Watertown's City Council contest pitted two fiscally conservative incumbents against two political newcomers who want city government to think more broadly about its role. The voters went for one of each.
Small business owner Teresa Macaluso led the pack by a comfortable margin to keep her seat for a second four-year term. She says good budget management will always be her top priority. "Without a budget, a balanced budget, we don't get any of the services that we want, things fall behind, and then before you know it, you're in trouble," she said.
Macaluso says she thinks voters also liked her open, accessible style.
Jefferson County public health planner Stephen Jennings replaces long-time councilman Jeff Smith. Jennings says during the campaign, voters told him they wanted change. And Jennings will bring a new take on city government to the council, with an ambitious vision for neighborhood revitalization. But, he says, he's got other work to do first. "My first job is to get to learn about the city, and to get to know the other council members better, get to know the city staff, and so I want to have the time to do that," he said.
Jennings will need the cooperation of other City Council members if he's going to push forward his poverty-fighting agenda. He wants the city to address troubled neighborhoods' many problems at once by getting all the agencies involved to work together.
Cody Horbacz, an auto repair service manager, placed third. He won't get a council seat this time, but he says he'll run again. He hopes his youthful candidacy – he's only 28 – helped get more young people interested in local government. Jeff Smith, a physician's assistant and small businessman who's been a familiar figure on the council for years – and has challenged Mayor Jeff Graham for his job – trailed the other candidates. He defended a controversial zoning change that became known as Watertown's “roommate ban.”