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Fulton inaugurating first new mayor in 12 years

Payne Horning
Deana Michaels is taking over as Fulton's new executive.

Before winning office in November, Deana Michaels had served on a couple of city hall committees and spent more than a decade at Pathfinder Bank's Fulton branch, but she had never held public office. It's one of the reasons why she says her first move as mayor will be to complete a full audit of how the city and its individual departments run before making major changes.

"The last thing I want to do is come in, if you will,  like a bull in a china shop and just take over; that's not how I operate and that's not my leadership style," Michaels said. "Why it's so important to come in and fully understand the operations and do the full analysis is so that we can be respectful and honor what has been done but learn from what has been done."

Michaels says it's a good time for a full review given that Fulton is what she calls hitting the reset button. Michaels is succeeding Ron Woodward, who held the mayor's office for the past 12 years. Moreover, three new common councilors, a new police chief, and a new fire department chief are all taking office in 2020 and several of the city's contracts are up for renewal.

"It's an exciting time," She said. "We have all eyes on Fulton, which I think is long overdue." 

In addition to those changes, Fulton is in the midst of deciding which projects to spend the $10 million the city won from New York state's Downtown Revitalization competition. And the state and city are partnering on further redeveloping the former Nestle site into new commercial space and a manufacturing start-up facility.

"Redeveloping the Nestle site is huge," Woodward said. "I think she’s [Michaels] very qualified and she will do a good job."

Michaels says her administration does plan to capitalize on these opportunities and make way for more by operating the city in a more streamlined and business-friendly manner.

"Our goal is to get Fulton back on the map and with these new funding opportunities from our partners in New York state, we are going to be able to do that and as a result of this grant funding we have developers looking to invest in our city," Michaels said. 

In addition to focusing on economic development, Michaels says her top priorities in office will be neighborhood safety and infrastructure improvements. 

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.