Tamarie Cataldo contends for a seat on City Council to become Councilor At-Large on behalf of the Democratic Party.
Cataldo, a co-founder of the Foundry Action Committee, an activist with the Geneva Women’s Assembly and owner of the New Hall Diner feels invigorated this election cycle to succeed.
“I’m really inspired mostly by the new term of council,” Cataldo said.
With “fresh voices and fresh minds” eventually populating seats throughout City Council, Cataldo predicts to see new real change and she wants to be a part of that conversation.
In 2017, Cataldo ran for County Supervisor and lost by one vote after a recount and to do this day, she still does not consider it a loss.
“I didn’t consider that a loss,” Cataldo said.
Despite her formal loss, she saw this shortcoming as an opportunity for personal growth.
“I feel definitely wiser and more prepared, more focused and self-reliant,” Cataldo stated.
If elected, Cataldo feels confident in working alongside anyone on behalf of the city and its best interests, even across party lines that do not bear weight to her, especially when living with a Republican partner.
“I can work anybody and I mean anybody. As far as party lines, I mean, I live with a Republican. I argue my politics with him every day, but we do it with love and understanding,” Cataldo said.
She also mentioned that her background as a former bartender and professional in the food service industry has caused her to “stand and be a captive audience to so many opinions.”
Cataldo also believes that she can communicate and hold respect for all, regardless of political affiliation and possibly even change the minds of those who differ from her through persuasive means.
“My personality lets people know that I’m listening to them; and I feel like I can change a lot of minds too,” Cataldo stated.
As a horticulture studies graduate from Finger Lakes Community College, Cataldo passionately cares about protecting Seneca Lake as a top priority and issue for City Council to continually carry.
“Seneca Lake is life. It’s our life. It’s our way of life and I believe that we should be protecting it at all costs,” Cataldo said.
She is particularly concerned with preserving the lake’s watershed and water treatment plants as well as stormwater management, which creates an “anerobic situation” throughout the lake.
“I think we need to be very mindful about how much stress we’re putting on our water treatment plant,” Cataldo stated.
Cataldo also sees a “serious housing shortage” in Geneva and empty homes that she wishes to fill with the city’s residents.
“There’s a lot of empty homes. I think there’s a lot of families that would like to be in those empty homes,” she stated.
Cataldo tied the issues of city’s food desert into enhancing regular public bus routing, which can expand employment opportunities for residents while lowering costs for residents that must pay for taxi services to purchase groceries on a weekly basis.
Her plan of action seeks to start negotiations with regional transportation services to secure more reliable and routine bus routes, much like how she recalled growing-up in Rome, New York.
In addition to expanding public transportation services in the city, Cataldo awaits for some store to set-up shop in either Ward 5 or 6, which are both situated at the epicenter of the food desert in Geneva.
“We keep giving away all these PILOT programs to industries around here, but why don’t we give a PILOT program to a store to come in that down there and make sure that the people down there have nutritious food and produce,” Cataldo said.
Cataldo also mentioned that the community garden program that was on this year’s chopping-block for the city budget was originally created as a form of reparations for the residents of the foundry zone.
“And I actually helped build those community gardens with the raised beds,” Cataldo stated.
Weighing-in on the community gardening program funding situation, Cataldo admits that she cannot make any sense of the decision.
“You know, $3,500 is peanuts to a lot of people but it can mean a lot for a service like that,” she added.
After thoroughly reading the city’s Comprehensive Plan, Cataldo candidly calls this model for Geneva as “the aggregated will of the people,” which outlines how the city should move forward to achieve a multi-approached path for economic development through themes: connected, equitable, beautiful and prosperous.
Her first tenet of connected takes many shapes: basic communication and education, regular and reliable transportation, but also increased participation in city government among residents.
“There needs to be an increase in citizen participation in government,” Cataldo said.
For her second goal, equitable means “a city budget that is fair and unbiased as to which organizations that provide a service or purpose to the public” and “how they delegate that money.”
Another aspect under the mantra of equitable rests in advocating to develop a “first-time homebuyers program in Geneva for Genevans” that would fill occupancy within vacant households scattered throughout the city.
“Instead of selling it somebody who’s going to flip it and make huge payout, let’s get our Geneva families in there,” Cataldo said.
Once residents are less worried about getting to work and buying groceries, Cataldo claims that they can then beautify the city and their properties.
“Things start to look beautiful. People are planting gardens. They are taking pride of ownership,” Cataldo stated.
From beautifying the city, Cataldo sees a prosperous future and calls for the city’s leaders to remain ever-vigilant to protect their new way of life.
“We just have to be vigilant to maintain this working system,” Cataldo
While campaigning, Cataldo has heard residents characterize Geneva as “one big family” and now she asks for citizens to come together, if elected.
“So, you know, let’s be a family and get the city working for everybody,” she said.
“Genevans are my people, number one; but I feel like I would make a really good compliment to this council,” Cataldo said.
Cataldo cares about the future of her community and making decisions on behalf of her fellow 13,500 residents is something that she cannot ever casually condone.
In the closing moments, Cataldo shared that she adopted her campaign as “actually we can.”
She pondered whether Geneva shall be classified as a lake town, college town or health living space for regular residents, but she insists on why Geneva cannot simultaneously be all of these defining characteristics.
“And actually, we can do it all. We can have it all. We can be everything. Why can’t we? We just have to have the right things in place and we can go from there and I believe in this city and I believe that we can have it all,” Cataldo concluded.
Listen to the full-conversation with Cataldo 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)
– Burrall for focuses on rebuilding in city council campaign (Ward 1)
– Bill Pealer Jr. takes life of experiences on campaign trail (Ward 2)
– Regan brings non-profit experience to the campaign trail (Ward 3)
– Cass brings past council, mayoral experience to campaign (Ward 3)
– Camera focuses on bringing creativity, experience to Geneva City Council (Ward 4)
– Evelyn Buisch looks to return City to former glory (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)
– Anthony Noone looks to bring experience, energy to Geneva City Council (At-Large)
– Cataldo contends for seat on Geneva City Council (At-Large)
Editor’s Note: Special thanks to WEOS and WHWS Station Manager Greg Cotterill for sharing Geneva Candidate Snapshots with FingerLakes1.com.
– 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].