Democrats endorse Halpin for mayor, council candidates

Mac Bullock
Staff writer
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Posted 3/20/19

The Rome Democratic Committee unveiled its endorsements for city candidates last week, throwing its support behind mayoral candidate David Halpin. No other Democrat had publicly signalled their …

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Democrats endorse Halpin for mayor, council candidates

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The Rome Democratic Committee unveiled its endorsements for city candidates last week, throwing its support behind mayoral candidate David Halpin.

No other Democrat had publicly signalled their intention to seek Rome’s highest office.

“I am pleased to announce that I have been selected by Rome’s Democratic Committee to represent our city in the November election,” Halpin said in a social media post last week. “I would like to thank the Democratic committee for their endorsement and I look forward to working with them and all council ward representatives.”

In his January candidacy announcement, Halpin said he would address “high property taxes,” “vacant homes,” and needed infrastructure repairs if elected, and said he felt there was a “lack of communication” with city residents from Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo’s administration.

Halpin, 62, is a general manager at Advance Auto Parts and has never sought or held elected office. He is a 1972 graduate of Rome Free Academy and has an associate’s degree in business administration and accounting from the Utica School of Commerce.

The party did not endorse a candidate for the city-wide office of Common Council President, presently held by Republican Stephanie Viscelli.

The Democrats endorsed incumbent First Ward Councilor Cam T. Tien for his re-election bid, as well. Tien, a teacher in the Rome City School District, was elected for the first time in 2017 after defeating then-Councilor Lori A. Trifeletti.

"I am honored to have received the endorsement of the Rome Democratic Committee," Tien said.

"The Democratic Party represents most of my values, however as a current city councilor I serve all my constituents regardless of their political party affiliation."

For the Second Ward, currently represented by Republican John B. Mortise, the party gave resident Shelly Gardner the nod.

Gardner did not respond to a request for comment on her candidacy. Gardner has appeared at several Common Council meetings to speak during the public comment portion, most recently on March 13, where she said councilors “have a duty to protect” after a pedestrian was struck by a motorist on a section of Erie Boulevard with no sidewalk in January.

Gardner said then that she had come to the council “a number of occasions,” and that “on at least three,” she “had adressed sidewalks.”

Incumbent Fourth Ward Councilor Ramona L. Smith was also endorsed by her party.

“I am pleased to have the Democratic Party endorsement for candidate for Fourth Ward city councilor,” Smith said. “I appreciate the Democratic Party having confidence in me. Their endorsement gives me the opportunity to be actively involved wth community members, businesses, and elected officials to help make Rome a community of choice.”

Smith was elected to her Fourth Ward seat six times before stepping down in 2015 to run for mayor. She ran for and won her old seat in 2017, defeating incumbent Sharie Fiorini Parsons.

Democrats have endorsed Rome resident Samantha Hallenbeck for the Fifth Ward seat, currently held by Republican Councilor Frank Anderson.

In a statement, Hallenbeck said she “want(s) to be an approachable candidate,” and that “Communication between myself and my fellow residents of the Fifth Ward is my top priority.” She added that ward residents can contact her via her campaign Facebook page.

Hallenbeck, 22, works with the Rome Main Streets Alliance and has previously interned at City Hall. She is a 2015 graduate of Rome Free Academy and has a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from SUNY Oswego.

Democrats did not endorse candidates in the Third, Sixth or Seventh Ward, all of which are respresented by Republican incumbents.

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