As Mayor Charlotte Ramsay works to improve the village of Canton, she has high hopes for its relationship with the university, impressed by the initiative of both former President Sullivan and current President Fox.
Ramsay, a New England native, moved to Canton in 1970 when her husband was offered a teaching position at St. Lawrence. Ramsay, a graduate of Cornell, explained, “We thought we’d come to St. Lawrence for a year or two, or until something better comes along.” Now, nearly 40 years later, Ramsay has deep roots in Canton, where she has raised her two sons and has been an active member of the community since her arrival. “I think Canton is just a wonderful village and a wonderful community. I think it is a great place to raise children,” said Ramsay.
When discussing her involvement in the community, Ramsay said, “I’ve always loved community service. I started out on the board of Planned Parenthood.” Ramsay is also a member of the community organization, Friends of The Canton Library, which is dedicated to promoting and preserving the Canton Free Library. She has also served as a director of the local daycare center.
Ramsay explained that she became politically involved in the community when a friend suggested she run for the school board, which she served on for 13 years. She was eventually appointed as a trustee by the former mayor and later ran for the position of mayor when he retired. Now in her second two-year term as mayor, Ramsay said, “I think the most fun part is working with all the great people who want to do things for Canton.”
Of course, Ramsay is very aware of the economic problems facing Canton. She expressed nostalgia for the economic and community strength in Canton’s past. “Population is one of the challenges facing Canton. In the last two censuses in 1990 and 2000, we lost population. I don’t know what next year’s census will bring,” she said, adding, “The property tax burden is a big issue. One of the things I need to work on is how we can do things more efficiently, how we can increase the tax base.”
Dealing with the economic burden Canton faces, Ramsay is “trying to take small steps to improve life here.” According to Ramsay, the village recently purchased LED lights for the holidays. “The lights cost $600 but the payback will be seen in just a year.”
With regard to the university’s relationship with Canton, Ramsay offered, “I think it’s actually very good. I give Dan Sullivan, the previous president, a lot of credit and I think Bill Fox is building on that foundation.” The mayor was also quite honored that Fox made a point to visit the village offices rather than meeting at the university. “He is just very aware that the university and the village need each other, that they’re intertwined,” she said.
While Ramsay was satisfied with the relationship between the university and the village, she did note that “in the past there used to be a lot more students coming down to shop and eat.” Ramsay has seen both Canton and St. Lawrence evolve during the last 40 years and notices the increasing ease for students to stay on campus. Nevertheless, Ramsay is still very familiar with the way things used to be, with students frequenting local restaurants and stores more often, and hopes to attain a similar relationship in the future. She also commended former President Sullivan on the Canton Initiative, which significantly strengthened St. Lawrence’s relationship with Canton and has helped many local businesses.
Furthermore, Ramsay was not only familiar with, but also impressed by President Fox’s economic involvement in the village surrounding his previous college, Culver-Stockton College. Ramsay expressed her faith in Fox: “I think [the relationship] will be strengthened because of Bill and Lynn Fox. At Culver-Stockton College, they were involved in economic development. They expressed the same interest here.” Mayor Ramsay feels that she and the president have much in common as far as their interests for the community. In order to ensure the best for both Canton and the university, Ramsay hopes that they “keep talking and listening to each other.”