OSWEGO — Lifelong Oswego County resident and political newcomer Mike Anthony, a plant ombudsman at Novelis’ Scriba facility, is seeking a spot on the Oswego County Legislature this fall.
Anthony, 62, is running to represent the county Legislature’s district 17, which is currently occupied by Legislator Shane Broadwell, who earlier this year announced he would not be seeking re-election. Backed by the Scriba Republican Committee and Broadwell, Anthony is set to square off against Oswego City Republican Committee Chair Laurie Mangano Cornelius in a June 25 Republican Primary.
District 17 encompasses the east side of the city of Oswego and portions of the town of Scriba. Anthony has lived in the district on Bayshore Drive, where he raised three children, for more than 30 years.
“I’ve been living here a lot of years and I want to give back a little,” Anthony said when asked why he chose to run for office, adding he would bring “fresh eyes and fresh ears” to the county Legislature as a political outsider.
Though he’s a political newcomer, Anthony said he has “a thirst to learn new things and to face new challenges.”
A former union electrician, Anthony has spent more than 40 years working in Oswego County at Owens-Illinois, Hammermill, Sealright and Huhtamaki and then most recently at Alcan and Novelis. Anthony pointed out two of those previous facilities closed during his employment.
“So I know all about closing facilities and what it’s like to go and find work when you have three or four hundred people looking for work,” Anthony said.
For the last 10 years, Anthony has served as plant ombudsman for Novelis, a role he says requires him to be an active listener and negotiator, and identify problems before they turn into major issues — attributes he says would serve him well as a legislator.
Anthony said leadership on budgeting and capital spending has been part of his purview at Novelis, often serving as the voice of the needs of the employees.
Each day, Anthony said it’s his job to help employees resolve issues and act as “a go-between,” noting maintaining employee morale is an important part of that work. Anthony said as a legislator, the morale of the county workforce would be a focal point as they are the “front line” against the issues the county is facing.
“It is my responsibility to understand the issues and concerns of more than 1,200 employees and ensure that they are shared with the management team in a way that results in our ability to run a safe and productive business,” Anthony said of his Novelis responsibilities. “I am basically the conduit for the flow of information between plant management and the shop floor, solving problems for our employees in a way that is consistent with company policy and procedure.”
Anthony said through his experience and the thousands of conversations with people at Novelis and around the county — at all different levels of employment — he has come to appreciate the issues people face in their everyday lives.
Most people care about basic needs, such as properly maintained infrastructure, quality education for children, jobs, safety, service and affordability, he said, while also pointing to “big picture issues,” such as the ongoing drug epidemic, poverty, quality housing and preservation of natural resources.
“A lot of it is quality of life issues,” Anthony said. “You have to have the jobs and things in place for folks to live comfortably.”
Anthony said several years ago he served as Novelis’ coordinator with the local United Way, and at that time his eyes were opened to the poverty level in the community.
In order to solve the big picture issues, such as poverty, Anthony said cooperation is needed from local, state and federal partners, and his work experience could help bridge the gap between constituents and their representatives to better solve those problems.
“Every single day I’m in negotiations and every day I’m problem solving,” Anthony said of his work at Novelis, adding a willingness to work with everyone at the table to find the best path forward is something people should expect from elected representatives. “What I think I am uniquely qualified to do is to understand the issues and work to be a part of the solution.”
Anthony said his opponent Mangano Cornelius is a formidable candidate who would also do well in the role.
Primary elections are June 25. Election Day is Nov. 5.