With only one Democrat left in the running for the open Schenectady City Council seat, council members are beginning to discuss finally filling it.
The seat will be filled officially on Jan. 1, but the council can appoint someone to serve at any time until then.
For a few weeks, it looked as though they would leave it vacant, after council members split 3-3 on a vote between the two Democrats who wanted the seat. Then the City Democratic Committee also split and decided not to endorse either.
It appeared that John Mootooveren and Marion Porterfield were heading for a highly divisive primary, with their respective ethnic groups — Guyanese and black — joining the fight. Then, this week, Mootooveren dropped out. He gave no reason, but the committee chairman said he wanted “unity.”
That opens a path for Porterfield to be appointed to the vacant council seat, which one council member said could happen as soon as April 2.
“How can we not do it?” said Councilwoman Barbara Blanchard.
The council can’t vote on it at Monday’s meeting unless every member agrees to add it to the agenda — a move the one non-Democrat is unlikely to support. The next council session is April 2.
Blanchard supported Porterfield in the last vote and said she will vote for her again.
Council President Denise Brucker, who supported Mootooveren, did not return calls seeking comment.
Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo, who also supported Mootooveren, said she could see no negatives in appointing Porterfield now. But she said she wanted to speak to the rest of the council before publicly stating whether she would vote for Porterfield. She wants to make sure the council is “as unified as possible” on the issue, she said.
“As I said all along, they’re both great candidates,” she added. “We still have a good, community-minded person.”
City Democratic Committee Chairman Richard Naylor said the council should appoint Porterfield, which would give her a half-year of incumbency before running for election. Incumbents generally have an advantage in an election.
Blanchard argued that it would also help the council.
“She could help with the work,” Blanchard said. “She would bring a new perspective to the council. And that’s what I was looking for.”
There’s still no word on who will run against Porterfield. Alliance Party founder Roger Hull said Friday that his party will run a candidate, but gave no date for an announcement.
Even without the Alliance Party, Porterfield might have some competition: Democratic ward leader Robert Sanders, who has often been critical of his party’s actions, is advertising a fundraiser to support a run for council.
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette: