By LEVI PASCHER
Fulton County Express
GLOVERSVILLE – The voters within the city’s First Ward will have the opportunity to make their voice heard during the looming election as incumbent Councilwoman Robin Wentworth is being challenged by two candidates.
The three-way election will feature Wentworth on the Democrat and Community Roots lines against independent candidate Robert Castiglione and Marcia Weiss of the Gloversville independent party.
Wentworth has been on the council since 2008 and during that time she said she has been heavily involved with making sure the city’s finances improved and remained stable.
“One of the most important things I have been working on since joining the council was stabilizing our finances,” Wentworth said. “When I came on the city was in a very bad financial position and we couldn’t meet our obligations, which started discussion of filing for bankruptcy. We had to make difficult decisions to maintain our services for the residents but we got through it and have since been able to decrease the tax rate.”
She said since 2008 her and other members of the council have reduced the tax burden by $2.44 and although the overall rate is still high she said she believes the city is now heading in the right direction.
Wentworth is a graduate of Gloversville High School and also graduated from Fulton-Montgomery Community College with an associates degree in human services. She is currently employed at the St. Johnsville Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.
The 56-year-old Orange Street resident said she has learned over her term the importance of listening to constituents and is proud she hasn’t missed any regular meetings or work sessions of the Common Council.
One of her challengers is a ward resident that has often made his opinion known amongst government officials. Although Castiglione hasn’t officially served in any public office he has regularly attended meetings and made his opinion known on various issues that have came before the council over the past several years.
“As an elected official one has the authority and power to render a vote on the adoption of concepts and ideas,” he said. “When we as citizens lack the sensitivity to detect wrong doing, indolence, and ineptitude of our elected officials and lack the judgement to way the consequences of it or fail to stop it. We diminish ourselves as individuals and diminish ourselves as a community. As an elected official I could make a difference and would no longer have to stand in front of a microphone detailing the issues that I think need to be addressed.”
Castiglione is a graduate of Mayfield High School and previously received a degree in finance from Siena College.
The 73-year-old said he would like to work together with other candidates to make sure the comprehensive plan is followed and brought to fruition.
“A lot of work went into that document and I think together we could move the city forward,” Castiglione said.
Wentworth also touted the master plan as something she would like to see used to help bring the city forward.
“We have to keep our eyes on the future,” she said. “We needed that to move forward with development along Route 30A and it will help us move forward with our downtown. There will be a balance so that both of our key avenues of commerce can continue to grow.”
The third candidate seeking the post representing the first ward is retired property manager Marcia Weiss.
The 66-year-old Almond Street candidate said her primary goal on the council would be to address the blighted homes and buildings within the community.
“I’ve been watching the neighborhoods deteriorating and it has always bothered me,” she said. “I felt like something needed to be done and I haven’t seen signs of anything moving in the right direction. Everyone is discouraged about the blight in this city.”
She said she believes the city should change the way it auctions tax delinquent properties because often those homes are purchased and minimally maintained by out of area landlords seeking profit.
“One blighted home on the street lowers the value of everyone’s home,” Weiss said. “It has created a vicious cycle and it’s unfortunate because there are people in this city that do try to keep their homes nice.”
Castiglione said his idea to address blight is have the city underwrite fire insurance so that when homes are extensively damaged during a blaze it can be repaired in a timely fashion.
“That would create a huge pool of reserves that could be invested and become a source of income for the city of Gloversville,” Castiglione said.
“Blight has always been an issue and it’s a complicated issue,” Wentworth said. “We’ve been working on a plan for about eight months and we are hoping to release that soon but I would like to see initiatives created for people that rehab these buildings rather than have them demolished. We are eliminating our tax base with every building that is taken down.”
Weiss also said she would like to encourage Albany to supply the city with more state assistance because the city has long gone underfunded when compared to similar size municipalities.
“We need to make the trip to Albany and advocate that we deserve our fair share,” she said. “It has been going on for too long and we need to make the effort to see change.”