On Thursday, Mayor Palmieri unveiled the new name of the Utica Business Park on Burrstone Rd. Various council members were there as well as NYS Assemblywoman Marriane Buttenschon. Most notably, former Mayor Louis LaPolla (Mayor from ‘84-’95) was there standing beside Palmieri, as the park has now been renamed “Lapolla & Ford”. According to the Mayor’s office, “Mayor LaPolla and Mr. Ford, who served as Vice President/Treasurer of Utica College at that time, were instrumental in creating the business park and encouraging businesses to remain in Utica.” What was especially interesting was the level of bipartisan respect displayed. Palmieri is a Democrat and Lapolla is a Republican, but they say that before anything else they are Uticans and learned to work together.
The former Republican mayor spoke with the Phoenix about how happy he was about the Republican/Democrat mutual cooperation displayed by Palmieri renaming the park. LaPolla: “Rob Palmieri was a councilman under my administration. Here was a Democratic mayor honoring a Republican mayor. It’s unheard of in the past.” Palmieri went on in his speech to point out that political tribalism is a crisis in our country that Utica seems to be exempt from. He believes Utica to be an example of how regardless of political affiliation, people can learn to trust one another. He elaborated on this in an interview with the Phoenix.
Utica Phoenix: [In regards to the need for bipartisanship] Do you have any message for people who aren’t heeding that right now, and are really entrenched on one side or the other?
Palmieri: “I think it’s much easier to work with people than it is to work against people. We all have different opinions, and there’s nothing wrong with our opinions. And there’s nothing wrong with exercising our first amendment. However, I think we have seen, in other parts of the country and really in the city of Utica, I’m honored to say that we kinda work together. We build bridges, we don’t blow ‘em up. And I just think it’s symbolically about the immigrants that come here, our refugees that come here. Listen, if we look back 70 or 80 years when the Italians, the Poles, the Germans, the Irish first came here, they were the founders. They were the ones that had implemented where we are. So, I think Utica and this region, we do work together. And it’s not so much Republican and Democrat, it’s not so much Conservative and Liberal. It’s finding the solutions to the problems, and how do we work to get the solutions. Everyone has ideas. You keep an open mind, you may not agree with it, but look at the other side of the coin, before you make a judgment.
Utica Phoenix: “So, we find something that the other side can contribute as well?”
Palmieri: “Absolutely. I mean, everyone knows, you always have disagreements with your brothers, your sisters, your wife, your friends. It’s healthy. It’s not healthy to bring it where we are at this point. A disservice to the people, and name calling, and the antics that we see in other parts of the country, that is not who we are as Americans. That is not how we’re [Uticans] looked at. And I’m really honored to say that in the city of Utica, we see it [cooperation] day-in day-out. Do we have some difficulties at times? Absolutely we do, but we work well together.