Two-term City Councilor Ken Camera is seeking re-election this November to Ward 4 on behalf of the Democratic Party in Geneva.
After graduating from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 1972, Camera got involved in community activism and local politics.
“I was always interested in what city government was doing,” Camera said.
Eventually, he threw himself into a few races for city council, once as a write-in candidate and another time with the Republican Party until he won his first election as a Democrat eight-years ago.
Since then, Camera has served two-terms, focusing his fascination on developing projects to enhance the City of Geneva; and he hopes to continue exploring new projects, if reelected.
“The general fund hurts because you’re collecting that money from 47-percent from the taxable property and we have a lot of things to do. I think the city is running fairly lean, so I don’t think there’s a lot more cuts we can do. I think we got to grow ourselves out of this problem and there are opportunities to do that,” Camera shared.
The former American Legion Geneva Winnek Post #360 property on Lochland Road is merely one piece to solve the tax-base puzzle in Geneva.
Camera also admits that he was very vocal about fast-tracking the rezoning process for the city within six-months, instead of waiting an anticipated two-year period to eventually get the land on their tax roll.
“I just feel like we didn’t go after this as fast as we should’ve, and so that’s sort of an area of contention between myself and the rest of council,” Camera stated.
But more importantly, Camera believes that the Legion property is not the sole plot of land that can benefit the city in this particular way, but progress has been stunted in-part by placing blame on city management who “hasn’t been as entrepreneurial and aggressive.”
In addition to taxation, Camera firmly backs Hobart and William Smith Colleges despite its vast control of land.
“I believe the Colleges are paying their way,” Camera added.
Drawing a comparison, he mentions that the Geneva General Hospital provides a PILOT in the amount of $40,000 annually.
“I do believe that the problem can be solved but not by asking the Colleges for more money, it’s by asking people who don’t pay anything to pay something; and one of them is the town of Geneva,” Camera stated.
Camera explains that some form of payment or compensation should be provided to account for the costs accrued by the City of Geneva for offering municipal services to town residents.
Transforming Bicentennial Park into a second festival commons is yet another project on Camera’s proverbial plate.
“Even though its green and it’s a fountain, it’s hardly ever used and it is a key crossroads to the city,” Camera said.
Camera calls the space a “much more natural setting for a farmer’s market” and mentions that an estimated 11,000 vehicles drive along 5&20 every day, which offers greater visibility to the park as a potential venue for future community events and festivities.
However, his greatest goal for Geneva addresses accessibility to the lakefront, particularly for Ward 6.
“If I can push a button, it would be to move the railroad,” Camera said.
The railroad storage essentially blocks the neighborhoods of Ward 6 from safely accessing the lakefront.
“There are residents in the sixth ward who walk across the tracks and I know that the Finger Lakes Railroad doesn’t like it because it’s a liability for them,” Camera stated.
He believes that it is the responsibility of city government to assume the leadership role needed to guide this resolution and Camera intends on bringing this issue to the forefront for residents, if reelected to office.
“The basis of my candidacy has been from the get-go is it’s our job as legislatures to create fact-sets on which we base our decisions,” Camera said.
Sticking to the facts, Camera drafts each of his projects in written-form and conducts thorough research before bringing his ideas to City Council and the greater public forum for consideration and criticism.
“And nobody’s perfect and I’ve admitted enough mistakes publicly and survived so I don’t see what the problem is, but some people really get concerned about that and it’s just, I don’t think you can do as good of a job as a legislature if you aren’t willing to admit that maybe you miscalculated something or didn’t understand the whole issue or move forward without all of the facts,” he concluded.
Listen to the full-conversation with Camera below:
More from ‘Candidate Snapshot’ series exclusively on FingerLakes1.com:
– Valentino brings experience from City Council to Mayor’s race (Mayor)
– Pitifer takes life journey onto Geneva mayoral campaign trail (Mayor)
– Gomez vows to fight for residents as campaign continues (Ward 1)
– Camera focuses on bringing creativity, experience to Geneva City Council (Ward 4)
– Salamendra targets change through more than activism (Ward 5)
– Bryan Housel brings public safety background to campaign for Geneva City Council (Ward 5)
– Pruett takes independent approach to Geneva City Council race (Ward 6)
– Juanita Aikens looks to bring better representation to Geneva City Hall (Ward 6)
Editor’s Note: Special thanks to WEOS and WHWS Station Manager Greg Cotterill for sharing Geneva Candidate Snapshots with FingerLakes1.com.
– Reporting & Photos by Gabriel Pietrorazio
An undergraduate student at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Pietrorazio has written for the Town Times of Watertown, Connecticut and Finger Lakes Times in Geneva, New York. He’s currently a reporter for FL1 News, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.