Katie Aiello-Martin (R,C,I,LBT)

Age: 29

Education: Bachelor's degree in Communication and Information Design from SUNY IT

Occupation: Owner of Character Coffee

Professional and previous political experience: Experience with marketing and communications

Family: Husband, Jesse; two daughters, Genevieve (3) and Giada (1)

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What would you say are the biggest issues facing the area you seek to represent and how would you address those?

1. Nearly every time I am going door-to-door I hear people ask, “What is the Common Council?”. This question means we have a massive disconnect between our citizens and local government in the 1st Ward. It’s not just that our people don’t feel heard, but many don’t even know how to communicate with our city to begin with.

2. We need to provide better support to our local businesses. ... Utica is falling short on that. How can we communicate with our businesses if we don’t even know who is here? We can’t unless we create a Business Directory. I’ve already started building one at katieforutica.com/business — because setting new standards of communication is absolutely necessary if we are going to grow our businesses, jobs, tourism, and economy to its full potential.

3. 1st Ward is so much more than our downtown and every neighborhood deserves the same attention and resources.

What makes you the best candidate for the job?

1st Ward is a unique district made up of residents, businesses, and nonprofits. As a resident, business owner, and board member of Feed Our Veterans all located in the 1st Ward — I have the unique advantage of seeing our needs and opportunities from all angles.

I would bring intentional leadership that prioritizes resolving our communication issues so we can prepare Utica not only for 2020, but what we want our city to look like in 2030, 2040, etc. As a professional in marketing, I not only know what we need to begin creating communication solutions for Uticans, but I can personally execute and build those tools to make sure 1st Ward is adequately represented on the Common Council.

… I am a firm believer in checks and balances and as some one part of the Independence Party we would have the added value of a third party presence if I am elected.

MARIA PEZZOLANELLA MCNIEL (D,WF)

Age: 35

Education: Frankfort-Schuyler graduate; Associate degree, MVCC

Occupation: Developer, current First Ward Utica Common Council representative

Professional and previous political experience: Worked in the construction field developing and managing properties; held office since 2016

Family information: Husband, two children and two pups

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What would you say are the biggest issues facing the area you seek to represent and how would you address those?

Currently, new growth is transforming the 1st Ward. Now, the challenge is to make it work for everyone. The growth will create jobs to help people out of poverty. At the same time, all people need access and opportunity. On top of the businesses, we’ve seen the expansion of the Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the new Bargain Grocer, the relocation of the Center for refugees and new housing for people with lower incomes and seniors. There’s still work to do. For families, we must make sure traffic safety and childcare are priorities. People need adequate parking and decent roads. Our plans need to incorporate parks and streetscaping. The police and fire departments need the tools to keep the district safe. We’ve attracted the biggest investments in the history of our City, I want to ensure they all come together and make a vibrant, friendly community.

What makes you the best candidate for the job?

What’s happening in my district is once-in-a-generation change. It wasn’t easy to attract, and it’s the type of thing that takes years to implement. I know the people, I know the projects and I want to make sure the work is seen through. I always say that we need progress and not politics in the 1stWard, and I’m determine to get things done. I’m also a mother who is raising a family in the neighborhood and I constantly remind myself what this is all about. Buildings are just structures, but restaurants, services, homes and activities are what make-up the culture we will pass along. I got involved in politics because I wanted to give our children better job opportunities, more things to do and a place they would be excited to live in. I think you’re seeing that type of place develop, and I’d like to finish the job.