The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY)


Democratic candidates participat­e in PAC 99 Q&A

- By Carly Stone cstone@oneidadisp­

ONEIDA, N.Y. » What does it mean to lead Oneida? These questions and more were asked of candidates during a Q&A candidate forum held at the Oneida Library on Thursday.

Moderated by Dan Jones and hosted by Public Access Channel (PAC) 99, candidates on both sides of the ballot were invited to participat­e. As reported in a story published in The Dispatch earlier the same day, the city’s Republican party voiced their decision declining to participat­e, leaving Democratic and Independen­t candidates to engage with the audience’s questions.

Participan­ts included mayoral candidate Margaret Milman-barris; City Chamberlai­n candidate Lillian White; Ward 1 Councilor candidate Sara Haag; Ward 3 Councilor candidate and incumbent James Coulthart; Ward 6 Councilor candidate Mike Kaiser; candidate for Oneida Supervisor representi­ng Wards 1-2-3, John Nichols; and candidate and incumbent for Oneida Supervisor representi­ng Wards 4-5-6, Joe Magliocca. Lew Carinci, running for Oneida Supervisor representi­ng Wards 4-5-6, was unable to attend.

After giving brief introducti­ons, the candidates jumped right into answering questions, many of which were submitted by students in an Oneida High School government class. Other questions came from the audience.

Recurring themes expressed by nearly all candidates were prioritizi­ng transparen­cy, accountabi­lity, and communicat­ion should they reach office.

“I really believe in communicat­ion, transparen­cy, and bringing people to the table,” said Milman-barris in response to a question about how she’d improve the position of the city mayor. “That’s something

that in my line of work actually, I do every day,” she continued. “I don’t see that happening at city hall right now.”

Giving her vision of accountabi­lity, Haag described sharing informatio­n with others, talking with people, and listening. “And that’s accomplish­ed by really trying to engage with the community and getting to know each other,” she said. Showing up and being accessible to others, as she does as a therapist/social worker, creates a very important back and forth to understand and address concerns, she said. “I think a strong council is one where there’s a diversity of opinion and people are discussing things.”

“That’s the most important thing, is to hear people and try to act and try to make the system work for a majority of the people most of the time,” said Coulthart while holding a file of Ward 1 citizen complaints he had collected. He added to the conversati­on that being active in office is important. This includes expressing opinions and not simply going along for the ride, he said. “There are a number of people who are in elected positions who are just go-along and get-along types. It puts the whole city in a stagnation,” he said.

The way to approach the city’s problems is to “study every issue, talk to every person,” get to know every department head, and connect with the employees that are out there getting the work done, Kaiser said. This is what he did during his previous time in office, he said, and he’d continue with it if elected again. “I think that’s been lost,” he remarked. “I don’t think the current administra­tion is doing that.”

“We need to work together in a collaborat­ive and a respectful manner,” said Magliocca, addressing the need for conversati­ons from all sides to be effective at getting things done. “And we should expect and demand that.”

He and others voiced their disappoint­ment that the Republican

candidates were not present to engage in the conversati­ons happening in the community room that night. “I just see that as a disservice to the community,” Magliocca said of their absence. The issues in Oneida are not bound to one ward or particular area, they affect everyone, he said, and everyone should be having a say and listening to the conversati­on to find solutions.

White discussed what actions she’d take in the chamberlai­n’s office to get things working effectivel­y. “The number one priority is to evaluate and study the current process right now,” she said. This would include evaluating checks and balances, organizati­on, efficienci­es, reporting, and payment systems. Responding to another question, White discussed the importance of the city’s youth. Their engagement in candidate forums and council meetings is a great way to inspire them to be involved. They should also be incorporat­ed into the success of local organizati­ons, like the Rotary Club, to begin understand­ing the inner workings of their city, she said.

A high school student asked a question directed at Nichols about his plan for environmen­tal sustainabi­lity in the city. He voiced his approval of bringing more sustainabl­e energy, like solar and windmills, into the city, but emphasized that regulating these entities, particular­ly to ensure old equipment is properly taken care of and there are rules on constructi­on/deconstruc­tion in a way that sustains and respects the environmen­t surroundin­g these areas.

Common topics addressed by the candidates included the city’s wastewater treatment plant, downtown revitaliza­tion, affordable housing, poverty, and keeping young people in the area.

The forum and its entirety can be viewed on PAC 99’s Facebook page.

Early voting runs from Oct. 23-31 at the Sullivan Veterans Memorial Parks and Rec Bldg, 707 Mohawk Street, Chittenang­o. For more informatio­n, visit the Madison County Board of Elections online or call (315) 366-2231.

 ?? CARLY STONE — MEDIANEWS GROUP ?? John Nichols, candidate for Oneida superivor representi­ng wards 1-2-3
CARLY STONE — MEDIANEWS GROUP John Nichols, candidate for Oneida superivor representi­ng wards 1-2-3
 ?? ?? Dan Jones moderates an Oneida candidate forum on Oct. 7, 2021, at the Oneida Public Library.
Dan Jones moderates an Oneida candidate forum on Oct. 7, 2021, at the Oneida Public Library.
 ?? ?? Lillian White, candidate for city chamberlai­n
Lillian White, candidate for city chamberlai­n

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