OSWEGO – Current Oswego Mayor, Tom Gillen addressed a group of 11 small business owners and others at Wednesday’s (Sept. 16) ‘Meet the Candidates’ event put on by the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce.
Alongside Executive Director of the Chamber, Greg Mills, Gillen was the first of the three Oswego city mayoral candidates to participate in ‘Meet the Candidates.’
During the meeting, Gillen recalled on his past four years in office, brought light to the remaining issues Oswego is facing along with his desired plan of action and answered any questions his audience had.
“The past four years have been daunting. This is not an easy job, I challenge anyone to do it. It’s a 24/7 job and it requires a lot of tough decisions,” said Gillen.
Recalling on one of those tough decisions, Mayor Gillen stood by his decision in previous years to raise taxes, despite unpopular response from the public.
“We are healthy financially now, and it’s because we did that awful deed. It’s about doing the right thing,” he explained.
Gillen’s belief in doing the right thing despite political views or popular opinion is part of what encouraged him to run in this year’s election as a write-in candidate, aside from not being asked to represent by his political party.
“Well, I wasn’t asked,” he started in his explanation. “The Democratic party decided for whatever reason not to ask me. I don’t understand that, but if my own party doesn’t want me, that’s OK because I don’t think politics is the answer right now. Leadership is not about being popular.”
Heathe Jones of Cre8 Studios urged for answers saying, “it’s apparent you still have it in your heart to make changes for the city, otherwise you wouldn’t be here. So why not go that extra step, be it running democratic or primary with Amy (Tresidder) or Independent?”
“Well, I didn’t want to be a splitter,” he answered. “They said ‘We’re going to go with Amy’, I said ‘That’s fine.’ I love Amy, she’s a great person, but I’m not going to say I wasn’t kind of disappointed. In fact, I was very disappointed. If Amy is the right person and the deserving person for the job, then she should have it. I just want her to understand the basic issues, it’s not democratic or republican. It’s about understanding the complexity of the city.”
Gillen is the first to admit that his campaign as a write-in is anything but usual, but did not deter him from running and continuing to spread his ideas and beliefs.
“I know a write-in campaign is unorthodox, unusual – it very rarely happens. I’m the odd man out, I know that, but that’s not what it’s about. It’s about what’s best for the city over what’s best for the political party. It’s about people who really want to make a difference,” Gillen said.
And making a difference is something Gillen feels he has done and hopes to continue for the city of Oswego, regardless of who wins the upcoming election.
“We are now in the right place at the right time. We’ve come a long way and that’s evident just by walking around our city. Oswego is energetic again, it’s happening,” Gillen said.
Gillen emphasized his fondness for the city of Oswego and his dedication to seeing the city continue to grow, thrive and become part of an extension of external connections across the globe.
With such big sights for Oswego’s future, Gillen urged his audience, “So if you’re serious, you don’t want to experiment with new leadership, you can just write my name. It’s Tom Gillen, I don’t think it’s particularly difficult,” he laughed.
The chamber’s ‘Meet the Candidates’ event will continue next Wednesday (September 23) as Democrat candidate Amy Tresidder will address an audience of local small business owners.
The event will continue to its finale the following Wednesday (September 30) when Republican Billy Barlow will be the last candidate to participate.
For more information on ‘Meet the Candidate’ times and locations, or to register as a guest to the event, please visit the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce website.