Mayoral candidates speak out

Rowback, King give their visions for Gloversville

Gloversville Mayor Dayton King. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)

Mayor Dayton King

GLOVERSVILLE — Mayoral Candidate Dayton King sat down with The Leader-Herald to speak about the upcoming mayoral election and about what he sees for a vision for the city four years from now under his leadership.

King will be running on the Conservative line on the ballot for the Nov. 7 election.

His interview is running alongside his competitor William Rowback Jr. The Leader-Herald asked both candidates similar questions about a variety of city issues.

The way the questions were asked did sometimes change to fit in with the ongoing conversation the interviewer had with both candidates.

William Rowback Jr. (The Leader-Herald/Kerry Minor)

Some of the answers have been condensed due to space limitations.

Below are the questions and answers from the interview.

What is your election message to residents?

“By every metric we have improved since I’ve taken office. When I started in 2010, we were really in a tough fiscal situation. Since I’ve been in office we’ve created a fund balance and we’ve invested in our infrastructure and our vehicles and equipment. More businesses have come in,” King said. “We haven’t increased taxes in seven years. A few of those years we’ve decreased taxes.”

King said that currently city officials are working together as a team, and people know what to expect.

“I think our team has proven leadership and things are getting better,” King said. “To change that now to someone who is unproven I think would be very detrimental to our city.”

Why do you feel you are the best candidate for the position?

“For me, I have been doing it successfully for eight years. I think there is no question that things have been going well,” King said. “I’ve certainly told some people no. There are people that I didn’t reappoint that I think will support my opponent no matter who they are.”

King said he feels people are comparing Rowback to King when he first ran in 2009.

“People say to me, ‘Dayton you didn’t have any experience in 2009.’ I’ve got an associates and a bachelor’s degree. I’ve had leadership experience before then. I think, you’ve got to compare the Dayton King in 2017 to Bill Rowback today. I think just by both of our experiences, I have a proven track record.”

“I think what I have created that separates me from Bill is the department heads and the Common Council and small businesses are really working together,” King said.

King said one of his biggest strengths is that he has publicized his cell phone both in the paper and online and has created a social media presence for constituents to reach out to him.

“People reach out to me every single day and every single hour and I’m very quick to get back to people,” King said.

King contends that there hasn’t been a week where he hasn’t worked 40 hours. He said to sit in an office, waiting for people to come in is not realistic. He said he is in the office, but schedules meetings to meet with people “just like any other CEO.”

“People know what to expect from me. They know that I’ll get back to them. I would say it takes two or three years to really understand how things work. I think if things are going miserably, sure go for my opponent no matter who it is. But I think in this situation it would be very hard for anybody to come in, who doesn’t have any government or any management or leadership experience, and to step in and think things are going to just keep going forward.”

King said a change in leadership may mean a change in the team at city hall. He said a new mayor may want to bring his own people in and others may decide they don’t want to work for a new mayor.

“I think if you elect a new mayor you are going to have potentially a new police chief, new fire chief, new city attorney, new mayor’s secretary, and some other people who may say throughout ‘you know, I knew what to expect from Dayton. I trusted Dayton. And now, I can’t work under this new leadership.'”

What are your biggest goals upon re-election?

“It has been our goal since day one to stabilize our taxes, and I think we are doing that. I want to continue to lower that. We might have a two percent decrease this year,” he said.

Public safety is another program King said he wishes to focus on. He said there are currently seven people at the state Police Academy in Albany that are scheduled to graduate on Nov. 30.

King said he wants to continue to get businesses into the city. He said in the next few weeks there are a number of ribbon cuttings for busineses that are opening soon.

“Since February 2010, I have been hitting the drum on consolidation and more shared services. I think that has to happen, and I think it will happen,” King said.

King said one of the biggest issues facing the city is the opioid epidemic. He said it is not just a city government issue, but one that needs help from partners like area schools and agencies such as the Family Counseling Center to make improvements.

“I think for most people that live in the city, they want basic services. They want to be able to dial 911 and have the police and fire show up. They want their garbage picked up. They want their leaves picked up. And we’re doing all those things,” King said. “We’re also providing more recreational opportunities for people.”

He said that while some may talk about bringing back manufacturing, those jobs are not coming back to New York State, since taxes are too high. King said the city needs to target up-and-coming businesses.

“It is all attributed to the way we are able to work together with each other. That is what people want from their federal government….but they’re not doing that. I think we’re doing that here locally. We’re getting along with each other. I think that is what you can expect more of, and I think it works very well.”

What do you see as

the biggest challenge

facing the city right now?

King said finances have always been and issue for the city. He said when he entered office the fund balance was a little over $1 million.

“Taxes are high and in order to be able to implement programs you need money. So bringing in businesses like the Walmart Supercenter, and Burger King and Shoe Department that’s huge, because it gives us some sales tax money. What we have done, and what we are going to do even more of in 2018 and beyond, is bang the doors in Albany to get more state aid here,” King said.

King said per capita Gloversville does not receive enough state aid. He said city officials have been lobbying Albany privately, but will likely have to start asking for more aid publicly going forward.

“If most reasonable people had all the information I had, they’d make the same decisions. But what happens is you get part of the answers, without all the rest of the information,” King said. “What I’ve tried to do is be transparent and get all the information out to people and let them ask questions and give honest answers. It is easy during an election year to buy somebody ice cream or promise that kind of stuff. But what you have from me is the last seven years of no tax increase, and a proven track record. Look back from 2010 to now, things have improved on every level. I would go as far as to say there are more businesses coming in during the last seven years, and probably more than within the last 20 before that.”

King said the success of the past seven years is due to the team that he is a part of.

“There are a lot of great people doing a lot of great things and there are dozens of people siding their houses and taking care of their neighborhoods. A lot of it is because they have faith that taxes aren’t going to keep going up. We have stabilized taxes. I think that is what separates us.”

How do you see your administration as

improving the city?

King said now is the time to start implementing and building on plans and investments that have been made in the past.

“People don’t plan to fail, but they fail to plan. We’ve laid some of that ground work. Now what we do is implement some of those plans. I think we set ourselves up under good leadership to keep hammering away on that stuff.”

King said he understands that the world is now one where people can get anything they want instantly via iPhones and other technology and expect that to translate into people sometimes expecting instant change.

“Change takes time. We are changing things. Things are going well. What my administration has done well is to really say we are working on some thing. Here’s some results, here’s some [more] results.

King said Gloversville is a community with people of low or limited income. He said there are people that want things instantly, but don’t want to pay for it.

“The balance is finding out how do we provide those services, how do we get back to people and how do we do those things,” King said.

King said he knows there are people out there who will not vote for him because he said no to their idea or removed them from positions in city government.

“I don’t like doing that. We give them chances to improve. But after a while in a small city, if you tell enough people no they’ll say, ‘We’ll take anybody new.’ Certainly for me, I think there is a drastic difference between myself and my opponent this year,” King said.

“However, this is my third time running, and if you do things, people get upset with you. If you didn’t have any enemies you probably didn’t do anything,” he said.

What do you want

voters to know

about you?

“I’ll meet with anybody, anywhere, anytime. I am very open minded,” King said.

King said that though he himself is a registered Republican, he has tried to be a mayor to all citizens of the city. He said locally there should be decisions made along party lines.

“I have lived here since 2000 and we are going to work hard. I think things are going well. And I am going to be honest about things and let people know where I am at at all times,” King said.

King said that other mayors haven’t been as transparent as he has been. He said improvements in technology and social media have allowed him to be more open.

“I think it’s easy to give rhetoric and say here is what I am going to do. But when you look back at my campaign promises we have come through with all the stuff I said I wanted to do, and will continue to do that,” King said.

He said change doesn’t happen overnight, but he tries to be as quick as possible to let people know what is going on, especially with situations like a sewer line break, so they know what they need to do.

“I just ask for [residents] continued support of my candidacy,” King said.

∫ Both candidates were asked if there was additional information they wanted residents to know. This is what King told the interviewer:

In regards to blight issues King said the city asked for a blight officer in both 2012 and 2013, but was told no by the previous council. He said in 2016, council members approved a Neighborhood Quality Administrator after the city got a grant for the position.

“We are tackling blight through that way,” King said.

“We are holding people accountable. We now have a Common Council that wants to invest in doing those things,” King said.

He said Fire Chief Tom Groff and Building Inspector Brandon Myers have partnered with other cities on a software program that links things together.

“Code enforcement is something we have been doing well, just not fast enough,” King said.

He said there are some things that are out of the city’s control, such as demolition of properties by the county. He said the city is already doing thing such as exemptions for foreclosed properties that are updated.

“A lot of the things that we are currently doing are working well. Given time to work on them, the progress will show,” King said.

King gave the example of the Estee Senior Housing project. He said over the years the city kept getting rejected for grants but kept applying.

“That’s an $8 million project and there are going to be 35 people living downtown,” King said.

King said consistency is key to moving things forward. He said when looking at businesses continually replacing the CEO every four years would be difficult for businesses.

“For me as a local taxpayer myself. If you’re not increasing taxes, safety is getting better and more businesses are coming in, what do you want to change to?” King said.

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William Rowback

GLOVERSVILLE — Mayoral Candidate William Rowback Jr. sat down with The Leader-Herald to speak about the upcoming mayoral election and about what he sees as a vision for the city four years from now under his leadership.

Rowback will be running on both the Republican and Moving Forward lines on the ballot for the Nov. 7 election.

His interview is running alongside his competitor, and current mayor, Dayton King. The Leader-Herald asked both candidates similar questions about a variety of city issues.

The way the questions were asked did sometimes change to fit in with the ongoing conversation the interviewer had with both candidates.

Some of the answers have been condensed due to space limitations.

Below are the questions and answers from the interview.

What is your election message to residents?

Rowback said he will be a “100 percent transparent full time mayor” who is available “24-7” for residents.

“I’ll have a schedule of where I am going to be everyday for the next four years, so all the residents will know where I am going to be, whether I’m in a meeting or in the office or at a city-wide function. But I will be available 24-7 for all residents,” Rowback said.

He explained he hopes to have his schedule posted on the city website, on social media sites and possibly through local media outlets like newspapers and local radio.

What are your goals upon election?

Rowback said he wants to bring pride and respect back to the city.

“I want to get all departments and city employees working together for a common goal,” Rowback said.

He said he wants to involve city residents in all aspects of moving this city forward, including getting their input on city policies and initiatives.

Why do you feel you are the best candidate for the position?

“I am a life-long resident. I have worked in the city for 28-plus years. I have been through several different administrations,” Rowback said. “I feel I have ideas that will move this city forward in a positive way.”

Rowback said he would like to see more resident involvement. He said he wants to find ways to use their ideas to move the city forward.

“I am a positive person. I am approachable, whether you have a negative comment to me, or how the city is being run, or an idea that our city officials have come up with. We can sit down and discuss this. Maybe we didn’t see all the different aspects of the idea that we brought forward.”

Rowback said residents may have a different or fresh view on a topic than a city employee or elected official might have. He said getting that input could help things run smoother.

He said he would like to implement town hall meetings to get the public more involved in what the city government is doing. He said that if a resident has a concern he will look into it. He said he is willing to sit down and discuss issues with residents and then take it up with the appropriate city officials or staff to see what, if anything, can be done and make a knowledgeable decision on which direction to go.

“We’ve got to hear the concerns of the residents and listen to them with an open mind,” Rowback said.

Rowback said he also wants to ensure that city employees are working together to prevent conflict inside or between departments.

“The way to move this city forward is to have everybody working together. I believe that I can do this.”

Rowback said he doesn’t want city employees to dread coming to work. He said he wants them to feel welcome and a part of the team in the city of Gloversville.

“That is going to be, probably within the first couple months, that is what I am going to be working on really hard, to show that the leadership in this city has changed in a positive way. To utilize the city’s assets with all the city employees. And listen to them, because a lot of them have been here as long or longer than I have.”

Rowback said how things run have been different at various times in the city. He said he plans to listen to employees for ideas on how some things can be done differently.

“They could change, or will change, for the betterment of our city,” he said.

Rowback said he will be a full time mayor and take no other jobs.

“I know what my salary is going to be on day one. And if I feel that salary I’m getting isn’t enough, why should I take that job. I already know what I am going to make,” Rowback said.

What do you think

is the biggest

challenge facing the city right now?

Rowback said there are a number of issues that are challenging: Infrastructure, the opioid epidemic, housing, jobs.

“A lot of it is the negativity. There are people in this city that say we’re doing better. But the negative part of it is… that is our nucleolus right now. We have to turn the negative around to a positive on everything,” Rowback said.

“There may be some things we do that don’t make a lot of people happy. I understand that going into this, running for the Mayor of the city of Gloversville. But if we listen to the people that feel the decision or direction that I am going in may be wrong, let them bring that to my office. Maybe I have overlooked something, or maybe the city itself — my team — may have overlooked one thing that we didn’t think of.”

How do you see your administration as

improving the city?

“First and foremost we are going to listen to the residents and see what the concerns are,” Rowback said. “You just can’t have a knee-jerk reaction to a problem that comes to the city. There are times when we have an emergency in the city, it is an automatic knee-jerk reaction to do something real quick.”

Rowback gave the example of the sewer break in the area of East Pine Street earlier this year. He said the city could have spent less money on the repairs if the project had gone out to bid.

“We had a period the state gave us because it was an emergency situation, but they gave us a certain period of time to start that project. We have to put things out to bid to make it more cost effective for the city of Gloversville,” Rowback said.

Rowback said he wants to see that go for any city government project from street paving to building demolition.

“If you do it above board, and get your bids in, even if it is an emergency situation. Publicize it…let them know when we need it so we can sit down as a council and take the bid that fits everything right to a “T“. Of course there will be hidden things or things that are not right on the surface, but those we can address afterwards,” he said.

What do you want

voters to know

about you?

“If you want a fresh perspective or a fresh start — someone who is 100 percent dedicated to the city of Gloversville — that has pride and respect for all residents, that will work tirelessly for the city of Gloversville, there is no other candidate that can make those claims,” Rowback said.

∫ Both candidates were asked if there was additional information they wanted residents to know. This is what Rowback told the interviewer:

“If there is any function that is promoted by the city of Gloversville, unless there is an emergency, I will be at it from the start to the end,” he said. “We need a leader that when something is going on is not afraid to get their hands dirty. Get in there and help, whether it’s the Railfest or parades or the Wine Festival, any function that is going to help bring pride and respect back into this city, I am going to be there. I’m not going to be there to get a photo op and leave. I feel my actions in the past show that I am dedicated to the city.”

Rowback said that at past events he has had people who just wanted a photo op, but he wants to be involved in events and projects in the city as mayor, beyond just a picture.

Rowback said he would like to bring back the Veteran’s Day Parade along Main Street.

“We need to recognize all our Vets. Whether it is the ones currently defending our country or going back to the oldest Vet we have. What I would like to do is have a float made up and get every veteran in the city of Gloversville out there. Get them on the float and let the city of Gloversville show our vets they haven’t been forgotten.

He said he would like to see more events like parades move to Main Street and bring back the festive atmosphere downtown.

Rowback said if homebound residents need to speak to him, they could call his office and he will come to their home to speak to them.

Rowback said that every city employee will be made to feel a part of the team.

“Every employee that retires from the city of Gloversville will be recognized,” he said.

Rowback said if the fire chief or police chief gets called to an emergency, he will be called in as well.

“If we have a natural disaster, whether it be a flood or blizzard, I have to dictate that there is a state of emergency and we will have a command post from when it is initiated to when it ends. We will have a phone system set up in case someone needs to contact us, we can let them know that certain streets are shut down or if it is a snow emergency to let residents know to get the vehicles off the streets so we can get the snowplowing done in a timely manner. The quicker we move the snow off the streets, the quicker we can begin removing the snow banks,” he said.

Rowback said he wants to see the city remove snowbanks from side streets as well as main roads.

“I am open to any idea any resident has,” Rowback said. “As your mayor I will work with every council member throughout my reign. If there is a media announcement, whether it is something that has gone on in our city, all council members will be advised to be at this,” Rowback said.

Rowback said that when the Estee Commons Senior Complex is completed, any one who helped see this project along will be invited to the ribbon cutting.

“I will not take any credit for anything that has been brought into this city if somebody else has the idea. I will give credit where credit is due,” he said.

Rowback said he wants to have more involvement with youth and seniors in the city. He said he wants to bring back various city functions that were here in the past like holding snow sculpture contests at the local schools.

Rowback said he would like to bring back the firefighter challenge that he helped bring to the city for the first time in 1999. That event saw 270 competitors from across the world, and more than 3,000 spectators come into the city.

“My goal is to have a function in the city of Gloversville monthly. I know it is a very large task, but if we involve the residents of the city of Gloversville, there is nothing in this city we can’t conquer,” Rowback said.

Rowback said he wants to bring a trolley system to the city to take riders around to historic sites and city businesses. He said he would also like to hold a program that sees the city promote city businesses and have the shops offer discounts during the month they are highlighted.

He said he also wants to have small block parties in each ward for residents to get together with each other and local officials and have some fun.

“To show we are here for you,” he said. “That is one way of bringing pride back into the city.”

He said he wants to see more residents involved in Neighborhood Watch and make the program stronger.

He said he also wants to see a Boys and Girls Club brought back to the city. He said Sen. James Tedisco has told him there is money available to bring the club back to the city to help give young people in the city more activities to partake in.

“We have to have something for our youth to be productive,” Rowback said. “If we can use the city of Gloversville as a nucleolus to the point that pride and respect starts in the city of Gloversville, and works its way out to the towns and throughout the state. Let the city of Gloversville be the starting point of the pride and respect for all residents. I feel if we can accomplish that, more people would move to Gloversville and more businesses would move in. That would all benefit the city of Gloversville. “

Rowback said he wants to work with local politicians from supervisors to state politicians and federal government. Rowback said if he can’t get assistance from local or state officials, he has no problem trying to discuss his ideas with the highest office in the land.

“I am not going to leave any stone unturned,” he said.

Rowback said that he has a number of ideas to help promote the pride and respect in the city.

“I am 100 percent committed to being the mayor of Gloversville,” Rowback said.

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