When I was elected to the Schenectady City Council in 2011, I had the help, support and wisdom of so many people in the City I love.
Over my time in government, those relationships have grown and become richer.
I’m grateful for that.
My campaign slogan was For The Love Of Schenectady and I meant every word of it.
I’ve worked in those nine years to help all the people, nonprofit groups and businesses in the place we call home.
I didn’t always succeed, but I tried to be an open, honest, direct and – most important – independent voice on the City Council.
I’m proud of that.
But now happy developments in my personal life are taking me away.
As you can imagine, this is for me wonderful and bittersweet at the same time.
Before I go, I want to say just a few words about how Schenectady is governed.
The City Council matters because its decisions affect so many aspects of our daily lives, from taxes to infrastructure to business development to snow removal and much else besides.
In my time, I focused like a laser beam on every line of every budget we considered.
I hope whoever sits in my chair has that same attention to detail because that is the quintessence of the job.
It is what the people of our city have a right to expect.
In my near decade in office, I’ve worked with hundreds of people of good faith who struggle to improve lives and wellbeing of our residents.
But also in that time, I was labeled an “insurgent” and a “maverick” because I was unwilling to follow the sometimes silly dictates of my party.
I was personally demeaned, with one male colleague dismissively calling me “young lady.”
Others practiced outright legislative thuggery.
Politics is a rough and tumble affair, but there’s a difference between good governance and bad behavior by grownups who should know better.
But these are nits. The larger issues are what matter.
Blind conformity is the enemy of all good practices.
Too often, the Democratic Party of Schenectady rules over good sense and progress.
Too often, petty squabbles impede the right thing.
Too often, pet projects have gotten in the way of more urgent matters.
Conformity is not in the interest of residents of Schenectady.
I urge that the City Council appoints a person of color to replace me.
Right now, the council doesn’t properly represent Schenectady’s diverse population. Another councilperson of color will help address this glaring inequity.
Our city boasts strong voices, people who are already making a mark.
Carl Williams, Will Rivas, Omar McGill, Damonni Farley, Rosa Rivera and many others come to mind.
I recommend listening to the council meetings, which occur every Monday evening, as a good way to decide which members are most compatible with your interests.
Good governance requires participation, especially at the city level.
Get involved, attend or listen to the meetings, know the issues, and even run for office.
There are a lot of great leaders in Schenectady.
Maybe you’re one of them.
I especially want to single out Schenectady City Counselor Marian Porterfield.
She exemplifies everything a good legislator should be and her work on the counsel is of the highest quality and integrity.
I am grateful to have served with her, and I am proud to call her my friend.
In parting, I want to say thank you to everybody I’ve encountered in my time in office.
I hope I was able to help.
I’ll miss you very much and I’ll never forget the kindness you extended to me.
Leesa Perazzo is an outgoing member of the Schenectady City Council.