JAMESTOWN – The mayor-elect of Jamestown has gone on record saying the annexation of a piece city-owned property in the Town of Ellicott is not something he would immediately pursue if serving as mayor, saying he doesn’t believe it would foster good will with municipal neighbors.
Local attorney and Democrat Eddie Sundquist said during his election campaign that the annexation has become a contentious issue between Jamestown and its neighbors, adding that he would have preferred to sit across the table from those neighbors before taking legal action to pursue annexation. However, he also said that if the issue is put into play before he is sworn in, he would have little ability to stop it.
“The biggest thing I’m going to have trouble with is that, most likely, the current city council and the board of public utilities will take some action on the [annexation] before the end of the year and as new mayor, I may be bound to that action,” Sundquist said. “For me, as someone who negotiates every single day as part of my job, I think we do need to start to negotiate before we decide to move into further litigation.”
Sundquist made his comments during a September 26 meet the candidates forum at the Robert H. Jackson Center and hosted by the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation. He eventually won election to be Jamestown’s next mayor earlier this month on Election Day, defeating opponents David Wilfong (R) and Andrew Liuzzo (Libertarian) and after current Mayor Sam Teresi announced he wouldn’t be serving a sixth consecutive term.
On Wednesday the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities voted to continue the annexation effort that started in January 2017. That initial effort culminated in August of this year with a decision from the State Appellate Division – Fourth Judicial Department in Rochester, which ruled against the city’s original petition to initiate a court review on the matter was untimely. As a result the city lost the case on a technicality but still had the option to proceed with another effort.
With the BPU’s action, the ball is now in the Jamestown City Council’s court and with two voting sessions remaining, the city council will likely vote to file for a petition of annexation before the end of this year. That vote would move the process forward and initiate a required joint public hearing. But any final annexation vote by the city will likely have to wait until the new year when Sundquist is also sworn in as mayor. That means Sundquist would have the ability to veto any final annexation approval by the city council. However, the city council could then have the option override the veto as long as it had a two-thirds majority vote – which would require a yes vote from at least six of the nine council members.
Of the nine council members who unanimously supported annexation when it was first approved by the city council in August 2017, six of those members (Brent Sheldon, Tony Dolce, Vickye James, Marie Carrubba, Tom Nelson and Kim Ecklund) would still be on the council in 2020.