Michael Cinquanti is running as a challenger to incumbent Michael Villa for the position of City of Amsterdam Mayor. Cinquanti will appear on the Democratic, Conservative, Green, Working Families, and Independence party lines for city voters on election day, November 5, 2019.
Cinquanti is a life-long resident of the city who graduated from Amsterdam High School in 1972 and then received a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Albany in 1976. He is president and founder of Genium Group Inc., a technical publishing business that was spun-off from General Electric in 1984.
He previously served two terms on the Greater Amsterdam School District Board of Education and has previously served as a board member of the Montgomery County ARC, Montgomery County Catholic Charities, Schenectady County Economic Development Advisory Board, and the Business Department Advisory Board of Fulton-Montgomery Community College. He currently serves as a board member for the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation and he is a member of the Historic Amsterdam League and has coached Wee Men’s baseball and CYO basketball.
He has been married for 43 years to his wife Rosemary, and is the father of four children and six grandchildren.
On the issues
The candidate’s answers to five questions are listed below. The answers are in the candidate’s own words, with minor edits for clarity.
- Question: How can the city correct the problem of over-estimation of revenues and under-estimation of expenses?
Answer: In a Cinquanti administration we will be forming a budget committee and conducting monthly budget reviews, department by department. We will analyze every category, subcategory and department for differences between projected and actual costs. From our analysis we’ll implement efficiency and budget changes in collaboration with our departments and city workforce and provide monthly reports to the common council. I succeeded in the private sector as an entrepreneur and businessman through accountability, transparent communication and continual review and adjustments. That’s what I will do as our next mayor.
- Question: What are the next steps the city needs to take to correct the fund balance deficit problem?
Answer: Correcting the fund deficit problem is one of my key priorities. As many know, the New York State Comptroller, who just rated Amsterdam as New York’s worst city in terms of financial distress, is conducting an audit on this very issue and will be issuing recommendations. I intend to evaluate the feasibility of each recommendation with Controller Matt Agresta, department heads, and my budget committee and then present our findings to the Common Council along with my recommendations for further action.
Meanwhile we will also be conducting our own internal review and analysis of city operations including our bidding and purchasing procedures. I will also be investigating and actively pursuing several shared services opportunities being exercised effectively by other municipalities. We will make an all-out effort to generate the level of surplus necessary to operate the city and pay down its debt without again depending on taxpayers to foot that burden and we will clearly explain our progress with that objective each and every month.
One other essential step is that the city needs to do a much better job tracking and explaining transfers from one account to another. We must never again put ourselves in the position of not being able to recreate financial history in city government.
- Question: Where do you currently stand on moving forward (or not) on the KCG Development residential project?
Answer: The type of housing proposed for the KCG project could be relocated to another site. The Chalmers site is one of Amsterdam’s prime undeveloped pieces of real estate. If elected I’d move quickly to seek assistance in remediating the environmental issues. Then I plan on holding public hearings so that citizens have the opportunity to provide input on this important issue.
Two strategies to be considered are to attract and retain retirees to move to or maintain a residence in our city and the other would be to utilize our waterfront to attract new small-sized professional/consulting/ technology businesses to our community. I strongly believe we need to market this site aggressively but at the same time be patient until the right opportunity emerges.
- Question: What are your top 3 qualifications from previous positions/experiences?
Answer: 1) I have successfully managed a successful small business for 35 years. 2) I have served on the boards of the Greater Amsterdam School District and Montgomery County ARC and been deeply involved in the budget process for both organizations, which were much larger and more multi-faceted than the City of Amsterdam’s current $35 million dollar budget. Both organizations did a much better job than our city currently does developing their budgets, managing & measuring their budgets implementation over time and identifying and remediating budget variances. I intend to bring those best practices to city government. 3) I have a diversified portfolio of project management successes in my background including overseeing the creation of new businesses, new products, new properties and hiring all levels of employees.
- Question: What are your top 3 goals if elected?
Answer: 1) To generate budget surpluses. 2) To implement multi-pronged blight-management and street maintenance programs modeled after similar programs, which have been successful in other municipalities. 3) To initiate an economic development program that attracts new families and new small businesses to our city.