OSWEGO — Port City councilors Rob Corradino and John Gosek Jr. are both seeking their third consecutive term on the Oswego Common Council without opposition, and the pair is looking use another term to continue the city’s positive momentum after overseeing what some would characterize as Oswego’s resurgence over the past three-plus years.
The Republican lawmakers, who first took office in January 2016, are the longest tenured representatives on the city council with five of the seven seats currently occupied by first-term legislators. With each of the other five seats contests on Election Day, it’s possible the two could be the only representatives on a new council with experience come January.
Corradino, who is running on the Republican, Conservative and Independence party ballot lines, currently serves as council president after being elected by his peers in 2018 and re-elected earlier this year. He said earlier this year that, if elected to another two-year term representing the Seventh Ward, he would seek to continue building positive moment within the city and making it a better place to live.
The Seventh Ward encompasses an area in the southwest corner of the city, including the areas around the Oswego Middle School. The Seventh Ward runs south from roughly Tallman Street to the southern city border with Oswego Town and the town of Minetto, and from the Oswego River west to Johnson Road.
Earlier this year, he said his first campaign was focused on bringing jobs to Oswego and that’s still at the top of his agenda.
“Jobs solve a lot of problems for a community,” he said in March. “That’s what we need in Oswego to help our whole economy.”
Part of creating more jobs is ensuring the city is more affordable, and Corradino pointed to the city’s first tax cut in many years and a reduction in sewer and water bills over the past year as items that would help accomplish that. Corradino said as a councilor he would continue to look for ways to increase revenue and cut expenses to continue easing the financial burden on taxpayers.
Corradino said officials have done well promoting and capitalizing on the city’s assets over the last few years, and pledged to continue working toward that end in another term. He said the promotion of local events, such as Haborfest, Super DIRT Week, Paddlefest and a variety of others would be important to help Oswego continue its recent growth and improvement, drawing visitors to the city to patronize local shops and restaurants.
“Sales tax is our number one source of revenue and I fully support organizations and events that can help us increase our sales tax income,” said Corradino, who also led the way in revamping the city’s softball program in 2018 — a process that drew a number of tournaments to the city. “Anything that we can capitalize on.”
Corradino, who has worked in the printing industry as a factory representative for more than 40 years, said the approval of the 2019 budget in August 2018 was one of the most significant accomplishments in his time on the council. Officials at the time pointed to the first budget in more than 50 years that reduced taxes without using the city’s savings, or fund balance, as evidence their approach is working.
Councilors followed up the 2019 tax cut by passing a 2020 budget earlier this year that holds property taxes level next year.
A reduction to certain users’ sewer and water costs earlier this year was all the more rewarding, Corradino said, as the city was hit with a $1 million shortfall when he took office due to the expiration of a 20-year-old agreement related to the sale of a water tunnel through the city.
Corradino said Monday that in speaking with residents on the campaign trail—he said he’s stopped at “almost all the houses in the ward” over the past month—there’s a general feeling among constituents that the city is heading in the right direction. Despite not having an opponent, Corradino said it’s important to go out and speak with residents in the ward, as it gives them an opportunity to discuss any potential issues that might not have been urgent enough to make a phone call or send an email.
The veteran councilor also noted providing constituents with a connection to city hall is an important part of representing the Seventh Ward, adding he tries to answer calls or emails within 24 hours.
“I think it’s important if someone reaches out with a complaint, suggestion or comment, not only do I respond to them, but to be their voice within city government,” he said in March. “Because ultimately, I feel it’s a great honor to represent the city of Oswego and specifically the Seventh Ward. They’ve elected me twice, and I’m looking for a third time. It’s been one of the highest honors I’ve ever had to have this job and I don’t take it lightly.”
Gosek, who served in a leadership role as council vice president in 2018, is running on the Republican Party ballot line, and said in an interview earlier this year the city is moving in a positive direction and officials must continue to provide relief to taxpayers and make strategic investments that improve residents’ quality of life.
A lifelong Oswego resident, Gosek has represented the city’s Fifth Ward — an area on the west side of the Oswego River that stretches roughly from Mohawk Street south to Tallman Street, and runs west from the river to state Route 104 and Johnson Road—since 2016 and is facing no opposition for the second straight election.
The city’s strategic investments into public spaces, equipment and code enforcement in recent years have produced “tangible results” and moved the city forward, Gosek said, adding he hopes to continue those efforts with another term on the council.
“The quality of life seems to be improving here slowly but surely,” Gosek said earlier this year. “There’s a sense of excitement.”
Making Oswego a more desirable destination for tourists and prospective residents while maintaining affordability and a high quality of life for current residents is his main objective, Gosek said, noting that means a revitalized economy and a community that is attractive to families and young professionals.
Throughout his two terms, Gosek has described himself as a defender of the working class, questioning certain expenses and arguing against anything that might raise costs for residents.
Gosek called reducing property taxes and other costs the “crowning achievements” of his time in office, pointing to the 2019 tax cut and several years of limiting the growth of city costs.
“I know the economic reality here in central New York and Oswego isn’t the best,” Gosek said, adding that easing that burden on his constituients is “the most important, to me.”
Improving quality of life and increasing property values has been important to Gosek through his first two terms, he said, pointing to the city’s revamped code enforcement department and combatting problematic landlords and properties.
Gosek has spent more than 15 years as a history teacher at Pulaski High School and has been known to speak passionately in the council chambers about the Port City’s history, culture and natural assets. Gosek says investments in those assets in recent years are something the city has placed a priority on, adding those efforts should continue.
“Our cultural and historical landmarks here in Oswego — we have some treasures,” Gosek said, adding city officials have committed funds to restore the historic West Pierhead Lighthouse, Richardson-Bates House and city hall in recent years.
Gosek, in a brief interview Monday, also pointed to a recently adopted chapter of city code aimed at environmental protections and noted the
Asked if there was anything specific that might be a focal point of a third term, Gosek said the city council might have to address downtown parking in the coming years. Finding a parking spot downtown can be a difficult task at times, and Gosek says the upcoming addition of residential and retail space could create a serious parking issue.
“Personally, I’d like to see if the council and the mayor could work together to get some sort of feasibility study on a parking garage,” Gosek said. “The reality is with all this development the problem isn’t going to go away. It’s been here for decades and one of the biggest obstacles to the development of our downtown and investment in it is — if you’re adding all this housing and retail space — where people are going to park.”
The veteran Fifth Ward councilor also said one issue important to him is seeing through the final phases of the Kingsford Park playground. He said he would also push to apply for grand funding to improve the west side river walk, which in some areas is aging and in recent years has been damaged.
Gosek told The Palladium-Times it’s been “an honor and a privilege” to serve the hardworking people of the city’s Fifth Ward, and vowed to continue doing his best to represent them for another term.
Election Day is Nov. 5.