Rome Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo was re-elected to a second four-year term by an approximately 2-to-1 margin over challenger David Halpin, according to election results Tuesday night.
Izzo, a Republican, had 4,098 votes while Halpin had 2,027 with all precincts reporting, based on unofficial results.
“We’re feeling great,” Izzo, 58, said Tuesday at about 10:20 p.m. at the Savoy restaurant, where she had arrived at about 10 p.m. amid loud rounds of cheers and applause from supporters including several city employees. She said later about the election results that it was good to get “that kind of support from the community.”
Regarding her overwhelming victory, Izzo said her administration had “set out to get development moving in all four quadrants” of the city and “the numbers bear that out.” She said her administration wanted to get the city “back on track” in development both residentially and commercially. She feels it has “laid a great foundation” to bring “projects to fruition,” adding “we’ve worked extremely hard the last four years” in that regard.
Izzo said she also has believed strongly in seeking to “present the community in the best light” through not only development but also its overall appearance. She noted several people who have returned to Rome for events like family reunions, class reunions and weddings have told her they could “not believe how clean the city looked” and how different it is from three or four years ago. She said Rome overall “looks like a city on the move,” adding it is “a testament to all employees” of the city including “taking care of our infrastructure.”
Moving forward, Izzo said “we’ve got so much work ahead of us” including various development projects. She cited the ongoing Downtown Revitalization Incentive program, plus “a lot of construction” at Griffiss Business and Technology Park. Among other projects, she said redevelopment of the Woodhaven housing area is “at the top of the priority list.”
Izzo called it “a great night for Rome” regarding the election results, adding that the voting numbers show people have a “lot of confidence in us.”
Halpin, 62, meanwhile gathered with supporters at the Rail and Canal restaurant and remained upbeat despite the results.
“I feel good,” Halpin said. “We ran a clean campaign. I’ve met thousands of people and out of those thousands a lot of them I consider friends now. I’m going to continue to push on topics that we brought up because I think they’re important topics. I’m not going anywhere.”
“I’m going to push a lot of things we talked about,” Halpin added. “Like south Rome problems, flooding issues, Veterans Park and the lack of support there, the Centro bus hub. All these things I campaigned on. I’m still going to be active in the public eye. I’m going to be actively involved in the community and politics.”
Halpin expressed congratulations to Izzo upon her re-election, commenting “both of us ran clean campaigns.” He added “I wish the mayor well in the next four years.”
One of the key factors in his defeat, said Halpin, was that Izzo was an incumbent with four years in office while he was a “newcomer to the political arena.” But Halpin, who is a general manager at Advance Auto Parts, also pointed out he garnered over 2,000 votes which reflects that “my campaign staff and I did an excellent job...trying to get the word out” to the public.
Izzo, when asked about the overall election campaign, said “I felt good about it” until Monday. She said Halpin’s campaign “spread some lies about our administration taking away retirement contributions for employees” and cutting healthcare benefits. Izzo said “nothing could be further from the truth,” adding the situation was upsetting but did “not sway the vote.”
Halpin said some city employees had expressed concern about future retirement contributions and healthcare benefits in “looking ahead...down the road” as union contracts come up for new negotiations. He said there may have been some disconnect in how that information was being conveyed.
However, Halpin also observed the “rumor mill” had been indicating he could seek to be “outsourcing jobs” now handled by certain city employees, and “I had to go squelch” that information which was incorrect. Both sides in the campaign faced some rumors and/or disconnects, he noted.
Izzo commented that in going forward, her administration will seek to stay involved in such topics as Rome Memorial Hospital and overall healthcare in the area, plus she said it will be interesting regarding the outcome of potential Rome school district plans to replace Staley Elementary School by renovating and expanding the former Clough school. She previously has noted that as new housing is developed around Griffiss park, the Clough facility could become like a neighborhood school for Griffiss. Clough is located on Bell Road next to Griffiss.
Izzo referred to many people “looking to possibly move into Rome” in conjunction with Griffiss sites such as the Air Force Research Laboratory and various technology-related businesses as well as ongoing development of unmanned aerial vehicles/drones. They reflect “the new fabric of our community,” she added.