GLENS FALLS — Common Council members Bill Collins and James Clark on Tuesday announced bids to be the city’s next mayor and councilman-at-large, respectively, just one day after Mayor Dan Hall and Jane Reid announced they would not be seeking reelection.
A lifelong resident of Glens Falls, Collins has represented the city’s Second Ward since 2014 and served on the city’s Board of Public Safety in the three years prior to being elected to the Common Council.
Collins said he has for months been weighing a decision about running for mayor after reaching his term limits in the Second Ward, but held off until Hall decided if he would seek a second term. The pair are close friends and ran together on the “unity ticket” in 2017.
“For the last few months, I’ve been thinking if Dan (Hall) doesn’t run, should I throw my hat into the ring?” he said.
Hall on Monday announced he would not be seeking a second term in order to spend more time with family. Councilwoman-at-Large Jane Reid also announced she would not be seeking reelection.
The pair ran as part of the city’s “unity ticket” in 2017.
Collins, a Democrat, said the decision to run for mayor wasn’t easy given his full-time commitments, but said the city has been heading in the right direction and believes he has the knowledge and experience to keep the momentum going, even as the city continues to deal with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Collins has spent 18 years working as a state director of sports programs for Special Olympics New York and has operated Celtic Attitude Clothing, a Glens Falls-based screen printing business, for the last 16 years.
“It’s a big decision. What you see today is my final decision. If I can win this election, I would be honored to serve the people of Glens Falls,” he said.
Last year, the Common Council approved a budget that cut city spending and raised taxes, but maintained all services.
Collins said navigating the coronavirus crisis will be difficult, but he believes the city has done a good job in following all the recommended guidelines and supporting local businesses and area nonprofits that many have come to rely on.
He’s hopeful that life before the coronavirus can be “back to normal” by the fall.
“We need to keep people safe, get people vaccinated and support businesses to keep them open until life can be back to normal,” Collins said.
But the city must continue to forge ahead in building relationships with the state and private partnerships in order to attract new economic opportunities and residents seeking to move to Glens Falls, Collins said.
He plans to push an agenda that would expand the city’s green infrastructure and recreational attractions, particularly Haviland Cove on the Hudson River, which he said has unlimited potential and is currently underutilized.
Collins currently chairs the city’s sustainability committee and oversaw efforts to bring more energy-efficient LED streetlights to the city, which will include smart street sensors that will help the city address park concerns.
The lights are expected to be installed by the spring.
Collins said the city should also hire a new economic development director following the untimely death of Ed Bartholomew last year. Bartholomew oversaw the city’s various economic development agencies and is responsible for bringing millions in state funding to the city, including $10 million as part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
“We need to hire a new economic director in Glens Falls,” he said. “We are struggling. Ed Bartholomew was such a great leader. He wore so many hats and had so many contacts in Albany.”
Clark, who has also reached his term limits as Fifth Ward councilman, announced his bid for councilman-at-large seat around the same time Collins made his mayoral bid public.
If elected, he would succeed Reid, who’s held the position for the last four years.
Clark said he’s not running on a ticket with Collins, but said the two are good friends and work well together.
The city’s mayor and councilperson-at-large have historically worked closely together.
Clark, a registered Republican, said running for the at-large position was a natural transition from his current role. He believes his experience on the Common Council sets him apart from others and will allow him to hit the ground running.
Prior to being elected to represent the Fifth Ward, Clark served as the assistant mayor during the Vincent DeSantis and Robert Regan administrations. He currently works for the state’s Unified Court System.
“We need some continuity going forward and knowledge of what’s been going on,” Clark said. “I certainly felt that was important to keep going for the city’s future and keep it moving forward.”
Like Collins, Clark said he believes the city has been heading in right direction. He believes that public-private partnerships will be key to keeping the momentum going.
The city, Clark said, must continue to form partnerships with neighboring communities like Queensbury in order to expand recreational opportunities for residents and expand tourism.
He also said the city must continue to expand opportunities for housing and business along Warren, Mohican, South and Broad streets by partnering with developers willing to invest in the city.
“We need to be cheerleaders for this city. We need to show them that this is a place where people want to come and live and recreate in and work in,” Clark said.
With Collins’ and Clark’s announcements, November’s ballot is beginning to take shape, though several vacancies remain.
First Ward Councilman Jim Campinell and Fourth Ward Councilman Scott Endieveri have reached their term limits and announced they would not be seeking a position in city government going forward.
No one has announced plans to run for either seat. Clark’s Fifth Ward seat is also wide open.
Meanwhile, Diana Palmer, who represents the city’s Third Ward, announced her intentions to seek reelection, while Robin Barkenhagen, a local business owner and president of the Glens Falls Collaborative, announced he would be being running for the Second Ward seat vacated by Collins.
Chad Arnold is a reporter for The Post-Star covering the city of Glens Falls and the town and village of Lake George and Washington County government. Follow him on Twitter @ChadGArnold.