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Two incumbents, two newcomers run for Watertown City Council

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A woman involved in the anti-fluoride movement and a candidate with ties to a staffer of state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie are running for the Watertown City Council.

Cody J. Horbacz, 27, and Jasmine W. Borreggine, 27, are running along with incumbents Teresa R. Macaluso and Jeffrey M. Smith.

Mr. Horbacz and Mrs. Borreggine, both 2004 Watertown High School graduates, have never run for political office.

They alleged council members fail to listen to their constituents, mentioning the so-called roommate law as an example. Mrs. Borreggine is campaigning on allowing residents to have “more freedom” after getting involved earlier this year in lobbying the council to eliminate fluoride from the public water supply.

Mrs. Borreggine also said she does not believe dogs should be banned at parades, the Watertown Farm & Craft Market and other events.

“City Council should not be telling us who can live in our homes, where we can take our dogs, what kind of plants we should have in our front yards,” she said. “And what should be in our water supply.”

Mrs. Borreggine, office administrator for Emmanuel Congregational Church and a coach with the NNY All-Starz cheerleading squad, contends council members should be held to “a professional standard.” They should also show more respect to residents, she said.

“It’s time for a change,” she said, adding she is supporting Mr. Horbacz, her former WHS classmate, in his run for office.

This spring, Mr. Horbacz attended a council meeting when a controversial zoning change was debated. He said he became upset to see some council members not responding to residents’ concerns over the issue.

“I think people my age are left out of the conversation,” he said.

The zoning issue revolved around a Thompson Boulevard homeowner who complained her neighbor was living with his fiancée and two friends in the neighborhood of single-family houses zoned as a Residential A district.

When the national media and a British publication picked up the story, council members ended up embarrassing the city with their vote, Mrs. Borreggine said. They drew criticism for trying to regulate lifestyles and living arrangements.

“Everybody knew what it was about,” she said. “It had to do about roommates living in a house.”

Mr. Horbacz, a service consultant with Fuccillo Chevrolet, supports the city building a dog park and the ban on canines at public events.

Mr. Horbacz, who supports showcasing and expanding the city’s cultural arts, said he became interested in running after noticing THAT a deteriorating New York Avenue playground sat neglected.

Timothy Scee II, a staffer for Sen. Ritchie, wrote and distributed the campaign’s released statement for his friend.

“It has nothing to do with my job,” he said, adding Sen. Ritchie is not involved in the nonpartisan election.

Ms. Macaluso, 54, owner of the Brew Ha Ha, 468 Coffeen St., won a City Council seat four years ago when she ran for office for the first time.

She opposes the city’s use of fluoride, citing the health risks critics claim are associated with it. She was also against the zoning change, saying she was worried how it could pit neighbor against neighbor.

She contends she listens to her constituents — she votes the way they want her to vote.

“I believe my decisions are consistent,” she said. “If I’m elected again, I would continue to be consistent in my votes.”

Ms. Macaluso said she worked hard to keep the Mercy nursing home’s closing in the public eye because it could have ended up in city hands if a developer had not been found for the Stone Street complex. COR Development Co., Syracuse, recently announced it is acquiring the property and plans to demolish it and mainly build housing in its place.

She has also helped put into place what was needed for two developers to complete their plans to turn the vacant Woolworth building on Public Square into 50 apartments. She noted city government has gone through major changes during the past year or so, with the hiring of a new city manager and city clerk.

“I think council worked well together and it went smoothly,” she said.

Mr. Smith, 43, a neurosurgical physician’s assistant and co-owner of QuikMed Urgent Care Center, 727 Washington St., has served on the City Council for 12 years.

While he backed the zoning change, Mr. Smith disagreed that council members have a tendency not to listen to residents, reiterating he voted for the zoning amendment to protect single-family homes in Residential A districts.

“Just because we didn’t agree with you on an issue doesn’t mean we didn’t listen,” he said, pointing out he was 23 when he first ran for office and he is sensitive to including the viewpoints of people in that age range.

He mentioned the recent discussions about fluoride as an example of how the council listens to both sides of an issue. So far, Mr. Smith said, he is leaning toward getting rid of fluoride but he hasn’t made up his mind.

A supporter of the city’s growing Parks and Recreation Department, Mr. Smith, a father of four who also is active in youth hockey, has pushed for making improvements at the Watertown Municipal Arena and city pools. Both projects are moving forward this year, he said.

“I want to continue to work hard in making changes in the community,” he said.

As a council member, he helped the city improve its finances by cutting $10 million in debt and boosting its bond rating, Mr. Smith said. He and other council members have also reduced the city’s tax rate by 34 percent since 2006, he added.

During his stint on the council, he has also pushed city staff to further develop use of alternative energies. He mentioned his support of overhauling the city’s wastewater treatment plant by turning its sludge into methane gas. It will save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy costs and produce electricity for city use, he said.

In 2011, he ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor against incumbent Jeffrey E. Graham.

At 23, he was elected to a two-year term on the former Jefferson County Board of Supervisors for the city’s 3rd Ward. He is seeking his fourth term on the council.

Council members are elected citywide in a nonpartisan race. A primary will be held in September only if five or more candidates submit valid petitions. In a four-candidate race, the top two vote-getters are elected.

Candidates can start circulating petitions June 4. Mr. Horbacz is kicking off his campaign with an event from 8 p.m. to midnight Saturday at Downtown Bistro 108, 108 Court St.

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