OSWEGO, NY – Tom Gillen believes in Oswego and he wants others to join him on a venture to return the Port City to its former provenience – and more.
Gillen officially kicked off his campaign for mayor of Oswego Thursday evening at Vona’s Restaurant. The Democrat rally was attended by more than four dozen supporters including city and county officials.
Incumbent Randy Bateman announced earlier this spring that he was not going to seek re-election.
“We have a phenomenal, phenomenal candidate,” said Mike Kunzwiler, minority leader of the Oswego County Legislature. “He has the qualities that this party looks for – common sense, civility, leadership.”
Gillen will lead the city back to where it belongs, he said, adding, “I just don’t see that happening on the other side of the aisle.”
He described Gillen as “a positive candidate.”
He will continue the successes of Mayor Bateman, but also work with the community to initiate even more success, Kunzwiler said.
“That’s what we have to do. It’s not going to be done by a party or a person alone. It’s going to take the community, united behind a leader,” he said.
People get into politics for a variety of reasons, the mayor said.
“Most do because they want to help better their community,” he said. “Tom Gillen is one of those people. The man is articulate, he’s intelligent and most of all, this is very important, he is level headed. There are a myriad of issues that come before the mayor’s office in the city. And, we have to have somebody in there that is going to be a rock!”
“His slogan is ‘Believe in Oswego.’ We need to believe in Tom,” said Oswego City Democratic Committee Chair Kirk Coates.
“He’s got a good head on his shoulders,” Mayor Bateman said. “I think he’ll make some wise decisions.”
“This really is about you guys, we’re all in this together,” the candidate told the roomful of supporters. “One of the things that impresses me about the people of Oswego is that they can come together – especially when times get tough.”
“If we don’t do something now, I don’t know when we’ll ever have that chance again,” he continued. “Oswego is a very special place. We (my family) love Oswego. You do, too, you live here; you know what I’m talking about. We have the history, the natural resources.”
Gillen was born and raised in Oswego. He was employed as a sales manager for a large communications company. The experience he gained there is something that would help him run the city, he noted.
“You don’t get a lot accomplished with a sledge hammer. It’s understanding people’s needs, their problems and bringing people together. My communication skills made me very qualified for this job,” he said.
He noted that he is retired.
“The quality of life reflects the quality of people that live in the city. We’ve got the best people that I’ve ever met. We have the ability to really transcend (these tough times). We’ve got to bring jobs here,” he added. “We have an old city, full of character and class, that just needs a little love and attention. It’s time to stop complaining we can’t do this. We can do this.”
Gillen said he will be 62 years old tomorrow (Friday) morning.
It coincides with the date of the royal wedding. So, for the last four months he has been reminded by the media of how many days were left until April 29, he quipped.
“I challenge people to believe in Oswego like I do. That’s all I’m asking. This is our opportunity to save this great old city,” he said. “It’s our turn to write the next chapter! I’d like to think that in four years we can come back here and say, ‘Wow, it is really getting better.’ I know we can. This is not some kind of crazy dream.”