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Macaluso, Jennings win Watertown City Council seats

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Teresa R. Macaluso coasted to a second term and political newcomer Stephen A. Jennings pulled off an upset victory in Tuesday’s election for the Watertown City Council.

Ms. Macaluso was the top vote-getter with 1,646 votes, according to unofficial results, while Mr. Jennings won 1,378 votes, enough to claim the second seat up for grabs in the four-way race. Another political newcomer, Cody J. Horbacz, placed third, with 1,106 votes, ahead of longtime council member Jeffrey M. Smith, with 1,091.

For Mr. Jennings, 46, victory came in his first run for political office. He barely paid attention Tuesday night as the results were shown on a large-screen TV at the Black River Valley Club. By then, though, he had accumulated a 165-vote lead.

“Nothing fazes me,” he said. “I’m always calm.”

Mr. Jennings explained his showing by saying he worked hard, including campaigning door to door. He also left about 2,000 pieces of campaign literature at voters’ homes, wrote letters to people he talked with and sent out another 300 to all absentee voters, he said.

“It was always almost entirely positive,” he said about meeting and talking with potential supporters.

Much of the race focused on the role of city government. Mr. Jennings, the Jefferson County public health planner and public information officer, ran on his proposal that the city should help to solve such problems as deteriorating neighborhoods, crime, drugs and low education achievement. He said the city should work cooperatively with law enforcement, school officials and nonprofit organizations.

Meanwhile, Ms. Macaluso, 55, hoped to repeat what she did in the Sept. 10 primary, when she also accumulated the most votes in a six-way race. She said she believes voters recognized that she always made decisions with them in mind, she said at a gathering at her house with about 30 friends and family members.

“I have no hidden agenda,” she said. “I’m really there for the people, always have been and always will be.”

During the campaign, she talked to voters who visited her Coffeen Street business, Brew Ha Ha. It was a good way to have contact with voters, she said.

Mr. Smith, 43, who has been on the council for 12 years, said voters made their choice. He wasn’t disappointed so much with the results as with the low voter turnout, Mr. Smith said. With no hot-button issues on their minds, some supporters may have figured he would safely win re-election and therefore they did not come out to vote, he said.

During the campaign, he told voters the city’s finances had improved. Property taxes decreased, the city’s debt went down and its bonding and credit ratings went up, he said.

“I’m leaving the city in far better shape than when I got into office,” he said.

He remained philosophical Tuesday night.

“The sun will come up tomorrow. I’ll go to work. My kids have hockey,” he said. “I’ll spend more time with my family.”

Gathering with about 30 supporters at the Flashback Lounge on State Street, Mr. Horbacz, 28, said he was proud of his showing. Although his age may have played a role in the results, Mr. Horbacz vowed to run again.

“It was the first time I ran, and I’m young. Maybe I had that going against me,” he said. “Third place feels good. Definitely, I’m going to run again.”

Mr. Horbacz was the only candidate to raise money for his campaign. He also was the only one of the four who mustered a real get-out-the-vote effort Tuesday, with volunteers running a phone bank and literally hitting the street with campaign signs to get support.

“I feel great,” he said.

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