The Clinton County Board of Elections counted absentee ballots Monday, determining Democrat Chris Rosenquest will become the next mayor of Plattsburgh. Rosenquest expressed relief and discussed his plans shortly after the count was completed.
Democrat Chris Rosenquest is a Clinton County Legislator who represents part of the city of Plattsburgh. His Republican challenger Scott Beebie is a retired city police lieutenant. On election night the preliminary vote had Beebie leading by 290 votes. But there were 2,650 absentee ballots to be counted.
With absentee ballots tallied, Rosenquest pulled ahead, winning 4,018 to 3,708 – a margin of 310 votes. Rosenquest was emotional as he talked about the results. “This has been a long, I’m going to have to hold back some tears because it’s a little emotional. A long ten months. But at the end of the day the message that our campaign has spoken about: progress and community involvement, transparency, I think that resonated with a lot of people. And that has been and is going to be our process moving forward and it has to be. We need to take a more progressive approach in terms of how we manage our government and how we include people in managing our government. And just very fulfilling, you know very satisfying to be given the honor to represent our community in this way and I look forward to it.”
The current Plattsburgh common council budget officer has set a deadline of November 19th to pass outgoing Democratic Mayor Colin Read’s 2021 budget. Rosenquest is among those criticizing what some say is a rush to complete the fiscal plan – which does not have to be finalized until mid-January. “The only thing right now that I have the power to do is just lobby those councilors to say let’s wait, let’s hold off on it. You know the budget that came out in June was apparently good enough. Why is there all of a sudden a rush to push something through? We have union contracts that are out of date. Years of back pay that we need to pay. We’ve got staffing issues. We’ve got all kinds of investment issues and infrastructure issues that we need to address and we can do that in a reasonable fiscally responsible, fiscally conservative way without setting ourselves up for failure in the next two to three years. So let’s take some time to think through that right now.”
Both Rosenquest and his opponent opposed the current Downtown Redevelopment Initiative plan for the Durkee Street parking lot. He would like the zoning board to reject the project. “When it comes to the size and scope of that project it doesn’t fit our downtown. It doesn’t look like it should fit our downtown. It encroaches on our waterfront too much. And I know that they’ve made changes. But at the end of the day it goes back to what the Zoning and Planning Board has been saying. It needs to change. I’ve been in the room with Prime. I’ve asked them to capitulate to the demands of the zoning board based on what the zoning board’s been asking them, based on what the community has been asking them. But when the zoning board comes back and says hey this is what we want, this is how we want it and there has been no change well then it’s up to the zoning board to then do the right thing. And I’ve supported that.”
The mayor-elect says he is not currently planning major administrative changes as he enters office. “I don’t really see a lot of structural changes to be made, more cultural than anything else. More how do we communicate, how do we include people in this process? As somebody who has come into organizations that are kind of in flux like this I know it doesn’t bode well, it doesn’t make any difference to come in with an idea about we’re going to make all these changes and they kind of fall flat. You’ve got to be in there for a while. You’ve got to feel things out. You’ve got to understand the nuances of the situation before you can bring some suggestions to it.”
Beebie was disappointed but gracious in defeat. “We knew it was an uphill battle. We knew that there was more Democratic absentees out there so. I have the utmost faith in the Board of Elections. I have the complete faith in the process. I’m very proud of the citizens of our city. I will respect their decision. I think we ran a great campaign. We got our issues out there. Democracy it’s kind of cool. Everybody took part in it this year. This is my first attempt at an election. I learned a lot. So I’m very proud of what we accomplished.”
Both candidates agreed on a lot of issues and Beebie would like the budget to be the first item on the new mayor’s radar. “The first thing he needs to do is make sure that budget doesn’t pass. The budget that’s currently proposed in the city of Plattsburgh will eviscerate our municipality within two years. That has to be changed. Secondly we need to take real stock in our emergency services and have a plan of succession for all of the agencies. Those should be our priorities. And then once he sits in the office he needs to mend all the fences with our municipal partners. That’s got to be a priority.”
Mayor-elect Rosenquest will continue serving as a county legislator until he is sworn in as mayor in January.