(Editor's Note: This is the first part in a three-part, in-depth look at the three Mayoral candidates for the city of New Castle. The News is sitting down with all three candidates running for office and providing insight as to their platforms and their plan for the future of New Castle.)
Mayoral candidate James Constant says, if he's elected, his priorities lie in growing a tax base, repairing city roads and coming out of Act 47 successfully.
"I'd look at it (governing) different. I'd fight for the people," said Constant, an independent. "I don't want to raise taxes. I don't want my taxes raised. I don't see why we have to raise taxes to run our government."
One of the ways Constant says he wants to do that is by attracting more people to move into the city instead of raising taxes for existing residents.
"What's needed for downtown New Castle? People and money," said Constant.
Constant says he'll apply for $250 million of Gov. Wolf's $4.5 billion Restore PA initiative, which is a proposal by the governor to allocate funds for infrastructure issues around the state such as flooding and blight.
"We're going to get that money. Tom Wolf ain't gonna hand New Castle the money," said Constant. "I'm going after that money because I have a vision of what we can do."
Constant says he has visions of making New Castle the crown jewel of America in ways such as building five castles throughout the city, connected by a monorail, to host events such as academic, art and athletic competitions for children to win scholarships.
"You give an 8-year-old kid a paper that says you got $100 at graduation to put anywhere you want," explained Constant. "I want this little kid thinking, 'What am I going to do? Maybe I can become an astronaut. Maybe I'll be an eye doctor. Maybe I'll be a heart surgeon. Maybe I'll be something productive and positive for society.'"
Constant, who calls himself a "transplant," hails originally from Youngstown, Ohio, but moved to Florida when his parents sold their home. Constant ran a gift shop for 16 years before business downturn caused him to sell his commercial property. Constant then worked his way up the ladder at Walmart before leaving to take care of his ailing father. Once his father passed away, Constant's wife Marina asked if they could relocate to New Castle in order to take care of her mother who was also sick.
When they made the move to the city, they bought an over 100-year-old house, and have spent time restoring it.
He's been married to Marina, who owns Status Event Planning & Party Room, for 34 years, and they have three children.
While the city has until 2022 to exit Act 47, Constant says he wants to do so "with our heads up," to avoid receivership.
"I don't want our community to go deeper in debt," said Constant.
Constant says he supports Home Rule, and would like to see current mayor Anthony Mastrangelo as one of the elected members.
"He's got the best interest. It might not look that way, but Anthony's a human being," said Constant.
One of Constant's motivations to join the race for mayor include wanting to change polices at the New Castle Sanitation Authority.
Constant says when he approached the Sanitation Authority to reimburse him for water lost when he pressure-washed his home, he was told it could not be done.
"Well obviously it's going to take politics (to change this policy)," said Constant.
Constant joined the race in August after last year's primaries turned out Democrat Mark Elisco and Republican Chris Frye as the nominees for the two major parties.
"The Republican party seem to take from the poor and give to the rich. Democrats take from the rich and give to the poor," said Constant. "The Independents, I would hope, we take from everybody and give back to everybody because we're all in it together."
Constant says he'll look to other elected officials in the county like the incoming county commissioners for guidance.
"It's not a matter of having all the answers. I'm not going to fix all the problems by myself," he said. "I'm honest. I'm trustworthy. I'm loyal and my word is my bond. I don't burn bridges."
"We do have good people, but it (the city) needs help," he said. "The challenge is big, and I like it."