Schenectady County

Schenectady council vacancy vote remains undone

The City Council took an informal vote Tuesday to appoint John Mootooveren to fill the vacant counci

The City Council took an informal vote Tuesday to appoint John Mootooveren to fill the vacant council seat.

The Democrat got the support of three council members, the bare minimum needed. His success is not assured: a 3-3 vote will keep the seat vacant.

The full council will vote Monday. Two council members are expected to vote for another Democrat, Marion Porterfield, but the intentions of the final councilman are unknown.

During a lengthy closed-door meeting by the council’s three-member Government Efficiency Committee, supporters for Mootooveren and Porterfield gathered outside to hold quiet victory and consolation parties.

Separated by only a few dozen feet, supporters encircled each candidate. Both sides got so loud that Clerk Eileen Versaci was sent out to tell them to quiet down.

Mootooveren’s supporters were confident he had won. So was Mootooveren.

“I think the council are doing the right thing,” he said in his somewhat-imperfect English. “The city needs someone like me. I bring to the city the financial background.”

Mootooveren, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Guyana, ran for the council last fall but fell just short of winning.

Some said he should get the seat because thousands voted for him. Others said the voters had spoken and advocated for a different candidate: Porterfield, the Weed and Seed coordinator.

She had been the Democratic Committee’s alternate and was endorsed to fill a vacant seat if the Democrats swept the council and the mayoral races. That didn’t happen: Vince Riggi, who was endorsed by Republicans and the Alliance Party, won a council seat.

But Porterfield’s supporters showed up in force at council meetings, urging the council to choose her. They were bitterly disappointed Tuesday.

Porterfield said council members hadn’t spoken with her.

“I haven’t been part of the process,” she said.

She added that she was suspicious about the Democrats’ willingness to handle this appointment in public. All other recent appointments, going back more than 15 years, have been decided privately. Riggi insisted this one be public, but Porterfield said the five Democrats didn’t have to go along with Riggi, an independent.

“It certainly makes me wonder,” she said.

She will run for the seat this fall, she said, adding that she expects a primary.

She described her best trait as community organizing and said she could help the council reach out to neighborhoods.

Three council members sitting on the committee — council President Denise Brucker and members Leesa Perazzo and Carl Erikson — voted Tuesday for Mootooveren.

The other three council members could not vote because they were not on the committee that considered the issue, though they could offer names for the vote. Riggi had nominated retired city police officer Joseph Lazzari, but no one seconded. No other names were proposed.

At Monday’s council meeting, the entire council will vote. A candidate can be appointed only by a majority vote.

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