More than 30 community members gathered in the Kallet Civic Center in Oneida Wednesday night Oct. 14 to hear the two mayoral candidates face off and answer audience questions. The forum was hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Greater Oneida Area.
Both the incumbent Republican candidate Oneida City Mayor Peter Hedglon and former mayor Democratic candidate Leo Matzke, both opened with their response to the league's annual question: "If elected (or re-elected) what do I hope to accomplish as the mayor of the City of Oneida?"
If elected, Hedglon said he would like to see a "reinvention of Oneida." As he said a favorite childhood tunes says, "the times they are a changing," Hedglon said he sees the same in store for the city. Opportunities to shape the community will not be possible if the city runs with "politics as usual," according to Hedglon.
Hedglon said he was proud to see some improvements during his term, such as the removal of two eyesores from the city, the old school building on Elizabeth Street and the casket factory in Oneida. He said the removal of these buildings is a chance to "re-invent the buildings."
Because the buildings were removed with the city's department of public works and taxpayer dollars, mayoral candidate Matzke criticized the project because there was no grant funding or historical renewal funding.
Matzke used the village of Canastota as an example because the neighboring village recently received more than $1 million to fund restoration of old buildings. In rebuttal, Hedglon said he and the Oneida Common Council did indeed seek grant money but that there might not be as much grant money as people think.
Another major topic for the candidates was the city's budget, which is dwindling away because spending ahs trumped the general fund. According to both candidates'' calculations the city's budget could be in jeopardy by the year 2013.