OSWEGO — Former city councilman Shawn Walker is running to reassume the post he held for a decade following a two-year absence, and says as Fourth Ward councilor he would continue his previous efforts aimed at improving neighborhoods and vows to always be accessible to constituents.
Walker, who served five terms spanning a decade as Fourth Ward councilor, stepped down at the end of 2017 after reaching the maximum number of consecutive terms allotted. The longtime Republican councilor is eyeing a return to the city government just two years later as his successor, and current councilor, Robert Wilmott, R-4th Ward, is seeking a seat on the Oswego County Legislature.
The Port City’s fourth ward stretches from the Oswego River east to City Line Road and Kocher Road, running through the city’s eastside core, from Oneida Street south to approximately Lawrence Street, before widening on the eastern end where it runs from East Seneca Street south to East Albany Street.
Political newcomer Diane Zeller, a SUNY Oswego professor running on the Democratic and Working Families party lines, is challenging Walker, who is running on the Republican, Conservative and Independence party ballot lines.
Walker, who served on the council from 2008 to 2018 and served in leadership roles including council president in 2016, called Mayor Billy Barlow “probably the most productive” mayor that he worked with in his tenure on the council. He said “there’s a good group” on the council right now, adding another term in office would allow him to help “keep the momentum going” and move the city further forward.
Married with two children — one who serves as a police officer in the city — Walker said his initial run for the council started with a neighborhood issue that drove him to make a bid for the office. Ultimately, Walker said the post lasted a decade because of his affection for the city he grew up in.
“I love the city,” Walker said earlier this year. “I grew up in the city over on the west side and it wasn’t going in the right path, truthfully. I believe it is now.”
Earlier this year, Walker told The Palladium-Times the two-year hiatus was strictly due to reaching the term limit and that he didn’t want to leave the council.
Stepping back into politics after a two-year hiatus would take some minor adjustment, Walker said earlier this year, but noted he’s been staying up-to-date from afar and believes governing is mostly “common sense.”
Over the past two years Walker said he continued assisting constituents with their needs, something he says is one of the most important parts of serving on the council. Throughout campaign season, Walker said he’s made an effort to “knock on every door,” and after speaking with residents it appears their biggest concern is having a councilor who interacts with constituents and helps them navigate city government.
“People want representation and they want a voice,” Walker said. “If they call someone they want a call back from a councilor in a timely fashion and I’ve always done that.”
Walker vowed to always return constituent phone calls within 24 hours, noting he maintains a landline telephone for Fourth Ward residents to call and checks message and returns phone calls at lunch time and after work each day.
Walker, who is a supervisor for the Oswego County Highway Department, said the condition of city roadways and sidewalks is a frequent issue that residents brought up and pledged to ensure paving funds are utilized properly and efficiently.
Another item that came up often with constituents was code enforcement, according to Walker said. He said code enforcement and tackling “drug houses” in the city to create safe neighborhoods would continue to be a top priority.
Walker said he’s been “100 percent on board” with the city’s push to strengthen code enforcement and rework the zoning code — some of which started during his last term on the council — and would continue pushing those efforts forward.
Election Day is Nov. 5.