Watertown is holding a primary election next Tuesday for two seats on the City Council. The election is non-partisan, so all six candidates are running for the chance to move on to the general election in November. A Meet-the-Candidates event was held Thursday at the city's Italian-American Civic Association.
The candidates weighed in on issues ranging from economic development, to fluoride in the water supply, to making Watertown a more welcoming place for dogs during the two-hour question-and-answer session. Several dozen people came to listen.
Local media and the audience asked questions to draw out the candidates' priorities.
Two incumbents have the most name recognition. Teresa Macaluso owns a local coffee shop and said she's helped to create a more collegial atmosphere on the council. She wants to offer small businesses tax incentives similar to those large-scale projects often receive.
Jeff Smith is a physician's assistant and owns an urgent care center. He's known as a strong advocate for alternative energy. He said fiscal stability is the city's number one issue.
Four newcomers are vying for the seats.
Stephen Jennings is a planner with Jefferson County's Public Health Service. He said he wants to revitalize struggling neighborhoods.
Jasmine Borregine came to the North Country with her father, a Fort Drum soldier. She teaches gymnastics and volunteers at the Watertown Urban Mission. She said the high cost of living makes it hard for young people to stay in the area.
Rod LaFave is a sales engineer for an electronics company. He said his priority is jobs for young people.
Cody Horbacz, a service consultant at an auto dealership, wants to create a dog park to make the city more friendly to their owners. He's a strong critic of the city's tax breaks for big housing developers.
Primary day is next Tuesday. All registered voters in the city can cast a ballot. Four of the six candidates will advance to the general election in November. That will determine who gets the two City Council seats.