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Cliff Olney: Seemingly Constant Thorn In Side Of City Officials For Years

By CRAIG FOX, Watertown Daily Times Photo: Sydney Schaefer, Watertown Daily Times

Jun 15, 2019 Updated Jun 17, 2019

WATERTOWN — Cliff G. Olney III has been a seemingly constant thorn in the side of city officials for years.

You can see what he thinks about city government and his mayoral campaign by reading his often blunt Facebook page.

It’s the major way’s he gotten his message out on his campaign. Out of the four candidates for mayor, no one has used social media more than Mr. Olney.

He’s blasted the city on such issues as the lack of transparency in city government and calling for back door deals, how the city has handled a controversy over a lease with the Watertown Golf Club and how north side neighborhoods are ignored.

“It’s all messaging,” he said.

In the past three election cycles, Mr. Olney’s name has appeared on the election ballot. Before his current campaign for mayor, he ran unsuccessful bids for City Council in 2017 and 2015.

Last winter, Mr. Olney showed interest in the council seat that was vacated when former Councilman Mark C. Walczyk won election to the state Assembly.

He was among 15 people who were interviewed for the position. Mr. Olney, with his negative views of City Hall, knew he would not be considered for the vacant seat.

His interest turned to running for mayor, instead. Mr. Olney vows he’ll keep residents informed about the goings-on with city government if he’s elected.

“People don’t want politicians telling people what they want,” he said. “They want a politician who asks what they want.”

Mr. Olney serves as a member of the city Zombie Task Force that looks at the issue of vacant and abandoned properties.

Of course, Mr. Olney criticized how the task force is handling the problem.

His take? It’s more about identifying those type of properties and citing code violations than about the city getting them fixed up, he said.

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