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Ogdensburg council candidates near campaign’s end

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OGDENSBURG — The campaign is nearing an end for the five candidates for three seats on the Ogdensburg City Council and it has been an informed one for incumbents Michael D. Morley and Daniel E. Skamperle and challengers M. Penny Sharrow, James R. Amo and Brian R. Mitchell.

“It has been going well,” said Mr. Amo, a Republican. “I have been going door to door and speaking to many citizens, listening to their concerns and discussing them.”

There is no shortage of issues.

“The first concern is people’s inability to build or rebuild on a vacant lot and/or their house without a huge roadblock put up by the code department,” Mr. Amo said. “I discussed with the citizens my ideas that could potentially turn into a solution. If elected, I would like to update the code and zoning laws to today’s standards. Before urban renewal, Ogdensburg was a booming, industrious city and was constantly building and expanding..”

Want To Know Party candidate Ms. Sharrow has been listening, too.

“Taxes and what do we actually get for them” are a major concern, she said. “The waterfront needs to continue to be a priority, but there needs to be some vision for the rest of the city.”

“Jobs are always a concern,” said Mr. Morley, seeking his fourth term. “Taxes, also, and worry over the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center’s future and the impact on the community is the most pressing right now, though. New shopping opportunities are a concern as stores open and stores close.”

Mr. Mitchell, a Republican and father of two children, said “crime and drugs” are a frequent complaint. “I believe we need to offer more support to the police department and to continue to clean up the city of its crime and drug problem,” he said, adding “our family’s goal is to make parks a safe place for our children to play and to be confident that they will be able to walk safely home from school.”

Mr. Skamperle, a Democrat and a Conservative, is seeking a second term.

“The top issues I’m hearing about facing Ogdensburg are the potential closing of the psychiatric center, job creation, waterfront redevelopment, a high tax rate with a decreasing tax base, increasing crime and an increasingly failing housing stock.” he said.

“I believe they all have deep roots in many policies created by Washington and Albany that have negatively affected not only Ogdensburg but many cities and towns across the state and nation.”

Ms. Sharrow called the voters’ mood “one of frustration.”

Mr. Morley said he’s heard “worry about the psychiatric center” but also “hope of new opportunities as the riverfront is cleaned up and developed. People realize that things don’t happen overnight. The Diamond International/Standard Shade Roller property has been a project since knocking the old plant down in 2001. Now, almost 13 years later, we are just beginning to see the fruit of possible development.”

Mr. Mitchell said many voters “are looking for changes as they are tired of the high taxes and the lack of job opportunities.”

Mr. Amo sees Tuesday’s election as a red flag.

“The general mood is that they are sick of the same old ‘yes people’ in council and they want a big change,” he said. “They are looking for people who are going to question things and not just say ‘aye’ to everything brought to the table, and I am the person who will do that.”

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