Roberts bows out of congressional race


Staff Reporter
The race for the Democratic nomination in the 24th Congressional District that once included as many as four candidates has now been whittled down to one.
Saying he wanted to give Democrats the best possible chance to gain control of Congress, public health scientist and Cincinnatus resident Les Roberts withdrew from the race Wednesday.
The departure leaves Oneida County District Attorney Michael Arcuri as the presumptive Democratic nominee.
“I got into the race with one goal: to help Democrats win the House,” Roberts said Wednesday at his campaign headquarters in downtown Cortland. “I’m no longer contributing to that process, so it’s time to pull out.”
Roberts said that in meeting with national Democrats, it became clear that there was significant support for Arcuri, who was in attendance at Roberts’ press conference, as the candidate with the best chance to win the seat vacated by the retiring Sherwood Boehlert (R-New Hartford).
As of March 31, Roberts’ campaign had raised $156,018, about $40,000 less than Arcuri, according Federal Election Commission filings.
“The campaign was going strong, but it was going stronger for Michael Arcuri, as he’s been galvanizing support with unions and other key organizations,” said Roberts, who endorsed Arcuri after stepping out of the race. “There were a lot of things coalescing around his candidacy, so I had to ask myself, ‘Why create dissent?’”
Arcuri said he was grateful for Roberts’ support, and anxious to move forward toward a general election against either State Sen. Ray Meier or former Seneca Falls mayor Brad Jones, who are vying for the Republican nomination.
With no Democratic primary on the horizon, Arcuri said that the door would be opened for the endorsements of elected officials who may have previously been reluctant to choose sides. Also, the roughly $200,000 to $300,000 his campaign had been planning on spending on the primary could be redirected, Arcuri said.
“We’ll still spend that money, but now we can direct it more to the general election as opposed to the primary,” he said.
Both Roberts and Arcuri Wednesday stressed the need for change in Washington as their primary motivations throughout the campaign.
“It has remained my No. 1 priority to put a check on this out of control White House and Republican-led Congress,” said Roberts, who pointed to the war in Iraq, the increase of the national debt — which has risen from $5.6 trillion in 1999 to $8.4 trillion today — and the controversial Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.
Roberts said that he would continue to be involved in the Democratic Party, and that he would help in any way he could with Arcuri’s candidacy.
“I’ve met so many wonderful people, and encountered so many problems throughout this process, I have no choice but to stay involved,” Roberts said.
If he learned one thing from his campaign, Roberts said, it’s that the ideals of the Democratic Party of Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Republican Party of Dwight D. Eisenhower are alive and well in local governments across New York.
“You look at the mess in Washington and you forget that there’s dedicated service oriented politicians on the village and town level, people who have really revitalized my faith in the political process,” Roberts said. “There are no Jack Abramoff’s in Cortland County.”


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C'ville backs Brockway grant

Staff Reporter

The Town Board on Wednesday decided to support a grant application for the Brockway Trucks Museum, agreeing to front $60,000 that would eventually be reimbursed by the state.
The board expressed concern that funding the grant application would require drawing from town surpluses, but ultimately agreed that the Brockway project was too important.
The Local Waterfront Revitalization Grant being sought by the Brockway museum is a matching grant of $60,000 that would go toward architectural and engineering fees for the project.
The board had agreed to take the matter under consideration at its May 3 meeting after Bill Breidinger, who is in charge of fundraising for the Brockway museum, requested that the town consider signing the grant.



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County Planning Board supports one project, rejects another

Staff Reporter

One new city business took a step forward Wednesday night, while another took a step back.
The Cortland County Planning Board recommended the city Planning Commission approve a use variance for the former Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall church on the south side of Wheeler Avenue.
The applicant, Robert O’Gorman, is proposing to use the 1,260-square-foot building as an office to support trade association activities for the Automotive Lift Institute Inc. The business, which currently employs two people, involves design and distribution of publications and brochures about the safe operation of automotive lifts.
Planning Board member and city Alderwoman Val VanGorder (R-1st Ward) was not at the meeting, but sent a letter in support of O’Gorman’s request. VanGorder’s letter states that she walked door to door with O’Gorman through the neighborhood explaining the project.



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Paycheck worth a summer of fun

Staff Reporter

It’s about that time.
With warm weather right around the corner, college and high school students everywhere in the county are scrambling to snag the perfect summer job.
Misty Bakker has already locked down the summer spot as head lifeguard at the Wickwire Pool in Suggett Park.
Bakker, 22, was hired through the Cortland Youth Bureau and has worked at the pool for six summers.
“You get to be outside and the kids are a lot of fun,” Bakker said. “You’re only young once, so you should have a good time.”
Bakker is only one of at least 200 people the Youth Bureau hires to work seasonal jobs, according to Director John McNerney. About 80 percent of those positions have been filled, but the bureau is still hiring for the rest, he said.


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