Ability To Partner Influences Mayor Choice

The three candidates for Jamestown mayor find themselves in a difficult campaign.

We’re not referring to the three-way race between Republican David Wilfong, Democrat Eddie Sundquist or Libertarian Andrew Liuzzo. Rather, we refer to a campaign where candidates have to differentiate themselves with new programs knowing they will have a hard time finding money to pay for those programs. Adding new positions for work that very likely needs to be done has to be balanced with the city’s inability to pay for that work. While inability to pay is often linked to the city’s ability to pay for raises for police officers and firefighters, it also applies to things like events, development work, acquiring and preparing new sites for development or even something simple like website development.

Whoever wins the mayoral race will walk into a difficult position. The new mayor will need to have creativity to advance policies that can fit within the city’s budget and an ability to work across political and geographical lines to accomplish actions that benefit the city and greater Jamestown area.

Wilfong and Sundquist actually have some similar core ideas. Both want to do more to knock down substandard houses, have more aggressive code enforcement and do more to market the city to outside businesses. Wilfong favors having drug treatment available for those who want help in their battle with addiction and transitional beds for those in treatment. Sundquist wants to focus on technology businesses, improve public transportation by partnering with the county, piloting ride-sharing programs and wants to improve broadband internet options in the city while creating citywide task forces to coordinate activities of non-profits working on housing and poverty in the city.

We give credit to Liuzzo, meanwhile, for running a spirited campaign. He wants to repurpose existing factories into a prefabricated housing factory to employ city residents and repopulate vacant city lots with newer houses and do more to encourage hydroponics inside the city, He has a vision of pulling Jamestown pulling itself up by its collective bootstraps and feels strongly enough about it to run a campaign largely on his own. Not everyone would do so. In the end, however, his ideas — particularly on development — just aren’t feasible in our view.

Both Wilfong and Sundquist have said they want to reach out to forge stronger partnerships — Wilfong at the county level, particularly with the county Industrial Development Agency, and Sundquist at the state and county levels. Those partnerships are one way in which Wilfong and Sundquist can bring new resources into the city to accomplish their aims. In our view, city voters’ choice in the mayoral election should be based on this factor — which candidate will be more successful forging partnerships? It’s a question we can’t answer before one of the candidates is elected. We do know, however, that Jamestown can’t get out of the financial mess that it’s in by itself. We feel that Wilfong is likely a better choice to forge partnerships at the county level while Sundquist is likely to have more success forging partnerships at the state level. Which is more valuable to city residents? That is for you to decide.

Wilfong and Sundquist each have a distinct set of strengths and weaknesses, and one can see how they would each candidate’s set of strengths could be useful in the next four years. There are three candidates on the ballot, but the choice really is between Wilfong and Sundquist. Jamestown, the choice is yours. Choose wisely.


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