Pair launch Ogdensburg write-in bids

A crowd gathers under the marquee of the Ogdensburg Cinema, where Jeffery M. Skelly and John A. Rishe launched their write-in campaigns for mayor and City Council, respectively. Tom Graser/Watertown Daily Times

OGDENSBURG — Jeffery M. Skelly, owner of JMS Mechanicals and John A. Rishe, the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority’s director of commercial and industrial development, officially launched their joint write-in campaigns Monday evening for mayor and City Council, respectively.

More than 100 vocal supporters gathered on the sidewalk in front of the shuttered Ogdensburg Cinemas that Mr. Skelly purchased earlier this year. The two-screen venue has been closed since 2012.

Mr. Skelly and Mr. Rishe think that city government isn’t doing enough to help businesses and that taxes have gotten out of control.

“We started talking about our ambitions for the city,” Mr. Rishe said about how the pair got started. “Mike is an entrepreneur, he invested a lot of money in the Washington Street School, beautiful apartments and he wants to do more here at the movie theater but he has run into obstacles — taxes, assessments, no assistance. So we decided to team up, a Democrat and a Republican.”

The biggest obstacle facing the pair is that they are too late to get on the ballot and will have to run a write-in campaign.

Mr. Rishe said he figures they will need about 1,600 votes.

In the last city election, Mayor Wayne L. Ashley won his seat with 1,233 votes.

Mr. Skelly said they would be handing out pens to explain how to write-in a vote and they would be going door-to-door with ballots explaining to people how to cast a write-in vote that will count.

Mr. Skelly said he was excited about the enthusiasm he sees for his mayoral campaign.

“I don’t think any other candidate has the enthusiasm of the people that we do,” he said.

Mr. Skelly said he was inspired to run after dealing with city government with his entrepreneurial efforts.

“People that we pay good money to have been hindering,” he said. “If we don’t change it, we’re never going to go anywhere.”

Mr. Skelly enters a race that already has two candidates on the ballot.

Mr. Ashley, a Republican and a 38-year veteran of the City Police Department, is finishing up his first term as mayor. His Democratic opponent is Samuel J. LaMacchia, a retired educator and former chairman of the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority Board of Directors. He served eight years on City Council ending in 2008, six years on the Ogdensburg Zoning Board and four years on the Ogdensburg City School District Board of Education.

There are three seats being contested on City Council with five qualified candidates.

All three incumbents are running.

City Councilor David G. Price, a Republican, is completing his first four-year term on the board. Democratic incumbent Jennifer Stevenson is running for a third term and incumbent Councilman Timothy P. Davis is running after completing his first term.

They are being challenged by Republican Steve Fisher, a retired police detective and Republican William Dillabough, a former restaurant operator who now works as a salesman at Parkway.

There is a fourth seat on the council up for vote this election. It is the last two years of the seat held by former Councilor Shawn R. Shaver, who resigned in February over a residency question.

The only candidate for that seat is Michael B. Powers, head of the New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association, who was appointed to fill Mr. Shaver’s seat by City Council in March.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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