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Kingston mayor faces Democratic primary challenge this month

This month's Democratic Party primary pits challenger Frank Waters against two-term Kingston Mayor Steve Noble.
Daily Freeman online debate
Two-term Kingston Mayor Steve Noble faces a Democratic Party primary challenge from My Kingston Kids founder Frank Waters

This month's Democratic Party primary pits challenger Frank Waters against two-term Kingston Mayor Steve Noble.

Self-described community organizer and activist Frank Waters is the founder and current executive director of My Kingston Kids. Waters says he has an extensive business background in New York City. He moved to Kingston 10 years ago and prides himself on community involvement.

"[I've] always made sure I had the community support before I took the next leap," said Waters. "And this particular leap came from the community. There was a variety of community residents that asked me to run, from everyday residents, to government officials, to business owners, to clergy folks. And as people began to ask me, I started to realize my own skill set and some of my own challenges that I saw within the government and felt that I could use my leadership management skills, ideas and vision to make a major change here. And collectively, that's what gave me the inspiration to run."

Noble took office in January 2016, after defeating Republican Ronald Polacco and before that, winning the Democratic primary vote against then-Mayor Shayne Gallo. He says he’s running on his record as mayor the last eight years.

"We've been able to invest proximately $64 million of infrastructure up through the end of 2022," Noble said. "Anyway, into fixing everything from our parks, to our roads, to our bridges, and sewer, water, infrastructure, it's really been a kind of a critical component of kind of, to reach, kind of re-envision and re-engage our community to move forward in the future. A big part of that timeframe, we had the pandemic and we were able, we were inundated with people coming to our community looking for wonderful quality of life. At the time, we had lower housing costs than many other places around us. And so we have seen now a huge increase and housing costs and the real shortage of supply. And so the housing crisis since really 2020 has been, first and foremost, has gotten my attention."

Housing is also on Waters' radar.

"People that were born and raised here are being priced out, people are moving down south people are moving on the outskirts of Kingston," Waters said. "There's a lot of folks that work here that are not able to afford to live here anymore."

Waters contends city residents feel they don't have a voice in local government.

"If I can develop a strategy and some opportunities to connect to the community and get them to begin to trust again, then that will be the foundation to begin to address a lot of the issues that we have fundamentally, such as safety and economic development, and so forth, and so on," said Waters.

Noble expresses an opposite point of view.

"My background and my skill set really sets me apart from my challenger. And I feel that, you know, my positive attitude toward kind of how we work with the community and being really open and transparent, has helped to bring I think, some really great, you know, things to Kingston, and, you know, we want to be able to continue this work, and but you can't take anything for granted. And so we're out there working hard," Noble said.

Both candidates say they are hands-on all-community, all the time.

Noble has the endorsement of the Kingston Democratic Committee. Waters is endorsed by the Working Families Party but does not appear on the WFP ballot line.

The primary is June 27th. The winner goes on to face retired automobile businessman Scott Denny, a Republican.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.