Mayor Rosenquest will not seek re-election in City of Plattsburgh

Feb. 2—PLATTSBURGH — City of Plattsburgh Mayor Chris Rosenquest will not seek re-election in 2024.

Rosenquest broke the news to the crowd at Friday's annual North Country Chamber of Commerce's State of the City, Town and County breakfast address.

Rosenquest, 48, said he wanted to spend more time with his family.

"I hear many parents talk about the time that they lose with their kids and I've got a six year old at home. and honestly, I've got maybe six to seven years of good time with this boy to focus on his growth, his development, and the mayor seat is a full-time job. Make no mistake, this is not a 40-hour-a-week job," he told the media after his announcement.

"And I just cannot find myself sacrificing that time with Miles to do this work. The work is important, but first and foremost, I'm a father, I'm a husband, and then I'm a mayor. and that's what it comes down to. My family is very important to me, my boy is very important to me, and again, I just don't feel like I can sacrifice this time with him."

ELECTED IN 2020

Rosenquest, a Democrat, was elected mayor in 2020 when he defeated Republican Scott Beebie. Rosenquest had defeated incumbent Mayor Colin Read in a Democratic primary in June of 2020 to set up the bout with Beebie.

Prior to becoming mayor, Rosenquest was a Clinton County legislator representing the city in Area 9.

He also ran for mayor in 2013 in a three-way race that was won by Jim Calnon.

Now, looking ahead to the rest of his final year in office, Rosenquest said his work to complete several projects and initiatives, like the Bike Friendly Plattsburgh Plan and Parks Renewal Project, will continue.

"We're not going to get all the Parks Renewal stuff done (this year), but we're gonna get that ball rolling," he said.

"We will still go for grants as we continue to move (forward). We're just getting through another grant cycle this year as well. and so we'll continue to press on the opportunity to fund this through grants, but these are major projects that we'd like to see."

Infrastructure projects involving several city streets are also in the works for the near future.

The mayor said the city received grant funding to redo the Court and Brinkerhoff Street corridors and that will be complete this year. Additionally, Broad Street will be getting a redesign this year that will increase safety. Next year, Cornelia Street will get a similar facelift as well, he said.

"These are major, not only infrastructure, but quality of life projects that I was elected to do. People ask me to 'do this,' 'make this change,' 'we want to see progress.' This is what progress looks like," Rosenquest said.

"And so these are things that I'd like to see done, that are slated to be done this year. Moving forward, obviously, coming back to figuring out what we do with our beach. We've got a feasibility study for Sailor's Beach, which we're excited to do, because ... it's tucked away, it's mostly ignored, but it's a great asset for us ... Those are really the major components that I'd like to see done before the end of this year."

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

When asked if he was satisfied with what he accomplished as mayor, Rosenquest said he "can always do more."

"From day one coming in, (I knew) that there was going to need to be things that got cleaned up, and there was going to need to be progress made. We've been doing both. Cleaning up the budget ... we've been making sure that the consistency of our tax increases, the levy increase and the tax decreases have been there. We're at the lowest tax rate in the last 10-12 years," he said.

"So I'm extremely satisfied with what we've been able to accomplish. Given more time, we accomplish more, but at the end of the day, I'm not dissatisfied with what we've been able to do."

Rosenquest pointed to his council as the reason more did not get done in his time as mayor.

"I think we could have gotten a lot more done had we not had such a controversial and what we call the 'opposition caucus' on this council, but it's the nature of politics," he said.

"People have got their own opinions and they're going to vote the way that they want to vote, but it's just unfortunate because a lot of people that want to see progress also see a lot of ... what they feel to be unnecessary infighting at the same time, which causes a lot of progress to halt."

Most notably in Rosenquest's tenure, he and members of the council have sparred over several city issues including the late 2022 decision to demolish the Crete Memorial Civic Center and the failed hotel development agreement in September of 2023, which could have brought a hotel to the city's harborside.

Additionally, in December of 2023, councilors, which included Elizabeth Gibbs (D-Ward 3), Jeff Moore (D-Ward 6) and Julie Baughn (D-Ward 1) did not support the mayor's appointment of Peter Mitchell as city police chief. Most recently, Gibbs and Moore critiqued the mayor's timing and handling of the reapportionment of the city's ward districts, which is now being postponed until at least after November.

Rosenquest said he believes the disagreements he has faced with his council are not unique to him specifically, and that mayors before him faced the same challenges.

Still, he said he couldn't understand why "almost everything" he put before his council was "controversial."

"I've tried to address the controversy, to address the opposition, extend olive branches, extend conversations even to a point of saying let's go to mediation ... for resolving some of these conflicts. I don't know. I just don't know why it's the case. I've always been open to feedback. I've always been open to having ... very tough, challenging conversations," he said.

"Anybody that is going to sit in this seat as the mayor is going to gain criticism. That's part of the job. Part of the job is to listen to that criticism, not take it personal and see how you can use that to make some change in the future; that's been my job."

NOT A FACTOR

Rosenquest emphasized that the "opposition" he has faced in his time as mayor was not a factor in deciding to not run for re-election.

"My decision is based solely on family. I've been dealing with the controversy, the frustration, the opposition for the last three years. I've come to understand and even appreciate it," he said.

"It helps me view things from a different perspective. Even if I don't agree with that perspective, I still get to see and hear what other people are thinking. I'm not surrounding myself with people who are always saying 'yes.' I don't expect people to always say yes; I expect people to be respectful, to do the job that they were elected to do and do it well."

Rosenquest said he was not going to make any decisions right now but did not rule out running for office some time in the future.

"Like I said before, Miles is six one time in his life, but the City of Plattsburgh is always going to be here," he said. "Whether I revisit the political life or not, I'll leave that up to the future."

As for the city, the mayor feels he is leaving it on good terms. But, he wants to see the implementation of a city manager before he leaves.

"The City of Plattsburgh needs a city manager — you would not rely on happenstance to find somebody who can do this work. It really does require a strong business background and somebody who has that kind of public-facing persona that can really be the cheerleader for our community, as well as somebody who has the experience of managing this kind of organization," Rosenquest said.

"In a regular election cycle, you never know who you're gonna get, you just don't ... and I just point to my own experience from a business perspective and my experience sitting in this seat and say, fundamentally, it really does require an expert: somebody who can manage the business, somebody who knows how to manage the business and somebody who can do it well and consistently."

Rosenquest, who has run Chapter One Coffee & Tea with his wife, Tracy, for several years now, says he plans to stay in the city after his term is up.

"I'm not going anywhere. My business is here. My family's here. We moved home for a reason, we're happy with what we're doing, and we'll stick around. So I'm not going anywhere."

Email: cnewton@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: CarlySNewton