Watertown’s mayor-elect actively preparing for office

WATERTOWN — Mayor-elect Joseph M. Butler Jr. joked that he’s taken an active role to get ready for taking office on Jan. 1 as the city’s top elected official.

When asked what he’s been doing to prepare for the job, he joked, “pushups, sit-ups and the 40-yard dash. I’m in the best shape.”

Mr. Butler, whose father served as mayor from 2000 to 2004, easily defeated incumbent Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham in the Nov. 3 election.

He’ll be joined by new council members Mark C. Walczyk and Cody J. Horbacz on the first of the year. Mr. Butler has served as a council member for the past eight years.

“I’m as excited as I was when I first took office,” he said. “I can’t wait to start working on making Watertown a better place.”

Since the election, the mayor-elect has been meeting with a variety of city staff, state officials and U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, to see how they can work together on issues facing the city.

He’s sat down a few times to talk to City Manager Sharon A. Addison and city department heads about the priorities he would like to see the city work on over the next year. They’re already talking about what he would like to see in the next fiscal year’s budget.

Getting an outside firm to help go after grants is a possibility, he said. It might be a better strategy to get funding for city projects through the North Country Regional Economic Development Committee, possibly getting some money to complete Western Boulevard, so some additional commercial businesses can be attracted to that area.

Among the state officials he’s met with is Lt. Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul. He talked to her about what will happen with Jefferson Rehabilitation Center’s sheltered workshop and the others around the state.

They talked about the state’s current plans for making some changes with the programs around the state.

The state planned to shut down the sheltered workshop and eliminate 60 jobs for the developmentally disabled working at Production Unlimited. State officials are now looking at ways to preserve the workshops.

By Craig Fox, Times Staff Writer