Compo Pierce announces run for Watertown mayor; Smith won’t seek reelection

Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 11:31 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Watertown city council member Sarah Compo Pierce has tossed her hat into the ring for mayor.

And she’s being endorsed by the current holder of the seat.

Compo Pierce made the announcement Monday evening in front of family and friends at Watertown’s Italian American Association.

“It’s clear the time is right for a new generation of leadership on the Watertown city council,” Compo Pierce said. “That’s why tonight, I am pleased to announce that I will be running for mayor.“

She says the debate over the Watertown Golf Club purchase spurred her decision. Compo Pierce has been a vocal opponent of the deal, saying there has been a lack of transparency during the process.

“Private meetings behind closed doors, silencing the public when they came to speak about it, and just keeping the public in the dark for a lot of the process and it’s not the way government should be run,” she said.

Compo Pierce was appointed to fill a vacant seat on the council in 2019 when then-council member Mark Walczyk won a state Assembly race.

Compo Pierce won the seat in an election that fall. Her council seat is up this fall, but she will instead run for mayor.

Late last year Compo Pierce considered a jump to the Jefferson County Legislature to fill the seat left when Scott Gray won an Assembly seat. She chose to stay on the council and let on then that she was thinking about running for mayor.

Mayor Jeff Smith and Compo Pierce have been allies on council and he has thrown his support behind her bid to be mayor. Also endorsing Compo Pierce is former Mayor Joe Butler Jr.

“She is a quiet, humble, well-respected young woman in the city of Watertown,” Butler said. “I think she will do a great job as the first female mayor.”

As for his decision not to seek a second term as mayor, Smith said, “Over the years I teased of maybe running again, but when I first ran four years, and when I talked with former Mayor Butler ... I was going to run for one term,” he said.

Smith says he has accomplished a lot of the things he campaigned on, like finding a plan for the city’s hydroelectric plant.

“If I look back at my campaign platform, and what I campaigned platform, and what I ran on, I pretty much accomplished everything on that platform,” he said.

No other candidate has entered the mayor’s race at this time, but council member Lisa Ruggiero has hinted at a run.

Ruggiero tells 7 News that she’ll be “making a decision soon.”

Aside from mayor, there are two seats up for grabs on city council. Compo Pierce’s seat and council member Patrick Hickey’s.

Hickey’s two years are up and he says he will be running for reelection.

Calling himself the “calming influence,” he says he’s ready to focus less on the politics and more on issues like drugs and homelessness.

“I’m pretty calm. I don’t get involved in the political fight at city council. I am someone who will listen, and I’m certainly a candidate who will do whatever he can do to help satisfy your issues in the city,” he said.

Leonard Spaziani, who finished out Jesse Roshia’s term in April 2021, has already announced he’ll be running.

Amy Horton, who ran in 2021, is considering joining the race and says she will make a decision soon.

Others who have inquired, according to the county Board of Elections, are Jason Traynor, Michael Wratchford, and Robert Kimball.

The video above is our report from 7 News This Evening at 6 p.m. Below is the video from our later newscasts.

Watertown City Council Races