Schenectady County

Interest spikes in Schenectady council presidency

Schenectady City Councilwoman Margaret King has quietly positioned herself to become the city’s seco

Schenectady City Councilwoman Margaret King has quietly positioned herself to become the city’s second female mayor if the current mayor were to run successfully for Congress.

According to council members, King has persuaded her colleagues to vote her in as council president at today’s organizational meeting. The vote will be held after council members and Mayor Brian U. Stratton are sworn in at 1 p.m. at City Hall.

The largely ceremonial position as council president holds more significance than usual because it may be a free ticket to running the city in 2009.

That’s because Stratton may not be here to do it — he’s testing the water for a congressional run and may be among the many Democrats lining up for retiring U.S. Rep. Michael McNulty’s seat in a September primary.

If Stratton were elected to Congress, taking the seat in January 2009, the council president would run the city as acting mayor until a new mayor could be elected in November 2009, taking the seat in January 2010.

If King declined to serve as mayor, the council could unanimously appoint someone else, but the person could not be a council member, Corporation Counsel L. John Van Norden said.

He doesn’t think that would happen.

“Let’s say the mayor decides to leave on Dec. 31,” Van Norden said. “The president of the council would serve until a special election or next general election, and you’d have to get the governor to order a special election.”

If King took the position, she’d be the city’s second female mayor. The only woman to be elected mayor of Schenectady is Karen Johnson, who is now a county legislator. She held the top city post from 1984-91.

Today’s ceremony will begin with Stratton’s swearing in at 1 p.m. Then council members King, Denise Brucker and Joseph Allen will be sworn in, along with newly elected Councilman Thomas Della Sala. All five officials to be sworn in are Democrats; there are no Republicans on the council.

Stratton won re-election this year with 71 percent of the vote, the largest percentage received by any Schenectady mayor since the city returned to the strong-mayor form of government in 1978. Among the council members, King was the top vote-getter, with newcomer Della Sala coming in second.

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