Barlow claims progress halfway to 100-day mark
Oswego's new mayor says he is well on the way to achieving reforms he targeted for his first 100 days. Halfway there, Mayor Billy Barlow is celebrating what he calls a new energy at city hall. He has opened new positions in the code enforcement department, a new city website is under development and the city's community development department is currently undergoing a complete overhaul.
"My approach up to this point has been let's get our house in order before we start trying to attract people when we don't have our act together," Barlow said.
Barlow is also developing a capital plan to prioritize and pay for long-overdue infrastructure improvements to city buildings.
"Perhaps the most surprising thing to me when I took office was the neglect of city buildings," Barlow said. "I knew city hall was in bad shape. I knew the DPW (Department of Public Works) garage was in bad shape, but literally every building that the city owns is in bad shape."
And he's working on securing grant money that could ease the financial burden of Oswego's costly sewer and water repairs, which is mandated by the state and federal government.
But, Oswego County Democratic Chairman Mike Kunzwiler said Barlow has focused more on his campaign supporters than his campaign promises. The mayor helped Step One Creative Media win a contract to build the city's new $25,000 website, the same company that worked for him during the election. Barlow said he wanted to select a homegrown company to handle the project and Step One Creative does manage many area websites, but Kunzwiler said it's part of a larger theme of rewarding political allies. He notes that the city's new DPW Commissioner, Tom Kells, donated $5,000 to Barlow's mayoral campaign.
"You have one of your largest campaign contributors get a job?" Kunzwiler asked. "That’s just not positive. You got to get away from that. That mindset has got to stop."