SCHENECTADY — The city Democrats’ executive committee has endorsed Carl Williams and Haileab Samuel from among seven candidates for the two vacant seats on the Schenectady City Council.
The committee, which met and interviewed candidates Saturday morning, also endorsed incumbent City Council members John Mootooveren, Marion Porterfield and Karen Zalewski-Wildzunas for new four-year terms in November.
Both Williams and Samuel are Black, as is Porterfield. City Democratic Chairman Tom Bellick said he was pleased the Democrats will be putting forward such a diverse group of candidates this year.
“We have a very talented group of candidates, the most diverse ever,” Bellick said. “We have women and people of color, young people as candidates.”
He said the committee was looking for diversity, as well as to put the best candidates forward. Potentially, the seven-member council could include three Black members as well as Mootooveren, the council president, who is Guyanese.
Williams is an Air National Guard Reserve member with a background in health care administration. He also serves as vice-chairman of the city’s Police Civilian Review Board and is on the steering committee helping the city comply with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s police reform initiative.
Samuel is CEO of Schenectady-based tech company [s]Cube Inc., which does consulting on computer communication and other high-tech issues for corporate clients. Samuel was previously an executive at General Electric Global Research and at Xerox Corp’s litigation services division.
Samuel and Williams would be running for the city seats given up this month by Leesa Perazzo and Ed Kosiur. Bellick said the committee is recommending them for the special two-year elections to be held this November. Whether to appoint them to the vacancies in the meantime is a separate decision for the City Council to make.
The other candidates interviewed on Saturday were Therese McCalmon, William Rivas, Doreen DiToro, Joe Aragosa, and Mohamed Hafez.
McCalmon and Rivas, at least, have talked about possibly running in a primary, and Bellick acknowledged a primary is a possibility — but he praised all the people who were interviewed collectively.
“It was a very talented field, we had some very good people come in,” he said. “I’m glad they want to get involved.”