FULTON — Political newcomer Ethan Parkhurst recently announced plans to run for mayor of Fulton, potentially giving residents heading to the polls in November a choice for the first time since 2011.
The 29-year-old Parkhurst says Fulton needs better communication from its leadership to give residents a voice in their government and more creative, forward-thinking ideas. Incumbent Republican Mayor Ron Woodward Sr., who has been mayor since 2008 and served a two-year stint in the 1980s, has previously indicated he plans to run for re-election but has not yet formally announced his candidacy.
Parkhurst says he’ll seek the Republican endorsement and plans to force a June primary if the local committees do not support his candidacy. Parkhurst called his platform “not party-specific,” saying he’d like to answer to the people of Fulton and respond to their wants and needs.
“Given the circumstance our city is in, I feel like we need unity rather than separation,” Parkhurst said.
Growing up in North Volney and Palermo, Parkhurst said he attended the Fulton City School District as a child but graduated from Mexico Academy and Central School District in 2008. Currently the owner of PCW Professionals, which he described as a small construction company based in Fulton, Parkhurst said lives in Fulton with his nine-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter.
Parkhurst believes he can reduce the tax burden on city residents by attracting businesses to the former Nestle site and putting other vacant and abandoned properties back on the tax roll. He said he’s dedicated to the city of Fulton and its residents, and has the drive and energy to fix the city’s problems.
Asked why he’s running for office, Parkhurst said economic growth in the city has stopped following the closure of the former Nestle plant and it’s time for something new. As a political newcomer, Parkhurst says he isn’t a polished politician, but asked the people of Fulton to give him a chance.
“What we’re doing right now is working, but it’s barely working,” he said. “Maybe change is necessary.”
The city of Fulton has developed “a bad name” and reputation in recent years, he said, and one of his main focuses as mayor would be repairing that name and reputation. Cleaning up streets, neighborhoods and the waterfront are important, Parkhurst said, noting the city must revamp it’s appearance in order to instill confidence and pride in residents.
“I believe in the citizens of Fulton, and I believe that we are better than what our city reflects at this moment in time,” he said. “
The city should take more advantage of state grant opportunities, Parkhurst said, pointing to the multitude of funds awarded to the city of Oswego. With the help of those grants, Parkhurst said nearby Oswego has been progressing forward.
“Why can’t Fulton prosper like that,” he asked. “(Mayor Billy Barlow) is one of the best things that happened to the city of Oswego, in my opinion, and I feel in my heart I can do the same.”
If Fulton officials reach out the proper channels and allies, Parkhurst said more opportunities would come to the city.
Parkhurst said while he feels compelled to run for mayor, he gave some consideration to run for a lower office first but did not believe he could make the necessary impact as a city councilor.
The people of Fulton should have more of a voice in their local government, Parkhurst said, adding he’d also like to provide a role for the city’s youth and surrounding municipalities in the city’s decision-making process.
Parkhurt said Granby, Volney and the surrounding municipalities “deserve a seat at the table,” adding the city could potentially save money and tackle problems by teaming up with neighboring towns and villages.
“The things we do in our city really affect Granby and they really affect Volney,” he said. “There’s opportunity to work together.”
Fulton leadership should also cooperate with the city of Oswego to help improve the entire county.
As mayor, Parkhurst said he would like to implement meetings for each city ward to develop a channel of communication between residents and city leadership. He commended Council President Don Patrick Jr., D-3rd Ward, for holding such meetings and said similar meetings should be held for each of the wards.
Parkhurst said he respects Woodward and appreciates his carrying the city through tough times, but believes it’s time for change.
“Times have changed, the people have changed and the city needs to change too,” he said.