ONEONTA – Four candidates are vying for the Democratic nomination to two seats on Common Council in tomorrow’s primary election. Polls will be open noon-9 p.m. at Foothills. Click below for questionnaires provided by the four candidates:
PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Professor of Education, Hartwick College (17 Years); High School Social Studies Teacher (8 Years)
Environmental Board – 2013-present
Chair of the Environmental Board – 2015-present
Sustainability Task Force Chairperson – 2010-2015
County-wide Composting Project 2014-present
County Energy Task Force, Co-Chair Environment Sub-Committee – 2019-present
City Comprehensive Planning Committee – 2017-2019
Board Member, Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship (CADE) – 2017-present.
Board Member, Otsego County Conservation Association (OCCA) – 2009-2013
Oneonta Soccer Club Coach 2007-2011
FAMILY: Married to Diana Portalatin for 29 years; son, Kai (22); daughter, Marly (20)
PHILOSOPHY OF GOVERNMENT:
Elected officials need to represent the people and make decisions that are in the best interest of the people and enhance their quality of life.
MAJOR ISSUES FACING CITY OF ONEONTA:
Oneonta faces challenges in the years ahead:
With an aging infrastructure, updates and improvements need to take place.
Family housing is disappearing in the city, we need to explore strategies to increase middle-income and family housing to attract more families to Oneonta.
In order to attract businesses to Oneonta, we need to develop and implement a strategic plan for business development.
Given the realities of climate change, we need to vigilantly protect the environmental health of our community and reduce our carbon footprint.
I look for opportunities to collaborate with people, which often requires moving beyond differences and working to find common ground. I start from a position of respect for all people in all of my interactions. I enjoy the challenge of solving problems through developing creative or logical solutions. I have always been guided by the simple idea that we have a responsibility to do what is best for people and best for the environment; because the people in our lives and the places we live are most valuable.
I’m running for Common Council because I am deeply committed to serving the community, addressing our challenges, and working to secure a high quality of life for all community members without sacrificing our environmental health now and into the future.
COMMUNITY OF RESIDENCE: Center Street, Oneonta for over 30 years.
EDUCATION: Oneonta City Schools (’05) and Academy of Art University in San Francisco (advertising)
PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Retail business leadership for over 10 years, most notably maurices at the Southside Mall for five years.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: City of Oneonta sustainability taskforce alongside Mark Davies. First United Methodist Thanksgiving dinner volunteer for several years. Represented maurices as a local Chamber of Commerce member. Coordinator of numerous drives and events as Store Leader of maurices benefitting local groups – focusing on women, children, seniors and animals.
FAMILY: I have a husband, Jared, who is also an Oneonta native, and a son, Henry.
PHILOSOPHY OF GOVERNMENT: Council members should be elected to advocate for their constituents and ensure tax dollars are used to appropriately address community needs.
MAJOR ISSUES FACING CITY OF ONEONTA:
I think it’s important that we are finding purposeful solutions for the future, rather than making potentially short-sighted decisions. For example, the DRI grant is an important opportunity and it’s crucial that we think about how the decisions we make now will age in the community we want to build.
It’s critical that we focus on growing the local economy by encouraging quality job creation and by reducing the tax burden on homeowners.
We need to facilitate a symbiotic relationship between the City and the colleges. We are a college town – so the students are a vital part of our city’s character, but our year-round residents who have invested in our community deserve respect. This is a continual issue for the residents of my district, so it’s important that we set expectations clearly so that we are all participating in a shared vision for our neighborhood. We should also tap into the college community when it comes to growing industry in our area, as supporting students with jobs in their field after they graduate will help them view (and treat) Oneonta as their home.
I’m also passionate about increased communication and transparency between City Hall and city residents so that everyone feels involved in the processes that impact our quality of life.
MY QUALITIES: strong communicator, results focused, driven, organized, and genuinely optimistic.
When people I grew up with hear that I’m still in our hometown, a lot of them ask me why – and that is exactly why I’m running for city government. The perception among many is that Oneonta is a great place to grow up, but not a great place to stay. We raise great kids, and so many more move here to go to college, but then most end up elsewhere because there isn’t anything to keep them here long term. It’s hard to find housing. It’s hard to find jobs. “There isn’t anything to do.”
Our community has so much potential. We could absolutely be a destination for other families like mine to put down roots; to live, work, shop, dine, and proudly call Oneonta their home. In recent years, we have taken steps toward that potential, but there is still a lot of work to be done. I’m motivated to dig in, work hard, find solutions to our challenges, and be involved in these decisions that will shape the future of Oneonta.
As a lifelong resident of the Fourth Ward, you can trust that my perspective on issues will come from a place of deeply held personal understanding. I’ve been here through the ups and downs in our community, and I can relate to many of the concerns of my neighbors. Now, more than ever, city residents are voicing their opinions, hoping to be heard by those making decisions on their behalf – and I would be excited and honored to be their representative.