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North Country News

City Democrats Endorse Non-Resident Candidate For Mayor

Plattsburgh City Hall
WAMC Photo
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Plattsburgh City Hall

Plattsburgh Democrats have endorsed a SUNY Plattsburgh economist as their mayoral candidate, even though his current primary residence is outside the city.

Tuesday evening Democrats in Plattsburgh chose to endorse Town of Plattsburgh resident Colin Read as their candidate for city mayor in the November election. Read owns the Champlain Wine Company in downtown Plattsburgh, is president of the Plattsburgh Downtown Association, and is a columnist for the local newspaper.  He is also a Clinton County legislator. 

Read says running for mayor presents a tremendous opportunity to create new economic development in the city and county.  “From 2000 to 2010 we actually had about a two percent increase in the population in the city but since 2010 the estimates are we've had a one point two percent fall in the population. So I just think we need to redouble our efforts for economic development.”

Read points to his economic background and downtown activism as key strengths.   “The most important thing is to really solidify our relationship with the downtown businesses and those people who like to invest in our community.”

Independent Mayor James Calnon, who received the Republican endorsement when he was first elected,  had asked for the Democrat’s endorsement in his re-election bid.   “I certainly am not afraid of any challenges. I was invited to the meeting last night by the chair of the Democratic committee and had an opportunity to ask them to endorse me. And I’m quite disappointed that the full committee didn’t see clear to do that.”

Ward 1 Councilor Rachelle Armstrong chairs the City Democratic Committee.  She said while there was interest in endorsing the independent incumbent, some on the committee balked because of Calnon’s past Republican support.  Armstrong says Read was the only Democrat that came forward seeking  the office.  “He is a Democrat and it was a natural thing to consider a Democrat’s candidacy.”

Calnon, however, is “quite disappointed” that city Democrats endorsed someone who doesn’t live or own property in the city and plans to stay in an apartment while keeping a residence outside the city.   “The fact that he's going to have a $350,000 summer camp is not something that the voters are really going to buy. The other thing is my current opponent was just recently elected to the county legislature, let's abandon that and let’s abandon the constituents who elected me and move on to another office. In two years are we going to abandon the city and move on to state office? I have some serious questions about this guy's candidacy.”

But Read says his business and apartment in the city are where he and his wife spend most of their time. He hopes residency will not become an issue in the campaign.   “My engagement in the city has only been ratcheting up. I’m probably best representing the area in some sort of city capacity rather than a town or county capacity.  I don't think anybody could possibly say I've been unengaged in the city over the last few years.”

Armstrong notes that her committee reviewed the City Charter regarding the residency issue before endorsing Read.   “The charter says that primary residency must be established thirty days before the election in November. And he assured us that is a step he committed to take. So those were things that we discussed with him and we were satisfied.”

Mayor Calnon is expected to be endorsed by city Republicans when they meet later this month. The winner will have the city’s first four-year term under the reformed charter.

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