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Gloversville Mayor Vincent Desantis faces challenge from repeat mayoral hopeful Bill Rowback Jr.

 A cropped image of a sample ballot for Gloversville's general election
Fulton County Board of Elections/Image capture WAMC
Republican William Rowback Jr. is challenging incumbent Democratic Mayor Vincent Desantis. Rowback will also appear on the Back Red & Blue line, while Desantis will appear on the Gloversville Party line

The incumbent mayor of Gloversville is running for a full term, but faces a challenge Tuesday from a city councilor who narrowly lost his first bid for mayor four years ago.

Gloversville Mayor Vincent Desantis was appointed in January 2019. The then-councilor-at-large was named interim mayor after former Mayor Dayton King left office and pleaded guilty to a charge of official misconduct.

Later that year, Desantis was elected to serve the remainder of King’s four-year-term. The Democrat and retired city judge is now running for a full term.

“The reason I want another four years is because the project is only beginning. The project of building a new Gloversville is only started,” said Desantis.

Desantis has run on a platform of transforming the Fulton County city by attracting new residents and younger workers from downstate, redeveloping neighborhoods, and addressing contaminated brownfields — a remnant of the city’s leather-making history.

Desantis says the city has momentum and touts grant dollars received by the community of more than 14,000 residents.

“Just in the last three years, we have been awarded over $7.8 million in grants for a variety of things, and we have completed a large number – 8 or 9 – major improvements, and this is just the beginning,” said Desantis.

Desantis wants to attract the “creative class” and sees a future in the city apart from its industrial past.

“For the creative economy, and to attract that creative class, the best thing that we can do is downtown redevelopment, our upper-story redevelopment to live-work spaces,” said Desantis.

Desantis, who claims a “no-drama” atmosphere in City Hall, is facing a challenge from a former Republican mayoral hopeful and current councilor-at-large, Bill Rowback Jr.

Rowback, who has a 30-year-career with the city fire department, lost to King by only 28 votes in an election that came down to a recount four years ago.

Rowback says he wants to bring a sense of pride and respect back to the city.

“Whether it’s our employees or our community, respect has to be given first, and that’s what I want to do. I want to treat every employee, every resident in the city of Gloversville like I would want to be treated,” said Rowback.

Rowback pushed ahead with his campaign after the common council in August passed a resolution 4-2 of “no confidence,” alleging he created a hostile workplace environment. An investigation was conducted stemming from allegations made by a former city director of public works in January.

Rowback ignored calls to resign and has denied the allegations. Rowback touts his community support and calls himself the people’s mayor.

“That’s the difference with me and my opponent, you know, I’m the people’s mayor. I’m out in the community and pretty much every day,” said Rowback.

Rowback cites his relationships with the city’s political representatives, Assemblymember Robert Smullen, State Senator Jim Tedisco, and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, all fellow Republicans, as a way to attract grant funding to the city and focus on infrastructure.

Rowback wants to utilize the city’s access to transportation, clean water, and the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth development agency to attract business.

“We need businesses that are going to invest in our community and invest in our workforce, and stay here for a long period of time,” said Rowback.

Rowback said he wants to improve response times to residents from the city and hold regular town hall meetings.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.