Ruggiero announces bid for Watertown mayor

Ruggiero runs for Watertown mayor
Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 10:33 AM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Surrounded by family, friends and supporters at the Paddock Club in downtown Watertown, current city council member Lisa Ruggiero announced Tuesday she’ll be throwing her hat in the ring to become the city’s next mayor

“Watertown needs somebody who needs a steady hand at the helm, that will help guide the city over the next 4 years,” she said.

Ruggiero joins her council colleague Sarah Compo Pierce in the race.

During her speech, she continually criticized Compo Pierce’s relationship with current Mayor Jeff Smith, citing the two haven’t had the city’s best interest at heart

“My opponent and the mayor continually play political games and it’s at the city’s detriment,” she said.

Ruggiero and council members Cliff Olney and Patrick Hickey, who are aligned on many issues, have been criticized over their “yes” votes to purchase the former Watertown Golf Club for $3.4 million.

Compo Pierce and Smith continue to say the deal was done behind closed doors, was rushed, and that the three majority members silenced the public from speaking about it at a December meeting.

Ruggiero says residents had several opportunities to speak in public sessions before that meeting.

“There are many, many issues that affect the city and we are not a one-issue city,” she said. I hope that people see that difference.”

Ruggiero says if elected, she also wants to focus more on public safety, tackle the homeless problem, and bring what she says is a positive approach to the city’s assets.

“That’s why I’m announcing tonight that I am running to be your next mayor of the city of Watertown,” she said. “Thank you.”

Ruggiero first started on council in 2018, won a second term that started in 2022, and has two years left.

Ruggiero has been a strong advocate for city pools, playing a big role in getting the new city pool in Thompson Park built, and is in favor of revamping the Flynn Pool on the city’s north side. Both projects cost around $3 million.

Most recently, Ruggiero helped steer the city into the $3.4 million deal to buy the Watertown Golf Club, along with dozens of acres around it.

“I am not one of these people that will participate in political games. I believe in doing the job and I believe in being the best mayor that you can be and put politics aside,” she said.

Compo Pierce announced two weeks ago she would run for mayor. It’s the first time two women have run for mayor. If either wins, she would be the first woman to serve as Watertown’s mayor.

Compo Pierce’s term is up this year, so she would no longer serve on council if she loses her bid for mayor.

If Ruggerio loses, she would be able to serve out the last two years of her term.

Current Mayor Jeff Smith opted not to seek reelection.