Schenectady County

Schenectady mayor names Jordan a Patroon

The woman who stood at Mayor Brian U. Stratton’s side for seven years at City Hall was given the cit

The woman who stood at Mayor Brian U. Stratton’s side for seven years at City Hall was given the city’s highest honor on Thursday.

In one of Stratton’s last official actions, he named city Director of Operations Sharon Jordan a Patroon.

“She has been the glue that has held City Hall together in my absence,” Stratton said in a surprise presentation to his chief of staff.

As he told her that he was naming her a Patroon, she teared up.

“Oh my goodness,” she said. “I can’t tell you how much this means to me.”

Stratton said Jordan’s reliability freed him to leave the city to lobby for state legislation and federal funds to help Schenectady.

“She is the reason I could travel,” he said. “I have never taken the responsibility of awarding our Patroon lightly. I can’t think of someone who deserves it more.”

Jordan quickly disagreed, taking on her advisory role once more.

“You are only as good as your staff, and all of you deserve a debt of gratitude,” she said to the assembled city employees, who had gathered for the mayor’s farewell party. His last day is April 3.

Stratton said Jordan should be considered an integral part of his legacy.

many stories

“There are too many stories to tell of all the things we’ve done to turn this place around,” he said.

He shared a knowing smile with her as he added, “Remember the first days, when we were trying to figure out how to do this?”

Jordan said she recalled it well — a month of working in City Hall’s basement, before Stratton took office, as they searched through files and began to realize that the city’s finances were in shambles.

“Every time we turned over something, it was a new surprise,” she said. “We didn’t understand how dire the finances were.”

She told Stratton to get help — and lots of it.

“I said we’ve really got to take the advice of everyone we can,” she said. “And we did.”

They ended up recruiting two financial experts to help guide the city out of a potential $10 million deficit.

Jordan had been Stratton’s campaign manager. After he was elected, she decided to stay on for six months to help. Seven years later, she’s still there.

Stratton said she was invaluable all along.

“Almost every speech I gave, I bounced off her,” he said. “Our instincts are very similar. If anything, she fine-tuned what my sense already was.”

prosecuting cops

When he decided to try to fire police officers accused of crimes and misconduct, despite steadfast opposition from the police union, he talked it over with her.

“It was so new and far removed from anything I’d done here,” he said. “I said to her, this is what I feel, what do you think? She has a really good sense for what people are feeling.”

She told him the public would support him. He fought for two years and succeeded in firing all of the accused officers.

Jordan even got some say in Stratton’s conversation with President Barack Obama last month. Stratton unexpectedly got to ride with Obama on the presidential helicopter, giving him 15 minutes with the president.

“She gave me some good ideas of what to talk about,” Stratton said. He had ideas too — and he managed to fit all of them into the time slot.

“I called her from Air Force One to tell her that,” he said with a laugh. “You can’t be in this office, with all the hours we put in here, without developing a close friendship.”

As chief of staff, Jordan knows about almost everything that happens in City Hall — so she said she was shocked that he managed to keep her Patroon award a secret.

“I know about everything!” she said. “I’m just stunned. I thought he was just going to give me a proclamation.”

But she sighed as she looked at the wooden plaque.

“It’s kind of bittersweet, though,” she said. “Because the mayor’s leaving.”

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