By TED MEBUST
SUNY Oneonta political science major and Maryland, New York native Andrew Hamill announced his candidacy for Oneonta Common Council in December, running as a member of his own party, “Unity for Oneonta.” Hamill hopes to bring accountability and pragmatism to the council, vowing to lead with a spirit of compromise.
“We need Common Council members who are willing, and dedicated to reason and building a consensus with their constituents,” said Hamill. “As a candidate for the Council, I intend to work with my constituents by listening to their concerns about whatever they have to say and try to work on a consensus that can bring the people together.”
Hamill, who previously ran for town council in his hometown, detailed a vast array of issues on which he plans to campaign.
He hopes to see improvements to Wilbur Park by developing a community garden, installing water fountains for passersby and planting more trees on the perimeter, “due to the impact of trees helping people and animals breathe better.” An additional proposal of Hamill’s was to bring hybrid electric buses to Oneonta, “to help lower the costs of fuel” in the city.
For housing and infrastructure, Hamill proposed implementing more street lights on Main Street and bike lanes around the city. Also, he hopes to “turn the historical buildings into housing units for low-income families, the homeless, seniors and the disabled who are on a fixed income.”
“I believe this could possibly be done via either state or federal grants to improve or fix the buildings or to rebuild them to make it possible for housing without the need to increase the taxes on the people. I firmly feel that housing is a fundamental right to our well-being,” Hamill stated.
Hamill hopes to draw support for public arts and pledges to “look into grants from all over the country and government… to help fund the Public Arts Commission… and attract more artists into the city.” He would like to see more murals around Oneonta and a museum to be erected, dedicated to the “rich history and culture of Oneonta,” a project he believes could “possibly be achieved with a federal or state grant.”
The majority of Hamill’s proposals, however, involve the current functioning of city government and its relationship with residents. He would like to develop, “Youth Voices,” a commission for young people to make their concerns heard, and “College Voices Matter,” a commission for college students, officials, and area residents to “work on sharing their concerns and ideas of how to actually work together instead of against each other and to not show hostility toward each other.” Hamill hopes to increase the number of monthly Ward meetings and alerts on Oneonta’s Facebook page to keep residents more regularly informed.
Hamill proposed a limit on government salary and the development of “a moderate budget that makes it easier to live in the city without the burden of having to pay higher municipal taxes.” He believes the elderly and disabled should not be required to pay school or municipal tax “so they can save their money without raising the taxes on others.”
Hamill summarized his mission as a Common Council member as “bringing back unity as well as accountability and helping the people in the best way possible not by my interests but by those who I hope to serve.”