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Kevin Rivoli, The Citizen 

Council Chambers in Memorial City Hall, Auburn.

Current Auburn councilor Cuddy looking to 'see through' what he started

Current Auburn City Councilor Terry Cuddy has worked the past four years to make city hall more accessible to the residents of Auburn. Now, the Democrat is seeking re-election and wants to "see through" what he started during his first term. 

"Four years ago, my motivations were to address what I thought was a city that was going in the wrong direction," Cuddy said. "I wanted to restore the functionality of the city."

When he joined the council in 2013, the city's financial situation was poor, as the city was facing a multimillion-dollar budget deficit, the city didn't have a comptroller or a full-time codes department and the council at the time had a contentious relationship with city staff, Cuddy said. 

"It just seemed that there was a lot of negative energy, a dark cloud that got in the way of progress," he said.

The Democrat said Auburn has made improvements since 2013 — the city's finances are more stable, a comptroller was hired and the city's code enforcement department is back to full time. But he also acknowledged the challenges still facing the city today.  

The Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES teacher said his main priorities if he is elected for another term are water quality, improving Auburn's neighborhoods and promoting industry and tourism in the city. 

Cuddy, a member of Save Owasco Now!, said he is advocating for a long-term, comprehensive solution to combat harmful algal blooms and improve the welfare of Owasco Lake, which is Auburn's public drinking water source. The Auburn native also said he wants to continue to combat the abandoned "zombie" properties is Auburn's neighborhoods.   

"Downtown has become more welcoming and we want to focus on taking that energy and begin to address some of the issues in the neighborhoods," he said.

Additionally, the 45-year-old wants to see the city become a more welcoming place for businesses and industry.   

"We've had some success since I've been on the council," Cuddy said, citing Tessy Plastics' expansion into the Auburn Industrial Park and NUCOR Steel's $30 million investment into its Auburn plant. "This is a city that supports what they have but also looks for new opportunities." 

As for why he would be a good candidate, Cuddy said he is "very good at working with people, trying to find common ground, find a solution."

"A lot of time there's been disagreement, and I've been very successful at creating an environment where policy can happen and gridlock can be overcome," he said. 


Terry Cuddy

Incumbent McCormick hopes experience will give her edge in Auburn City Council race

Incumbent city councilor and lifelong Auburn resident Debby McCormick said she wants to transform Auburn into the community she remembers growing up in. 

"When I look back, and of course when you're growing up you don't realize it, I think Auburn was a great place to grow up and I would want it to be that way again,” she said.

If elected for a second term, the 60-year-old Democrat said she wants to tackle the city's zombie property issue. McCormick said she and the rest of city council has already begun to address the abandoned properties by reopening the city's codes office full time, hiring another code enforcement officer and a new corporation counsel, as well as introducing the Brighter Side program designed to help property owners avoid foreclosure on their properties. 

"I would love to get that under control," she said.

Additionally, McCormick said Owasco Lake and the watershed is a top priority. Her time on the Owasco Lake Watershed Inspection and Management committees has given her the experience and knowledge necessary to help remedy the issue. 

"It's a very complicated thing and its taken me a good two years to really get it," McCormick said. "I've got a lot of experience on the committee and with the different agencies that I think is valuable. I just want to take advantage of the people I've built relationships with and the knowledge I have. I want to continue that work."

Before being elected to the city council in 2013, McCormick worked as the Auburn city clerk for 13 years. That experience, she said, has helped her in her role as a city councilor. 

"I've held leadership roles in the past so I know what a leader needs to do and what a leader shouldn't do," McCormick said. "(As the city clerk) you really support the city council, so I have a lot of history in my head that is very helpful to being a good city councilor. And I have a lot of connections with people in the community."

Overall, McCormick said she and the current council have done a lot of good things over her four-year term and wants to continue working on them. She said she is excited to see the Harriet Tubman National Park and the Equal Rights Cultural Heritage Center projects come to fruition. 

"Hopefully what I've been doing speaks for itself," she said. "I just want to do what's best for the city of Auburn and the people who live here." 

Why 'Auburn First' will play second fiddle on city election ballots

Most Democratic candidates for Auburn City Council or Cayuga County Legislature seats are technically running on multiple ballot lines, including Auburn First. But on nearly every ballot in the city's six election districts, Auburn First will not have its own line. 

The reason: A provision in state election law that prohibits candidates from appearing on independent ballot lines if they already have at least two political party lines. 

Incumbent Auburn city councilors Terry Cuddy and Debby McCormick will appear on the Democratic and Working Families party lines. They also circulated petitions to run on Auburn First, an independent line. Elane Daly, a candidate for county Legislature in District 11, also has the Democratic, Working Families and Auburn First lines. 

But because Auburn First is an independent body and the three candidates already have two political party lines, Auburn First must share space with one of the party lines. 

Cuddy, Daly and McCormick each added Auburn First under the Working Families Party line. 

"They get a choice of which line to put it on," said Katie Lacey, the Cayuga County Democratic elections commissioner. 

The purpose of the regulation is to prevent candidates from appearing on multiple independent lines. Statewide elected officials and state legislators are exempt from the law. 

John Conklin, a spokesman for the state Board of Elections, confirmed that the city of Auburn ballots are correct.

"If you have two parties and one independent body, the independent body (Auburn First) is combined with one of the parties to share a line," he said. "If you have one party and one independent body, they each get their own line."

That's why Robert Nodzo, a candidate for Cayuga County Legislature in the 13th District, will have a separate ballot line for Auburn First. He has the Democratic line, but unlike many of his colleagues, he doesn't have the Working Families Party line. 

Because he has one political party line, he's allowed to have a separate line for Auburn First. 

Camardo proposes job expos, town hall Tuesdays if elected for new Auburn City Council term

Former Auburn City Councilor John Camardo is seeking another term on the city's legislative board because he is unhappy with the direction Auburn has taken since he had a council seat two years ago.

"It is with renewed energy and unwavering passion to make Auburn a better place to live that I am running for re-election," he said. 

Camardo, a Republican who held a city councilor position from 2012 to 2015, said the city's taxes are too high. He said restructuring the city's budget is a "first and easily achievable step" toward lowering taxes while raising the value of living in Auburn.   

During his first term as a city councilor, Camardo said he reviewed the city's budget and found a $1 million mistake. He has proposed another complete city budget review if elected on Nov. 7. He said he feels "very confident" in his financial abilities.  

"I am ready to reach across the aisle to my colleagues to find solutions that are in the best interest of all tax paying citizens," he said. 

Camardo said there are not enough jobs in the area, which has caused Auburn's population to decline. Two of this three sons have left Auburn to work jobs in different cities. 

"We need major concentration on job growth," Camardo said. "When you grow the tax base and you have more people paying into the tax base, it's less of a burden on a small tax base."

The 53-year-old real estate developer said the city needs to focus on attracting big corporations, such as Amazon, to invest in Auburn. If elected, Camardo said he would hold bi-monthly, city-sponsored job expos "to showcase existing Auburn businesses, provide career opportunities to current and potential residents of Auburn, and lure new businesses and industry to the area."

Additionally, Camardo wants to ensure "effective and open communication with the public." If elected, he wants to have bi-monthly town hall Tuesdays where citizens can come speak with the city councilors "so that people have a voice because that's lost at city hall right now," he said.

Camardo said he believes his experience managing private businesses and his time on the city council makes him a qualified candidate for the job. 

"I know what it takes to get Auburn back on track and the simple answer is lower cost of living and higher quality of life," Camardo said. "I am ready to do everything in my power to earn your vote and ensure a brighter, stronger future for History's Hometown."

First-time candidate Miller hopes to bring fresh ideas to Auburn City Council

Republican Auburn City Council candidate Adam Miller hopes his underdog status and new ideas will separate him from his competitors and propel him to victory at the polls on Nov. 7. 

The 29-year-old first-time candidate said he has always been interested in politics and decided this was the time to get involved as he is unhappy with the direction the city of Auburn is headed in. 

"I'm a young person looking at a place where I would like to remain and live in Auburn and I can't see that happening if we continue down this path," Miller said. "I would like to make Auburn a place where I could have a family of my own someday and raise my children."

Miller said the city is "headed for financial crisis if something doesn't change."

Taxation and spending is "out of control" in Auburn, Miller said. In addition to combing through the budget to find "unnecessary spending," Miller said city officials need to learn to prioritize projects.

"We have to look at what projects do we need and what projects do we want and make sure the things that we need are completed first," the Auburn native said. 

For example, Miller said the current city council prioritized funding the Owasco Riverway Trail over fixing roads in the city. 

"We desperately need the roads fixed," he said. "I'm all for the walking trail, I think it's a good idea in a health-conscious society. But its not something that we need right now. We need to finish one thing at a time and the roads are what need our attention."

Miller said maintaining clean drinking water will be a priority for him if elected. He said the city is "headed in the right direction" but needs to do more. He suggested opening an outlet to increase circulation in the lake so the waters are not stagnant. 

Additionally, Miller said he wants to be an accessible voice for the people of Auburn.   

"It's more important to me that as a representative, I am a representative, not pushing any personal or political or party agenda, putting aside political differences to do what is best for the city of Auburn,” he said.

Miller feels his status as a political newcomer gives him an advantage over his competitors because he can better relate to the people of Auburn. 

"I'm just a regular citizen. I struggle day to day, paycheck to paycheck like everyone else and I think that can help me understand where the rest of the city is coming from, the struggles they're going through, and be an accurate voice in city hall for everyone.”

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John Camardo