Q&A with City Council candidate Mark Potwora
Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.
Here is the Q&A with Mark Potwora.
If elected, what’s your #1 priority? My first priority, if elected, would educate myself on the protocol for being a member of city council.
I am running on a platform of replacing the city manager. In my opinion, he has presented budgets with higher tax levies year after year.
All this as council cut trash and ambulance services and privatized them. Which I did agree with. We were told that they were big budget items. The incumbents at large have also been on board with these increases in the tax rate. Also, I feel that his solution to the mall is just doubling down on ownership as the answer to all the mall problems. All the city did was agree to do what they were expected to do in the beginning and that maintain the concourse which he didn't do and now ten years later the problem is going to cost more then if the city had been doing it in the first place. Also, it cost the taxpayers more in court and lawyer fees. We need a new manager with skills and vision to not allow in this case the mall, to go to this extreme to be solved. We need a manager responsible to the people. He works for us. As I walked many streets going door to door talking to hundreds of residents getting signatures and introducing myself for the most part the underlying theme I heard was it is was time for a new manager and that we should be out of the mall business and our tax rate should be lowered. No one said we need more brewery/restaurants. In the end, it is all about change at the top and that would be replacing the city manager
There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you do to accelerate the revitalization process? First off I don't know what core businesses you mean. When I look at Main I see a bar/restaurant trying to open for the last couple of years with the help of taxpayer dollars. I see empty storefronts (Carrs building, hair salon and another empty building on the corner. On Jackson, there are a few others. Across the street, I see a mall with many empty storefronts. In fact, the city owns nine of them. No revitalization there. Just a statement that someday they will be filled. I would rather see lower tax rate for all businesses, not just a select few that get abatements or grants. The BID should be part of the solution but that is just another tax on a business which some would say with little results. BDC seems to function as an extended arm of the GCEDC. Seems they need the involvement the GCEDC to move forward on a project. Ex is Arby's. So I would say why are we funding the BDC? Eliminate it and save the taxpayer some money.
What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why? What is the role of city government? Those that live here decide what services they need and can afford. I can only ask for more efficiency in all city departments (DPW, police, fire) after all those who work in those departments are more apt to know where the process can be done better. I don't mean managers I mean those who fight the fires, patrol the streets and maintain the infrastructure. They should be rewarded or compensated for saving taxpayers money.
What business, leadership, or economic training and experience to you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates? I have worked for a major corporate-owned business, been a member of a union for 30 years, held office statewide for a political party. But I would say what is most important is the many years I have lived in this city. Paid property taxes. Raised a family. Balance my budget every year. Learn how to live with in my means. So I do understand what is takes to maintain a home here in Batavia. I have no conflict of interests.
I do see how many are struggling to pay the taxes that the city imposes on them. but too many are on fixed incomes and are having a hard time making ends meet to stay in those homes that they raised families in for many years.
What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and government?
Harrison Bergeron, by Kurt Vonnegut It is a story essay that in reading it I can see where government can take us. That to get equality you need government control. Which IMO is dangerous.
Don't Hurt People And Don't Take Their Stuff, by Matt Kibbie. Title says it all.