Pictured (l to r):  Chris Anderson, Mayor Eddie Sundquist, and Cheri Krull (we were unable to get a picture of Eddie at this week's meeting.)
 
John Lloyd introduced our speaker who already spoke to us when he was candidate for mayor and is a prospective member!  Eddie Sundquist has been Mayor of Jamestown for 6 days and that includes the weekend!
 
As a reminder, Eddie graduated from JHS in 2007, and then pursued a political science degree at St. John Fisher College. He also attended University of Pennsylvania where he earned his Masters of Science degree in education before returning to Western New York and attending the University at Buffalo School of Law. He returned to Jamestown to practice law with Lewis & Lewis, P.C. before launching his successful run for Mayor in 2019.
 
Eddie noted that he expects to have a good relationship with the new city council and new council president, Tony Dolce.
 
He admitted to sitting down at the desk the 1st day on the job, and wondering “What did I get myself into?” It was overwhelming. Many department heads had questions and issues for him to review.
 
He is happy to report that every day is easier. He feels a sense of hope in the people he meets with.  The fresh leadership is attracting more people than ever to invest in the city.
 
The Mayor is always “on duty”. An example was Saturday night when he got a call from the fire chief. A building had collapsed and the perimeter needed to be made safe.
 
The burning question is how do we bring people together to deal with housing? Economic Development? Daily life? These issues will only be solved with input and support from everyone.
 
“Please call my office if you want to be a part!” the new mayor urges.
 
However, he is very impressed with the response he has seen from some city departments. A woman called to complain about a garbage issue. But she called back to thank him for help before he could even compose the e-mail to BPU.
The Mayor Sundquist says people should expect changes. For example, at tonight’s council work session they will be addressing ways that the government can be more transparent.
 
For example:
-online calendar regularly updated.
-livestream city council meetings
-post minutes and agendas.
 
Another place to expect changes is the Department of Development. It is looking for ways to be more proactive.
 
Looping back to the incident with the collapsed building, the Mayor will be  meeting with fire department to develop a process for identifying problem homes before they are a threat of collapsing.
 
When he opened the floor for questions, the new Mayor was first complimented for his efforts reaching out to the community and responding to correspondence. Rotarians noted that the open meetings before he took office were a wonderful first step. There were 4 community conversations at the schools. They touched on topics from taxes, housing, and economic development. In general, they were very well attended although weather cut the attendance at the last two. Lots of new people attended.
 
One takeaway from these meetings was that there is a huge population of remote workers. The Mayor wants to start to address their needs.
 
The Community Conversations will continue at least once a year.
 
When asked “What do you think will be your most difficult thing to face”, the response was, dealing with taxes. The goal has to be to lower the tax rate which will be hard since 40% of property is tax exempt. Jamestown will need to find new models, seeing what other cities are doing to address the issue.
 
Question: What is the transition plan for the 1st 12 months?
-transition team. Preparing the report for the next 4 years. It will be completed in March.
-keeping on key officials to help train the new appointees.
-meet with departments.
 
Question: How is the transition team gathering information?
The community conversations began it. They have a work plan listing who to talk to. Also canvassing what other cities are doing.
 
The new Mayor ended with a commitment to look into high speed internet to elevate Jamestown above other cities. He is a proponent of municipal fiber internet. Internet should be regulated as a utility and the City should take the lead. Funding is available to assist in this. This will help bring in businesses and improve the work environment for remote workers.
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