A New Era: Innovation City

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Eddie Sundquist, 25th Mayor of the City of Jamestown.
Eddie Sundquist, 25th Mayor of the City of Jamestown.

Jamestown has a new Mayor and a new outlook. Meet Mayor Eddie Sundquist. The first thing you notice is his smile and openness. He was the Salutatorian of the Jamestown High School class of 2007.

He has gone on to earn two master’s degrees in education and law. He has taught middle school science in Philadelphia, being named Educator of the Year in 2011. After receiving his Juris Doctorate in 2015 from the University at Buffalo School of Law, he returned to Jamestown to practice law with Lewis & Lewis, P.C.  He focuses on advocating for children, injured workers, and families. While all that is now in the past, it is a firm foundation for Mayor Sundquist, or Eddie as he likes to be called, to begin a new era in Jamestown City governance. “I couldn’t just sit, I had to step up to help make the City I love better,” said Mayor Sundquist.

It’s Real

He has spent the past year listening to Jamestown residents. He put his ideas to the test and won the Mayoral seat. Mayor Sundquist’s transition team was led by local businessman Tom Benson, Managing Director of Vineyard Group, LLC. Benson said, “The teams are a great mix of people who are eager to step up and volunteer their time to help the City.” The teams were made up of a variety of local professionals. Sundquist said the team will be focused on his top priorities for 2020; creating a City for the future, strengthening housing Initiatives & supporting our neighborhoods, and tackling the City’s financial burdens. “Nobody on the team was asked their political leanings,” said Benson, “we are reviewing and evaluating all areas of the government. All is subject to change and improvement. We are looking for the best people and the best way to improve the City.” Benson went on to add, “It’s real. Lots of different people are investing their personal capital in this process. We all need to embrace this change and throw away all that is negative. We all need to buy in to this process for the betterment of the City.” The transition team has given Sundquist a diverse slate of names. It includes people from all walks of life, ages, and backgrounds. They will fill the commissions, boards and department head openings in the new administration.

When asked about the possible issues with a Republican City Council and a Democratic Mayoral office, Benson said, “we are all working for a better Jamestown. My hope is the politics won’t matter. There isn’t room for a divide. We need open communication and to build trust.”

The First 100 Days

Eddie Sundquist for Mayor
Eddie Sundquist for Mayor

When asked what he plans for the first 100 days benchmark, Sundquist answered, “Nothing. Meaning I am listening to the City employees that know what works and have suggestions for improvements. I am working on understanding the processes, then I will be able to see where we can achieve efficiencies to better serve the residents of Jamestown.” Sundquist loves finding new ways to do things that improve the procedures and the outcome. He said, “I want to change the way the City works.” To do that he will be talking with City employees, residents and tourists to find out what they think about the City.

Mayor Sundquist sees his management style as that of a train conductor. “I see myself guiding and coordinating the very capable department heads and employees. We are a team. I encourage the City employees and managers to openly communicate with me and between themselves to make the City stronger.”

Listening First, Actions Second

The four pre-inaugural public sessions were well attended. The four sessions drew approximately 250 attendees that gave many suggestions and raised good questions. The City’s drug problems, housing needs and tax burden were main topics of discussion. Mayor Sundquist believes strengthening the relationship between the community and the safety officers, fire and police, during both working and non-working hours will help curb the safety issues. Affordable housing is a great need in the city, along with dealing with landlords, abandoned properties, lead and safe housing. Mayor Sundquist is looking at creating a housing advisory committee comprised of experts engaged in solving the many issues connected to the housing puzzle. By pooling knowledge, building partnerships and collaboration, he hopes to improve the housing issue. The heavy tax burden is not unique to Jamestown. Mayor Sundquist is looking at tax and fee models used by other New York State cities, along with consulting with local experts, to find a better way for Jamestown’s landowners.

Jamestown is a City of Innovation

Mayor Sundquist is excited about the positive culture shift he is seeing in Jamestown. He wants to work with the City employees to set the vision for the City. He sees Jamestown on the cusp of being a City of innovation. “There are goldmines of opportunity in Jamestown. We will test ideas, if some fail, that is OK. We still learn how to make it better. We want to build on the relationship between technology and our everyday lives to make things more efficient and productive. For example, a small thing such as putting sensors in trash bins that will send a message to the DPW workers that the bin is empty. Then they can do something else instead of wasting time on an empty trash bin. There are many ways we can embrace technology, from trash bins to smarter LED lighting installations.”

“Jamestown has seen a growth in remote workers employed by west coast companies,” Sundquist added, “they are moving here because it is affordable. I would like to build on that.” One can tell he has many ideas. It will be interesting to watch this young Mayor’s path unfold as he builds his administration and together, they build Jamestown’s future.

Mayor Sundquist’s List of Appointees and Staff
The names below were submitted to the City Council for approval.
They will be reviewed and possibly approved at the January Council Meeting.

DEPARTMENT HEADS

  • City Clerk/Treasurer – Rudi Analora
  • Corporation Counsel/HR – Elliot Raimondo
  • Comptroller – Joe Bellitto*
  • Public Works – Jeff Lehman*
  • Parks, Rec, Conservation – Jeff Lehman**
  • Development – Crystal Surdyk**

BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS

  • Board of Public Utilities – Gregory Anderson, Lana Huston, Kenneth Mark, Grant Olson (city council), Marie Carrubba* (city council)
  • Zoning Board of Appeals – Timothy Smeal, Stephen Sorg, Ellen DiTonto*
  • Planning Commission – Michael Laurin
  • Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency – Gregory Noon
  • Jamestown Local Development Corporation – Peter Schiera, Margaret Kaltenmeier, Tom Nelson* (city council)
  • Board of Assessment Review – Heather Fagan, Debra Loder-Clark
  • Parks, Recreation and Conservation – Adam Irgang, John Bauer*, Victoria James (city council), Kim Ecklund* (city council)
  • Riverfront Management Council – Leigh Rovegno, Russ Diethrick*, John Bauer*, David Anderson*, Anton Leenders*, Jennifer Lumia*, Brent Sheldon (city council)
  • Veterans Memorial Commission – Scott Pentheny, Joshua Miller, George Spitale*, Daniel Kell*
  • Board of Electrical Examiners – Andrew Nickerson, Steven Nowell*
  • Marriage Officer – Camille Krawczyk, Greg Rabb*, Paul Whitford*

*Notes Reappointment
**Notes Previously held position in an acting capacity