FIVE QUESTIONS: Amherst mayoral candidate Mark Costilow

Mark Costilow

Mark Costilow

Age: 52

Current employment: Owner Amherst Cinema and Amherst safety-service director

1) Why have you chosen to run for Amherst’s top executive office? What issues are you passionate about?

My family and I have been proud to call Amherst home for 26 years. Our two children attended and graduated from Amherst Schools where they received an excellent education. We have owned and operated the Amherst Cinema for 16 years. I believe that my neighborhood, the downtown historical district, and in fact the entire city are better off today than they were 12 years ago. I have been privileged to work closely with our current mayor the past four years serving as safety-service director and I am proud of the things we have accomplished. I want to continue and build on the progress we have made. I want to keep Amherst a prosperous city, a city we are proud to call home, a great place to raise our families, and a city that puts its residents first!

2) What must be accomplished to improve Amherst’s position in the next four years and what lesser projects should be accomplished if possible?

Business development: I have a plan that I will present to city council to encourage and reward existing businesses for increasing their bottom line profits. Amherst’s buildable commercial property is limited; however, we have some great existing business properties available. I will encourage new businesses to locate in Amherst utilizing these existing locations.

Infrastructure: A city’s infrastructure is vital to the overall success and desirability of a community. It’s a large part of maintaining a community people want to live and raise a family in. We’ve made significant progress with our infrastructure over the past 12 years and I will continue that progress.

Technology: I will perform a technology audit of all our city departments, identifying and addressing pertinent technology needs. Using both short- and long term-goals I will identify areas that can be consolidated, optimized, and upgraded resulting in costs savings and overall city-wide efficiency.

3) Amherst’s budget has been lean and spending has been extremely guarded in the past decade. Are there areas (police, fire, roads, Office on Aging, utilities, community development, etc.) you think more money should be spent to improve services to residents and businesses?

Amherst’s budget has been extremely guarded in the past 12 years and rightfully so! It is my conviction that we are elected to be prudent stewards of the taxpayer’s dollars. Too often we read or hear of surrounding cities whose budgets have a deficit of millions of dollars. That is not the case in Amherst! While we do not have money to waste, we have a budget that is in the black and we have made significant improvements to our infrastructure while also adequately funding and staffing all our city departments. I will constantly evaluate the city’s services and the cost of delivering them. I believe we have been excellent stewards of the taxpayers’ money and I will continue that form of governance.

4) Cuts without new revenue streams won’t solve Amherst’s problems. What would you as mayor propose to bring in more money?

Amherst like all cities, must actively seek new revenue streams on a continuous basis. Logically that income should come from new business growth, as well as promoting the expansion and growth of existing businesses. I have a plan that I will present to city council to reward existing businesses as they grow their profits. The Amherst business community will benefit and the city will benefit by growth of business tax revenue.

I will aggressively promote Amherst and its assets and work with various community, county, and state agencies, groups, and interests to seek out opportunities and businesses that would be a good fit for our city and its residents. Amherst’s budget has finished the year in the black for over a decade. We have not cut city services, and have maintained those services. I will continue to offer our community the best city services possible.

5) What previous experiences, memberships, unique qualifications, or other aspects make you the ideal candidate for mayor of Amherst?

I have an excellent working knowledge of Amherst, the administration of city government, our infrastructure, our projects and programs, and our various safety and service departments.

I am the current safety-service director and the planning commission chairman. I have served as a city councilman and the zoning board of appeals chairman.

As safety-service director, I serve as the executive head of the police, fire, and building departments. I have represented the city in negotiations with our labor unions. I have assisted in policy formulation, annual city budget preparation, been actively involved in the bid process for awarding city contracts, and overseen the improvement and repair of city infrastructure and the construction of all public works and improvements.

I’ve owned and built the Amherst Cinema into a successful business over the past 16 years. I understand the importance of a vibrant business community, and a transparent, well-run government.

Mark Costilow Costilow