Council Candidates Talk About Role Of City Government

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We begin with newcomer Stephen Jennings.

Jennings believes Watertown has a poverty problem and it is the city's duty to diminish that poverty.

To do so, he believes government should target what he calls "neighborhoods in distress."

"Law enforcement, education and healthcare and bring them all together and look at the particular neighborhoods and develop solutions -and do it with the people that live in those communities," said Jennings.

Incumbent Jeff Smith sits on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Smith says the city can't take on a role that big; it just doesn't have the money.

He believes the city's job is to provide basic services like police, fire, infrastructure and recreation.

"We're not equipped and designed to perform those kinds of functions. If we were to expand that role, it'd be the largest and biggest increase in cost in the city government's history. I'm for more of a limited government, providing the functions that we do now and trying to do it in the most efficient manner," said Smith.

Incumbent Teresa Macaluso agrees with Smith in that respect, saying the city isn't responsible for those social programs. 

But she does believe the city needs to take a more active role in attracting business to downtown, although she was light on specifics.

"I think we need to offer more incentives for people to want to do business downtown...It's probably not realistic to get some of the stores at the mall downtown. But there are a lot of areas where quaint little shops make a difference," said Macaluso.

Newcomer Cody Horbacz isn't in favor of an approach like Jennings suggests either, but he says the city should be concerned with impoverished neighborhoods and poverty in general. 

Like Macaluso, he says the city needs to take a more active approach to attract good paying jobs to the area.

"We need to ask - why do we have poverty? I think the answer is: we don't have many good paying jobs. What can the city government do to attract some good paying jobs to the city? We can take some of the money we've been using for PILOT programs for low income housing and we can redirect that to try to attract some business into the community," said Horbacz.

The election is next Tuesday.

The top two vote-getters will get the two open seats on the council. 

We're doing live interviews on 7 News at Noon this week with each of the candidates.

See Jennings' interview

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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