FULTON — Tom Kenyon, a lifelong resident of Fulton who served as the 1st Ward councilor for 14 years, is running for Mayor Deana Michaels’ seat in November.
“The people in Fulton are not happy with the mayor that’s in there now, and most of the council,” Kenyon said in an interview. “They’ve been calling me, and I said, ‘you know what? I’m going to throw my hat in the ring because I don’t like the way we’re headed either.’”
Kenyon will run as a Conservative and is endorsed by the Conservative Party of Oswego. He previously ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2011.
It is unclear if Michaels, a Republican, will run for reelection this fall. Michaels was elected to a four-year mayoral term in 2019. The Palladium-Times reached out to Michaels’ office for comment but received no response.
Ronald Greenleaf, chair of the Oswego Conservative Party, said he does not yet know if Kenyon will also run on the Republican Party line or potentially force a Republican primary. If there was a Republican primary and Kenyon were to lose, he would still be able to run in the general election as a Conservative as he did in 2011, Greenleaf said.
Greenleaf said Kenyon “has a fair shot at (becoming mayor), especially if he forces a Republican primary.”
Elizabeth Passer, the Oswego County Democratic Committee chair, said the committee is screening potential candidates for the mayor’s race this fall.
A Conservative and a Republican facing off in a general election could mean a potential advantage for a Democrat, because it might split like-minded voters.
In a letter to the editor published Jan. 25 in The Palladium-Times, Kenyon said, “We deserve a Fulton that people want to move to, where businesses can thrive, and where people will come visit and enjoy what the city can offer. We need change; we can’t continue in this direction.”
Kenyon, 78, said community members had expressed frustrations to him about empty storefronts and increased taxes. He also criticized Mayor Michaels’ office for being unresponsive and unavailable to the public.
Kenyon said he wants to “open up city hall again” and make it more accessible to the people of Fulton and less appointment-based.
“The last few years, I have noticed that the city government does not communicate with us and each other and does not allow us to participate with them in creating a community that we can be proud of. You can’t ask questions at meetings anymore, councilors don’t answer their phone calls, and you can’t access the mayor’s office without an appointment,” Kenyon said in the letter.
“As mayor, I will open up my office to the public, questions will be answered at meetings, I will listen to your concerns, I will create a more transparent government and together, we will make Fulton a great place to live, work and play.”
“I have seen what happens when city officials stop listening to the public, stop answering questions of the public, and refuse to problem solve and respond to the needs of the public,” Kenyon said in the letter. “This is the Fulton we have now, and we deserve better.”
“I think it’s the taxpayers’ city hall. They can come in and talk to the mayor anytime they want to ... if they’re not busy,” Kenyon said in an interview. “I don’t like appointments because if it’s 10 days down the road, it could be too late by then.”
In addition to being endorsed by the Conservative Party of Oswego County, Kenyon also serves on its executive board, Greenleaf said.
As of Nov. 1, 2022, there were 2,587 registered Republicans and 165 registered Conservatives in the City of Fulton out of 6,639 voters, according to the New York State Board of Elections. There were 1,813 registered Democrats in the City of Fulton, with the remainder affiliated with smaller parties or no party at all.
In 2019, Michaels, running on the Republican and Conservative party lines, garnered 51% of the votes, easily defeating her three opponents.
In 2011, Kenyon lost to then-incumbent Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr. in the Republican Party primary, then ran in the general election as the candidate of the Conservative and the New Direction parties.
Woodward, who also had the Democratic Party endorsement, was reelected with 1,296 votes or 56% of the vote, followed by Kenyon with 634 votes (27%) and Ralph Stacy Jr. on The Future is Here Party line with 40l votes (17%).
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