 8 election, but they’ll be making a choice in only two of the races: The Ward 1 Council and Ward 5 supervisor seats, where political newcomers challenge incumbents.
OFFICE SOUGHT: Gloversville Ward 5 supervisor
BALLOT LINES: Republican, Conservative
EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Bachelor’s degree from Catawba College; master’s degree in education administration from The College of Saint Rose; retired McNab Elementary School principal
PERSONAL: Two children attending Gloversville schools
OFFICE SOUGHT: Gloversville Ward 5 supervisor
BALLOT LINE: Moderate
EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Associate’s degree in applied sciences from Fulton-Montgomery Community College; bachelor’s degree from SUNY Institute of Technology; certified public accountant, government auditor; four-term incumbent supervisor
PERSONAL: Two sons
George Walker III
OFFICE SOUGHT: Gloversville Council, Ward 1
BALLOT LINES: Republican
EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Associate’s degree in general studies from Fulton-Montgomery Community College, current Empire State College student; direct support staff, Lexington Center, Fulton County Chapter
PERSONAL: Married with three children
OFFICE SOUGHT: Gloversville Council, Ward 1
BALLOT LINES: Democrat, Community Roots
EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Associate’s degree in human services from Fulton-Montgomery Community College; three terms as Ward 1 councilwoman; medical social worker assistant at Community Health Center
Ward 1 Council
Longtime Gloversville resident George Walker III, a newcomer to local government, is challenging incumbent Robin Wentworth for her Ward 1 Common Council seat in the upcoming general election.
Wentworth, who is running on the Democrat and Community Roots lines, seeks her fifth term as councilwoman, and said she has the experience required to best serve her constituents.
“I have worked hard over the last four years and have gained a lot of knowledge about what a council member needs to do, what a council member can do, and some of the obstacles to what you really can’t do,” she said. “So I would like to be able to continue with the work that we’ve started over the last four years.”
As a council member, Wentworth said she has helped bring the city’s spending under control and worked with her colleagues to finalize previously stalled projects like the new Walmart Supercenter.
Wentworth also spearheaded discussions in area school districts, along with police, on the hallucinogenic herb salvia divinorum. After hearing about Gloversville teenagers abusing the drug, Wentworth initiated legislation that eventually passed, banning the sale and possession of the substance in the city of Gloversville.
“There’s not always just one person completing things,” she said. “I think the council at this time is a very strong and cohesive group and we work together well as a group, and we share information among us and I think that’s very important.”
Wentworth wouldn’t delve into a recent public spat between her and Mayor Dayton King, which began when he posted a private email regarding a meeting agenda item on his Facebook wall two weeks ago.
But he left out the entire email thread, as well as context, she said.
“I really don’t want to comment on it,” she said. “People should know that the council among itself gets along really well. Among the seven council members, we work very well together.”
But Walker, a Republican, said it’s time for a new face on the council. He’s lived in Gloversville since 1997 and said the position is something he’s been interested in, especially given the current relationships between council members and the mayor.
“It seems like a lot of bickering between council members and the mayor and things just not working and people not on the same page all the time,” Walker said. “It just seems like a lot of foolish nonsense that has gone on over the last few years where people seem to attack each other rather than just solve issues.”
One of the issues he hopes to solve is blight within the city. He said that although the Fire Department is involved with some aspects of the battle on blight, the department is overworked as it is and developing a position to specifically address the issue is a good start.
During his campaign, Walker said he has knocked on doors and listened to the concerns of residents within his ward. Everybody is taxed to their limit, people need and want jobs, and crime in the city has overwhelmed them, he said.
“Obviously this is all new to me, and so it’s hard to give any experience with that stuff,” Walker said. “I want to keep things professional, honest and open. I want to listen to people in my ward. I want them to give me a call and actually offer their opinions so we can discuss it with everybody.”
When he decided to run, Walker began attending Common Council meetings at City Hall twice a month.
He said he has noticed that frequently, members will roll their eyes or challenge resolutions.
“The public sees this and they wonder why people don’t want to get involved in local politics,” he said. “They just get tired of the nonsense. So I’m hoping to work together with everybody. I don’t care what party someone’s from. Let’s put our heads together and get some things done in here.”
Ward 5 Supervisor
Retired McNab Elementary School Principal Michael Ponticello is vying for Ward 5 supervisor, a position currently held by four-term incumbent Michael Rooney.
For Rooney, it just makes sense to stay on. As former city of Gloversville commissioner of finance and a certified public accountant with five years of governmental auditing experience, he said he is best suited for a job that requires tax analysis.
In his role on the Fulton County Board of Supervisors, he proposed using tobacco settlement monies instead of fund reserves to balance next year’s budget, a move that would help reduce the tax levy at the county level and lessen the burden on taxpayers.
“There’s a lot of new stuff that can be done,” Rooney said. “Often, people push for the newcomers because they want fresh ideas. But I never run out of ideas.”
He said the biggest problem Gloversville faces is not just blight or crime or unemployment. The root problem for city residents is a low per capita income, he said. Once that is fixed, many other issues would cease to exist.
For example, if the city’s cheap and decaying housing stock were demolished, a higher-income contingent would move in and a lot of crime would move out, he said.
“Gloversville is a vacuum for the impoverished,” Rooney said. “They have nothing to lose, and so many turn to crime. We have an excess of houses going cheap, and that means the landlord can’t afford to keep up with maintenance and so you run into blight. And then you have a high level of impoverishment. It’s a cycle.”
Ultimately, Rooney said the residents of his ward deserve a supervisor with a remedy list, not a wish list. It’s not enough to wish there were more jobs and no more blight, he said.
He said he continues to be re-elected as Ward 5 supervisor because he’s a CPA and he understands taxation.
“And this is a tax job, isn’t it? I think that it’s important to have a CPA represent your tax dollars,” he said.
Ponticello, who is running on Republican and Conservative lines, said he has made decisions for his community for 34 years. He retired last year after 11 years as principal at McNab Elementary School. And before that, he served as a coach and teacher in the Gloversville Enlarged School District.
Born and raised in Gloversville, he said he feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to hold a career in his hometown.
“I have a strong allegiance to the community,” he said. “I’ve always had an interest in being a part of making decisions for our community.”
Ponticello said he’s pursuing the position not because Rooney has done a good or a bad job, but because it’s something he has always been interested in and until he retired he never had the time or the opportunity to run.
At both the city and county level, people want to see more economic development, more jobs, and more revenue coming into their communities, Ponticello said.
He said that Gloversville has a good housing market, schools and hospitals to attract suppliers of high-tech industries in the area, like the Chip Fab plant in Malta.
“We certainly have the space in Gloversville,” Ponticello said. “We have many vacant old factories that if presented correctly I’m sure would create a structure that they would be enticed to look at us and maybe fill one of those existing buildings.”
Like most Gloversville residents, Ponticello said he is disgruntled with the things affecting Gloversville: crime, blight, taxes. Along with being able to make an impact directly in his ward, he said he looks forward to representing a bigger population as well, as a member of the Fulton County Board of Supervisors.
“I just feel very strongly that I want to make a difference by being in this position,” he said. “I don’t want to be on the sidelines so to speak, but in the game and able to voice my opinion and have a strong vote.”
The other candidates this year are running unopposed.
• Incumbent Marie Born is running for another term as Ward 1 supervisor, on the Democratic and American Spirit lines.
• Incumbent Frank Lauria Jr. is seeking the Ward 2 supervisor seat on the Democratic line.
• Newcomer Arthur J. Simonds will seek the Ward 2 Council seat, taking over for Councilman John Castiglione, who is stepping down.
• Incumbent Michael Gendron is running for another term as Ward 3 supervisor on the Republican line.
• Taking over for retiring Ward 3 Councilman Donald Ambrosino will be newcomer Stephen Mahoney, running on the Democratic line.
• Charles Potter is running for the Ward 4 supervisor seat after defeating incumbent Shirley Savage in primary voting. He is running on the Republican and Conservative lines.
• Incumbent Ellen Anadio is seeking re-election as Ward 4 councilwoman on the Republican and Universal lines.
• Incumbent Jay Zarrelli is seeking re-election as Ward 5 councilman on the Republican line.
• Incumbent Richard Ottalagano is running on the Democratic and Conservative lines for Ward 6 supervisor.
• Wrandy Siarkowski is seeking re-election to his Ward 6 Council seat on the Republican line.
• Robert Renda and incumbent Stephen Mauro are running for two seats on Gloversville’s Water Board.
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