Incumbent City Council At-Large Members Says There’s More To Be Done

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JAMESTOWN – Both incumbents for Jamestown City Council used their opening statements during a recent debate to tout their accomplishments during their tenures, but they’re aware there’s more work to be done if re-elected.

Incumbent Republican At-large members Jeff Russell and Kim Ecklund are vying to retain their seats during this fall’s election. One of the areas that’s being discussed heavily involves how the City should expend its ARPA funding throughout the next few years.

Ecklund says that while there’s plenty of restrictions on how the city is allowed to disperse the federal funding, there’s a golden opportunity for past issues to be resolved and future improvements to be made.

“We have to be very conscientious of that (regulations), and at the same time, this is also an opportunity for this city to improve upon and deliver somethings that we have not been able to do the last 20 years,” Ecklund said. “Like Mr. (Randy) Daversa (a fellow candidate) discussed, and other items that have not been addressed, whether it’s mental health, public safety and business future here in Jamestown.”

For years, the City of Jamestown has either flirted with or reached its constitutional tax limit. Russell says he hopes to see a “tax relief” on the City residents as a result of the ARPA funding, and is weary of Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist’s executive budget.

“Once again, we are at our constitutional tax limit,” Russell said. “I have concerns with the Mayor’s (Eddie Sundquist) budget, and in the Mayor’s budget, he puts in there he’s reallocating $300,000 for possible reassessment in the City. The Mayor is here tonight, I’ll say this publicly, that I think if he reassesses the City of Jamestown, and the citizens here, it’s political suicide for him.”

“We’ve already done that, people are paying a lot of tax money, and they don’t want to see that again,” he continued. “Especially the people that are buying the houses right now in a hot housing market where they’re actually overpaying for houses. If those houses are reassessed, it’s going to cost them even more money.”

Drug use remains a major issue for the City of Jamestown. Russell and Ecklund were both asked how they’d work to improve that area.

Russell says that bail reform needs to be altered in order to address the drug epidemic locally.

“The state went too far with bail reform,” Russell said. “Basically, now if you’re charged with an E felony or below, you’re probably going to get an appearance ticket and you might see the Jamestown City Jail for less than an hour to do some paperwork.”

Ecklund says that bail reform is a large component to the drug problem in the city.

“We all know drugs are an issue, we know it’s a disease, but we also know it’s a very strong, tough and ever-growing issue for both the users as well as law enforcement to combat,” Ecklund said. “You add into that bail reform. The person who is selling the drug is back on the street and it’s recidivism over and over again. That, in turn, does not help the user, and it does not help a broken system.”

Russell and Ecklund are two of the six candidates competing for the three at-large seats along with Daversa and Democrats Christina Cardinale, Ellen Ditonto and Alyssa Porter.


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