Gov. Andrew Cuomo endorsed Democrat Tom Gillen for the mayor of Oswego Monday.
“Tom Gillen has the vision and management experience to lead the economic revitalization of the city of Oswego,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I am pleased to endorse Tom Gillen for mayor of Oswego.”
Gillen was raised in Oswego and has worked in business management with Apple Inc., and AT&T for three decades.
“I am honored to receive the endorsement of Governor Andrew Cuomo,” Gillen said in a statement. “I look forward to a strong and productive relationship between the city of Oswego and the governor’s office. With a steady focus and a little good-old-fashioned hard work, New York and Oswego’s best days are still ahead of us.”
He said he believes that while Oswego was once a factory city, it does not need to stay that way. Gillen stressed knowledge-based industries are one of the tools for economic revitalization since the jobs are high paying and can be done from remote locations, like Oswego.
Jobs like that would improve population retention, Gillen said, because many young people are uninterested in moving to Oswego, or are forced to leave because there are few jobs.
He also wants to influence people to shop locally rather than going to Syracuse or Clay.
“People need to support local businesses,” Gillen said. “People are trying to make a living in this town and if you don’t support them, you are hurting the city more and more.”
Gov. Cuomo agreed; “Tom understands the need to focus on Oswego’s strengths and support its local small businesses and existing industries,” he said.
“He is a leader who knows we must work together and build consensus for the common good on the complex issues Oswego faces,” Cuomo said.
Gillen said that he thinks Oswego is a vibrant and dynamic city, but it is growing old. He said he would also work to close what he feels is a gap between the college and the community.
“We’re an old city that is growing older every day and then we got a youth-based group in the college and there’s a real dichotomy between the two. And I don’t know how to bridge that yet,” he said.
City hall has its own interests, Gillen said. He said he wants to hold open office hours for people to discuss problems.
“I think city hall has served their own interest first and collectively there’s a group of special interest, they get served first.”
Mari Villa contributed to this article.