Four years ago, when Jim Campinell was running for office for the first time, seeking to represent Glens Falls’ 1st Ward on the Common Council, we endorsed his opponent, because Campinell did not seem terribly interested in city issues. He was well-known in the ward, however, and seemed confident he would win, which he did.
Now, running for re-election, Campinell has educated himself on the issues. He has been an engaged and steady councilman and part of a group that has held office while the city experienced some significant improvements. Nonetheless, we are endorsing his opponent, Phillip Underwood, who is new to politics but brings positive energy and a useful background in contracting and business to the campaign.
Campinell’s argument is that the city has been doing well during the past four years, and he points to progress that has mostly been made downtown, such as new businesses moving in, the $10 million state revitalization grant and streetscape improvements along the Hudson Avenue corridor.
But we have to ask how much credit an individual council member can take for the progress that has been made downtown. Some projects, like the work on the corridor extending into downtown from Exit 18, were begun before the current board took office. Downtown, too, has been building toward a renaissance for more than a decade.
Meanwhile, some vexing problems remain, and those problems, such as high taxes and derelict housing, particularly afflict homeowners in the city’s neighborhoods. These were problems when Campinell took office, and little has been done about them over the past four years.
Underwood is a development manager for a landscape supply company, and he previously worked for 23 years as a contractor.
“I’m used to large budgets, helping contractors get their products on time, keeping them on their schedules,” he said.
His hands-on business management and contracting experience could be very useful on the Common Council, particularly in dealing with an issue he put at the top of his list — dealing with abandoned and deteriorating houses in the city’s neighborhoods.
Code enforcement needs to be stressed as a first step, he said. Campinell also mentioned the need for stiffer code enforcement, but to reiterate, that hasn’t gotten done over the past four years.
First Ward residents are concerned about public safety, Underwood said, and he opposes consolidation of the city police department with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. We urge him, if elected, to keep an open mind on the subject.
Campinell backed a police consolidation proposal that Mayor Jack Diamond took to the county, but which county supervisors rejected.
Campinell deserves credit for supporting, in the face of some opposition, the establishment of a permanent, year-round homeless shelter in the 1st Ward, run by the Open Door Mission. The city needs the shelter, and the 1st Ward is a good place for it.
Campinell is part of three Republicans and three Democrats who are running as part of a “unity ticket” for re-election to the Common Council, making the argument that they have worked well together and continuity would be good for the city.
Unanimity is not necessarily a strength in politics. We’d rather see candidates with fresh ideas and energy elected, who will bring a vigorous exchange of sometimes-competing ideas to the Common Council. Underwood has valuable, practical business experience and a passion for the job. We urge a vote for him in the city’s 1st Ward.