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Johnson Elected New Oswego Village President

Apr 07, 2015 11:37PM ● By Steven Jack

Gail Johnson

Either way the election for Oswego Village President turned out Tuesday night, the town was going to have a new face at the helm. 

Long-time resident and village trustee Gail Johnson is that new face. 

In a race that was tight all night long, Johnson was able to defeat fellow trustee Tony Giles by 189 votes. Unofficial totals show Johnson with 1,867 votes and Giles with 1,678. Johnson said the election results, which also saw her slate of trustee candidates elected to the Village Board, brings "new hope" to the village.

"We are well aware of the work that is ahead of us," Johnson said. "But this is a huge step forward for Oswego."

Johnson said two of her biggest priorities will be to help the continued redevelopment of the downtown and strengthen the retail corridor along Route 34. Finding ways to pay for infrastructure improvements in town will be another issue that will require almost immediate attention.

Trustees have twice in the past year defeated attempts to increase both the village's sales and gasoline tax to help pay for at least $2 million in needed street repairs. 

"I am a resident here. My goal is not to come in and raise taxes on our residents," Johnson said. "My goal is to find out how we can do what we need to do to improve our village. ... It's just irresponsible not to look at all the ways to be able to achieve that."

For his part, Giles, who has served two terms as a trustee, said the close vote does not give Johnson a mandate.

"It was a really close vote all night long," he said. "If this was a victory of several hundred votes, I'd say that was a mandate for the Johnson plan, but I don't think that's the case."

Giles also said he worries about what he called "unchecked development" and its impact on the village. 

"I fear that the Alexander Lumber development which to this point the developer hasn't asked for any incentives, will now result in a handout," he said.

Johnson said the village will look at many ways to attract new development to town, including economic incentives.

"Oswego is open for business," she said. "We will be looking to bring development to the village that are win-wins." 

Village trustee race

Along with Johnson, her slate of trustee candidates also were elected. Unofficial totals show Karin McCarthy-Lange with the most votes with 1,834, Ryan Kauffman with 1,759 and Joe West 1,646. 

Candidates Rasma Motykowski, Diane Selmer and James Marter, who also ran together, received 1,254, 1,479 and 787 respectively. Candidate Brian Thomas received 608 votes.