JOHNSTOWN - "Cooperation" was a popular word among politicians at the annual Fulton County Republican Club picnic on Saturday.
Several candidates interviewed during the event at the Johnstown Moose Club agreed the cities, towns and villages in Fulton County need to cooperate and get along in order to move forward and make positive changes.
Incumbent Michael Gendron, running for re-election as Gloversville's 3rd Ward supervisor, said cooperation is key.
Seen at the annual Fulton County Republican Club picnic on Saturday, from left to right, first row: Johnstown mayoral candidate Scott Jeffers and Gloversville mayoral candidate Dayton King; second row, Matthew Myers, running for Gloversville's 5th Ward supervisor position, Fulton County Republican Committee Chairman Susan McNeil; Wayne McNeil, running for Perth justice, and James Robinson, running for Gloversville's councilman-at-large; third row is Charles Potter for Gloversville's 4th Ward supervisor, Johnstown City Court judge Thomas Walsh, Fulton County Clerk candidate Ann Nickloy, Gloversville's 3rd Ward Supervisor Michael Gendron and County Treasurer Terry Blodgett.
"[Local Republican candidates] all adhere to the public and principles of lowering taxes, recognizing that we need jobs in Fulton County and probably the newest phenomenon of working together with the other municipalities," Gendron said. "Because when Gloversville does better, Johnstown does better, the town of Mayfield does better, and everybody does better."
Working together is one thing, he said, but the term "consolidation" is used too often.
"I'm a fan of studying things, collecting data, working with the municipalities. It's easy to say 'consolidate' when you don't know the data behind it. I'm a big fan of working with other municipalities, and I've done that, and I'll continue to do it."
Gloversville Mayor Dayton King, who won the GOP primary as he seeks re-election to a second term, talked about specific consolidation plans he has proposed.
"One of the things I've been concerned with is that we have six different supervisors that represent Gloversville on the county level," King said. "I think the mayor or the councilman-at-large could do that [just] as well to reduce some of those costs, and really just be more effective. The 10 towns of Fulton County have a supervisor that also represents them on a county level, so I'm not sure why it was ever decided that we have different elected officials."
King has discussed this idea at past meetings, but it has garnered little public support from other local officials.
King said another priority of his is "getting our cities together."
"We've got 15,000 people in Gloversville, 8,500 in Johnstown, and that's still a small city if you put them together,"
he said. "So I think we start with [merging] the departments and then get to the elected officials."
Scott Jeffers, who won the Republican primary for mayor in Johnstown, said he thinks cooperation should come before consolidation, and planning is essential - without it, the city could suffer negative consequences.
"I really believe consolidation means cooperating with everybody else," Jeffers said. "I'm not saying consolidation is the answer to everything, but if you don't have a plan in place or something along those lines, eventually it's going to be much worse down the road. And if we're not at least looking for small solutions right now, we're going to have failing cities, we're going to have higher crime rates, we're going to have negative things coming this way."
Jeffers said regardless of the general consensus that cooperation is critical, his own community remains his main priority.
"I'm looking to cooperate with Gloversville and everyone in general, as long as it's feasible for Johnstown," he said. "Because if I get elected, Johnstown comes first. I'm not going to be mayor of Fulton County, I'm going to be mayor of Johnstown."
Assemblyman Marc Butler, R-Newport, attended Saturday's picnic and agreed cooperation is key to the county's success.
"We need to learn how to work together cooperatively," Butler said. "Stop the local bickering, stop the internal strife and get together on the same page."