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5-way mayoral battle gets weekly screen test

The five-way campaign for mayor is being played out in a ready-made weekly forum -- via televised coverage of the Common Council.

Human Party candidate Scott Paoletto, one of five candidates seeking the city's top post, and Barry Gan, a Ward 4 candidate for alderman running on the Independence Party line, both take the podium weekly to make their ideas known, and their images are broadcast into constituents' living rooms via BOCES cable Channel 6.

The images of three mayoral hopefuls -- Mayor William J. Quinlan on the Working Families ticket, Ward 1 Alderman Glenn R. Van Dixon on the Conservative line and Ward 2 Alderwoman Joyce L. Melfi, the Democratic nominee -- are also seen regularly conducting legislative business during the weekly broadcast.

Paoletto offered Tuesday to pick up his shovel and help the Public Works Department dig some tree roots out of the East End sewer system. He also criticized a $24,000 price tag for design consulting fees and a 10-year wait to begin repairs while urging the city to take advantage of the state's "rubber checkbook" to obtain funding.

Paoletto then asked for a wage freeze for city workers and repeated some firefighter wage figures he presented in a previous session, noting that they have been described by Quinlan as "low-ball" numbers. He concluded by describing the city's municipal airport in Ischua as a waste of money.

Gan asked the Council to name homeowner loan recipients and to reword a resolution to clarify plans to continue sampling and abandon a monitoring well at the city's closed and leaking landfill on the airport property. The Council ignored the advice and later unanimously voted to authorize engineers to abandon the well.

None of the other candidates used the time to comment Tuesday, but Quinlan said during a break in the schedule that he decided against bowing out of the race, instead gathering about 70 of his supporters together Monday night to ramp up the campaign.

"It would have been easy to walk away from all the issues, but I got my own dander up when I thought about the next four years when I wouldn't be very comfortable living with myself," he said.

Quinlan failed to gain the Democratic nomination in the primary election, and party leaders endorsed Melfi in a Sunday night meeting.

"I am very comfortable running as the endorsed Working Families candidate," Quinlan said, describing the party in a statement as a "grass-roots, community and labor-based party with chapters throughout the state."

He said he has appointed two Republicans and two Democrats to share campaign chairmen duties and rally voters from both parties, pointing out that it is his ambition to represent all the city's residents.

Of his poor showing in the primary election, Quinlan said, "I was disappointed with myself."

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