MASSENA - Its only May, but its looking like the race for mayor of Massena could be an inside job.
Massena Mayor James F. Hidy has made it no secret that he plans to run for re-election and the worst kept secret in town is that his opponent is expected to be Massena Village Police Chief Timmy J. Currier.
Mr. Currier had no comment when asked about his future Friday, but numerous Democratic insiders and others close to the police chief say he has made the decision to run for the post with current plans calling for him to retire from his police post in late 2014. The next mayoral term will begin on Dec. 1, 2014.
Mr. Hidy, 61, has heard the reports he will have a challenger - including speculation that his opponent will be his police chief - in his bid for re-election and said he is eager for the contested race. He was elected to hsi current post in November 2010.
I absolutely expect to have a challenger. I expect the Democrats to put up somebody, and I think they should. We have people in local government that have been in office for years and havent done anything, and they dont have opposition when they are up for re-election. That cant happen. We need change, and change is coming, he said.
Ive gotten under the skin of the good old boy network. I think they want to try to uproot my administration, Mr. Hidy said.
He also fired the first shot in what could be a theme in the incumbents campaign for re-election if Mr. Currier is his opponent. Regardless of who my opponent is Im not using this position as a stepping stone for any advancement to any other layer of government, Mr. Hidy said.
Mr. Curriers first venture into the political arena came in 2008 when he announced he was a candidate for the River District Assembly seat vacated by Darrel Aubertine when he moved to the New York State Senate. That campaign came to a quick end when Democratic party leaders refused to grant Mr. Currier an out-of-party authorization he would have needed to stage a primary battle against current Assemblywoman Addie Jenne Russell.
He has been a very visible police chief in recent years, an advocate for providing treatment in addition to making arrests to address the growing heroin problem in the community and has played a leadership role in efforts to form a boys and girls club in Massena.
Mr. Hidy said he will again seek to gain the Republican line on the ballot. He said he has not had any formal discussions about that support with the partys leadership in Massena. There have been no formal discussions, but Im hoping for it, certainly, he said.
He said he considers himself a full-time mayor. I feel I have given people value for their dollar. I have an open door policy and continue to fight 24/7 for the people of Massena, he noted.
He admitted he has faced challenges in his first term in office. When I came back into town and started talking to people, I realized there were major code issues that had to be dealt with, discovered the scope of the drug epidemic in out community and the need to get our fair share from the New York Power Authority, the incumbent mayor said.
He is adamant that the power authority needs to reopen its relicensing agreement for the St. Lawrence-FDR project to more fairly compensate communities and government entities in the projects boundary. It is his belief that his predecessors in local government involved in negotiating the relicensing agreement signed a flawed document.
The power authority is the key to bringing financial aid to the community. As host communities, we should be entitled to the same agreement awarded to communities in Western New York for the Niagara Projects relicensing agreement. Its atrocious to allow them to get away with what they got in the last agreement, he fumed.
Mr. Hidy said he remains committed to fighting for the changes necessary to reverse the communitys slide over the past several years. Massena didnt get the way it is now overnight, and it wont rebound overnight, he said, suggesting initiatives such as the downtown revitalization effort and code changes to fight neighborhood blight will have positive results in the long run.
I dont think you will find anyone that will fight harder than I have to see the necessary changes implemented. Im not status right. Im willing to fight for our community. Were doing the right things. The energy is still there to tackle the issues that should have been tackled years ago, he suggested.
Mr. Hidy said he has the backbone needed to tackle the difficult issues facing the community as well as the heart to be sympathetic to the individual needs of community residents.
I have the passion and love for the job and community, he added. The goals are still the same they were when I ran for mayor four years ago. Its what we are trying to do and it takes time.
Staff writer Benny Fairchild contributed to this story.