JAMESTOWN – The three men seeking to be Jamestown’s next Mayor grappled with emergency service staffing and neighborhood development within the city at a political debate Thursday evening at the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts.
The 90-minute conversation featured City Councilman and mayoral Libertarian Candidate Andrew Liuzzo, Jamestown lawyer and Democrat Candidate Eddie Sundquist and County Legislator and Republican Candidate David Wilfong.
WNYNewsNow asked the candidates, what solutions they can offer to address staffing problems within the Jamestown Fire Department.
“Buffalo just got a multimillion-dollar grant from the Federal Government to add more firefighters; there’s no reason as a city we couldn’t be looking into those things,” said Sundquist. “What a lot of people haven’t realized is that our professional firefighting operation in the city has actually slipped in its rankings for insurance services, so that means if it slips anymore everyone’s insurance rates, the premiums are going to go up.”
“I think that we as a community need to pull together and show some respect for both of those lines of work (fire and police), I think as we spoke to the unions (we learned) that they’re very frustrated with the current situation that has gone on in city hall,” said Wilfong.
“I hope you understand that there’s only so much I can say about this because I’m a sitting council member and I can’t say anything publicly that could be misconstrued that I’m trying to negotiate,” said Liuzzo. “If I am allowed to sit at the negotiation table, I’ll be there, if I’m not allowed to sit at the negotiation table, I will be in the room, I will listen first-hand to the concerns and the problems that our fire department and police department face.”
WNYNewsNow also asked the candidates how they would try and bridge the success and growth of Downtown Jamestown to other areas of the city.
“I am a huge proponent of going out there and having a development director that is actively recruiting tech companies and manufacturing technology companies to the city,” said Sundquist. “We are primed for that development and we could do that. Many people don’t realize that we have a dark fiber ring around the downtown of our city that can provide high-speed fiber internet at almost every business in the downtown core. The BPU put that together, now imagine if we extended that and we had to BPU start to build out and actually run a municipal broadband network at a lower cost than Spectrum, or then Windstream, we could be able to attract these tech companies here without a flinch of the eye.”
“When I take a look at the saturation that I see that’s going on down there with the food industry and the beverage industry; that type of job is not the type of job that people buy new cars, they don’t buy new homes,” said Wilfong. “I believe we need to get into manufacturing light, and or heavy, because I think that’s what’s going to sustain the buildup in the City of Jamestown. Bringing back the neighborhoods, fixing our streets, we’ve got to start producing good things in the City of Jamestown, and we already do, please don’t send hate mail, but one of the things that we’ve got to have is manufacturing jobs that pay decent wage.”
“The comedy center, The Reg Lenna, The Jackson Center, all very fine buildings and are very fine projects.” said Liuzzo. “How much taxes do they pay? None. If we’re going to count on the sales tax that we get for two weeks in the summer, during the Lucy Fest and the Comedy Center Week, what about the other 50 weeks, if we are going to pursue tourism and that’s what we’re going to get our money then we have to do the whole area.”
Moderated by WRFA’s Jason Sample, question came from participating media members, WJTN’s Terry Frank, WNY News Now’s Justin Gould, Sample and the candidates themselves.
In addition to WNYNewsNow’s on demand video of the debate, the forum will later be rebroadcasted by WRFA and WJTN radio.