JAMESTOWN – A longtime resident of the City of Jamestown says her professional background will be key to serving as a City Council member.
Democrat City Council At-Large Ellen Ditonto spoke with WNY News Now this week to discuss her campaign, issues the City faces, and more. Ditonto currently holds several roles in the community, including as the Chair of the Jamestown Zoning Board.
Ditonto says that, because of where she is in life, and with her experience, she is ready to enter the political arena in a crucial time for the City of Jamestown.
“One of the things I thought was particularly important to me deciding was, number one, we have the opportunities I think to move Jamestown in a new direction,” Ditonto said. “If there’s been any good news that came out of this pandemic is that there’s a one-time opportunity for us to get a federal influx of dollars, to allow us to look at our city in a very different way.”
“I’m very excited about that. I thought I had the time and experience to bring to the table,” she continued. “I’m excited about collaborating with some of the current City Council members. We have a wealth of experience on the City Council, but we need some new voices, so I thought it was important for me to step up.”
Ditonto says that she’s spoken to several citizens during the campaign that’ve expressed concerns about the direction the City has taken in recent years.
“The city has been in a downward spiral for a number of years, I don’t think that’s any secret,” Ditonto said. “As Chautauqua County has been declining in population, so has the City of Jamestown. But one of the biggest issues for our citizens is taxes, and the only way we can impact that is to improve the tax base.”
“I’ve told citizens that as we look at this money, a one-time very important gift from the federal government, that we look at it very strategically, and that we look at it differently than maybe we have done any other economic development in the past,” she continued. “We need to bring in some new business to Jamestown, specifically. That’s the only way we are going to add to our tax base.”
The candidate also hopes to improve the neighborhoods throughout the City.
Ditonto says, as of 2020, 30 percent of the multi-tenet unites in the City of Jamestown are owned by “disinterested parties.” She explains that those parties are located outside of Jamestown who aren’t necessarily interested in the improvement of properties.
Overall, Ditonto says that a “collaboration” of efforts by city stakeholders will be crucial to improving the neighborhoods and tax base.
Finally, Ditonto says that the City needs to update its zoning code in order to move the municipality towards the future.
Ditonto and Democrats Alyssa Porter and Christina Cardinale are seeking a seat. In addition, Republicans Kim Ecklund and Jeff Russell are attempting to retain their seat. A third Republican, Randall Diversa, is also running for a seat.