OSWEGO, NY – Republican mayoral candidate Billy Barlow spoke with a group of local business owners regarding areas of concern for the city and answering any questions the group may have.
Barlow was the third and final participant in the ‘Meet the Candidates’ event put on by the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce, following write-in candidate, Tom Gillen and Democratic candidate, Amy Tresidder.
Barlow, an Oswego native, found himself returning to his roots even after graduating college, buying a house, and establishing a budding business for Barlow’s Concessions in Arizona.
But Barlow felt that if he was going to be home he wanted to be involved and make a difference, so in 2013 Billy Barlow ran for Fifth Ward Councilman.
After winning the Fifth Ward seat, Barlow went on to establish connections on the state level and become the Central New York Regional Director for the minority of the New York State Assembly and Leader Brian Kolb.
With these connections and this experience along with his first term as councilman, Barlow said he is ready to tackle some of the situations he deems as problem areas for the city.
First on that list, Barlow addressed taxes and his opposition to tax increases like the city had experienced in recent years when residents had their taxes increased 43%.
“Substantial tax increases are repellents. People flee from that, which means businesses flee from that too. To prevent tax increases we need to identify and go after wasteful spending,” Barlow said.
Barlow feels he has the vision to facilitate how and where the city’s resources are used, and therefore can help prevent large tax increases for city residents.
Following up with that point, Barlow moved into code enforcement, an area he feels faces many issues and he is very passionate about.
One of Barlow’s primary goals in office is to restore a number of local neighborhoods.
In doing so, he believes there should be a code enforcement office that reports directly to the mayor to ensure things are being prioritized and followed up with.
Recognizing that this was a previously used practice, Barlow expressed that he believed the office failed in the past due to a lack of facilitating what the city needs, an issue he thinks he will be able to rectify if he is elected mayor of Oswego.
Currently, Barlow feels most code enforcement work is commercial based but feels there is a real need for residential work on Bridge Street specifically, but along with the first, second and third wards as well as sprinkled throughout the city.
“Bridge Street should be our best street, but unfortunately it’s our worst. There’s a lot of houses on that street that are in the same condition they have been since I was born. 104 Corridor is a great project, and we need to keep our foot on the gas pedal with that. That includes keeping it clean, dealing with trees, making it pedestrian friendly and bike friendly,” said Barlow.
His final point for troublesome areas of the city was that of community development.
Barlow used a metaphor to selling lemonade as he would with his family business, Barlow’s Concessions.
“If I’m working a lemonade stand in a field with ten other lemonade stands and I want you to come buy my lemonade, there’s a few things I need to do. First, I need to attract you to my stand and not the competitors. Then I need to leave you feeling like you had a pleasant interaction when you walk away. And of course, you have to like the lemonade. Then I’m pretty ensured you will be a happy and returning customer,” said Barlow. “This is the same way we need to approach attracting people to want to buy in our neighborhoods.”
Customer service, a related issue according to Barlow, could be better served through the zoning and planning office.
As questioned by one of the local business owners, Barlow feels the answer to encouraging students both out of high school and SUNY Oswego to stay local comes from convincing companies to relocate here.
“These students are graduating and going to places where the degrees they just earned will pay off. A lot of their fields aren’t in this immediate area. That’s why we need better branding and marketing for the city. We need to take Oswego on the road. No one is going to close their eyes and point to the map and say, ‘this is it.’ We need to make it known to everyone what Oswego has to offer, provide a customer base to where companies can serve people their product,” said Barlow.
Teaming his plans to resolve these issues with other fixes such as promoting tourism by having a greeter welcoming incoming boats to the city as well as making downtown a “livable, walkable” vibrant part of the city by combating parking issues, Barlow feels confident in his ability to make change if he should become mayor.