Pharmaceutical industry expert John Pruett, a registered Independent is pursuing a seat on Geneva’s City Council to represent Ward 6 after being endorsed by the Republican Party.
Pruett, president of Oleta Holdings, LLC shared that he was inspired to jump headfirst into local politics after Jackie Augustine published a column in the Finger Lakes Times, which essentially was “asking people to step forward” for the race in Ward 6.
“There seemed to be no one else that was interested at that time,” Pruett said.
In his eyes, although Geneva has been rapidly growing, Ward 6 has been left behind amid Downtown Geneva’s revitalization and Pruett desires to prioritize the needs of his ward constituents.
“I have to say over the past ten-years there’s been a lot of progress but most of it has been downtown. I haven’t seen really much improvement in the sixth ward or some other wards and part of what I hope to do is to support the comprehensive plan which is primarily a strategic plan with tactical, in other words, action steps that can get some of those things done to a greater degree,” Pruett said.
Pruett cites the city’s declining population trend from 17,000 residents during the 1950s to 12,732 by 2018 as the burden of proof for his claims.
“The town is growing. The county is growing. The state is growing and the country is growing, we’re not,” Pruett added.
If elected, he wishes to adapt the seven issues of interest that were cited in a study started in 2008 and sponsored by City Council named “Neighborhoods.”
The most important issues that Pruett seeks to address encompasses municipal code and enforcement, the mitigation of taxes and enhancement of relationships between civilians and city personnel.
He is even interested in starting his own commercial improvement district specifically for Ward 6, much like the Business Improvement District that issues $45,000 annually to downtown businesses.
A way to mitigate taxes for Ward 6 for Pruett seems to place a moratorium on taxes in his ward to account for any tax hikes.
“But I’d like to see the sixth ward have at least a moratorium on those since we’re disadvantaged already in both taxes and terms of economic development,” Pruett said.
Pruett shared that his opposition, Democratic Party Ward 6 candidate Juanita Aikens lives six doors down from him and commends her for opening conversations about policing community relations through funding the Ontario County Justice Coalition, but has since seen any changes.
Pruett instead offers his own solutions and he affirms that anyone who works for the City of Geneva should either live here or relocate.
“If you’re on the city’s payroll, you should live within the city,” he said.
Some city departments are also large according to Pruett, including the Geneva Police Department who has 47 officers on the force, which he believes to be one of the most-staffed in comparison to other local departments.
Pruett also mentioned that the police department has difficulty in recruiting and he hopes to subsidize educational processes to increase greater access to future recruits and candidates from community colleges for police academy programs.
But most of all, he intends on mandating a 25-percent quota for minority representation among city employees along racial and religious differences.
“I think Juanita has done a wonderful job. She has a very keen focus. I think the difference between she and I is I have that focus but I have several others as well. I’m not unofficial,” Pruett said.
Pruett, who is retired believes that Aikens cannot dedicate as much time to Ward 6 in comparison to himself while balancing the Ontario County Justice Coalition and other responsibilities.
“I can devote more time to City Council than my opponent could,” Pruett said.
“There’s seven issues here. There’s six others that we need to focus on as well,” he added.
Although Pruett has been criticized as less involved with the ward, he considers himself a child of the ward.
“I am a child of the ward. I came out just as underprivileged as anybody else who might live there. I have done pretty well for myself. I want to return to make a contribution,” Pruett concluded.
You may listen to the full conversation with Pruett below:
Editor’s Note: Special thanks to WEOS and WHWS Station Manager Greg Cotterill for sharing Geneva Candidate Snapshots with FingerLakes1.com.
More from ‘Candidate Snapshot’ series exclusively on FingerLakes1.com:
– Juanita Aikens looks to bring better representation to Geneva City Hall (Ward 6)
– Bryan Housel brings public safety background to campaign for Geneva City Council (Ward 5)
– Pitifer takes life journey onto Geneva mayoral campaign trail (Mayor)
– Salamendra targets change through more than activism (Ward 5)
– 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 [email protected].