6 questions with Linda Ferguson, Cortland's 7th ward alderwoman

Editor's Note: Click here to read our interview with Adam Megivern, who is running as a Republican against Ferguson in the November election. Ferguson also faces third-party challenger Kristen Dye, who is running as an independent candidate.

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CORTLAND, N.Y. – 7th ward alderwoman Linda Ferguson is seeking her fourth term on Cortland's Common Council in the Nov. 3 election.

Linda Ferguson

Linda Ferguson

We recently spoke with Ferguson, a Democrat, to discuss her candidacy and what she sees as the biggest issues facing the city of Cortland.

1 - In what ways have you been reaching out to voters?

LF: "Walking the streets, handing out literature and talking to people. It's about building a relationship, which I have with many people already, because I've been in this position for six years and hopefully another two years. We have ward meetings and neighborhood watch meetings. As far as the phone goes, I've received 2,500 constituent calls in six years. We communicate every single day and we have an exchange of ideas on my Facebook page."

2 - What are some of your priorities for Common Council?

LF: "There’s quite a few priorities on the Common Council. Right now, I would say one issue is extremely important, and that’s the traffic lights they want to take down in this ward. They want to take a lot of them down. I would like to work with the county, because I think it’s time we should realize the voting situation is not working."

See related: Cortland residents want traffic lights, not stop signs at two city intersections

"I’m also very concerned about the zombie housing. I would like to have ward meetings on this issue and I will continue to work with the neighborhood watch, which I developed."

"I also feel that drugs are an issue; however, I feel the police are doing a very good job on these issues, and they work closely with our neighborhood watch."

"We also need a leash law in Cortland. It’s creating quite an issue because we are getting more and more dogs in Cortland. I think dogs need to be on a leash when they're walking down the street. You think you can manage your dog, but how do you know that? I think we need a leash law that will have our dogs contained while they're walking in the streets. The growing number of pit bulls that are coming into the city has been astronomical."

3 - Do you think there is an affordable housing crisis in the city?

LF: "As I mentioned regarding the zombie houses, we have so many houses just sitting around. I’ve spoken to code enforcement many times, and it costs the city a lot of money. You have to watch out for people who will just go in the houses. There will be drugs in these houses, people will wreck the houses. It's an issue we need to work on because what holds it up is that people just leave the houses, the banks take them over, and we are responsible for trying to take care of them, and we lose money. We need affordable housing. We need housing for low and middle income people."

"I think right now our hands are sort of tied; however, in my ward, the neighborhood watch will call the police anytime they see something they think looks wrong with these zombie houses. I just think if the city could work with either the owners or the banks, it would be less of a problem; however, that’s not the way it works, and the city can take forever to try and locate the owner. I think we could work together on these homes or make even more laws to stop any time of criminal activity."

4 - What have your constituents told you are issues they are most concerned about?

LF: "They are concerned about the traffic lights. There have been accidents in the areas where they want to take down the lights. They want to put up a 4-way stop, which I think sometimes people don’t pay attention to. My objection to that was this ward went to city hall and expressed the way they feel about the lights coming down, and then they suggested a study. It’s like they’re ignoring the wishes of the ward."

5 - Do you think there is enough demand for a flagship hotel downtown?

LF: "As far as the hotel, we need businesses on Main Street, because we have people who don’t have jobs and the businesses will give people jobs. You see all the empty storefronts on Main Street. Why do you want to build a hotel there? Who is coming to it? I don’t have anything against accommodations on Main Street to our young people; however, what are we gonna do with the growing families who can't do anything on Main Street?"

"They need to put stores on Main Street and make it desirable for people to even be there. Why would you go to Main Street to be in a hotel and still have to get in a car to go shopping? We have plenty of good hotels in Cortland, and I think we need to consider other areas before we consider putting up a hotel."

6 - What's your favorite way to spend a weekend in Cortland?

LF: "I like spending it with my family. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of places in Cortland you can go and spend the day, and these are things I think we need to correct to keep people in the city of Cortland. When I go shopping, I go to Syracuse or Ithaca, and that’s not the way it’s supposed to be, in my opinion. We need to build Cortland in a positive manner. What can our teenagers do? We have tons of teenagers that have nothing to do. That’s not right."

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