The top vote-getter in Tuesday’s City Council election kept one fact about himself hidden during the campaign.
Councilman-elect John Mootooveren told voters at forums he was employed by a company as an accountant. He said he couldn’t name the company because his employer didn’t want to get enmeshed in politics.
But he actually was working part-time as the manager of a West Indian produce distributor, he said when asked Thursday, two days after Democrats swept the City Council race.
Mootooveren’s last bookkeeping job was at Turner Construction, where he worked in the finance department. He is not a certified public accountant, he said Thursday.
Last summer, the company severed employment with him, according to the company.
Mootooveren signed a separation agreement that banned him from disclosing the details of the decision, he said. Company officials confirmed that.
“It’s not that I want to hide anything. Things happen, and we have to move on in life,” Mootooveren said.
But in the fall, he specifically told voters — and The Daily Gazette — he was employed at a large company as an accountant. On Thursday, he said his inaccurate description of his employment was not a big deal.
“It wouldn’t matter,” he said. “The message of my commitment to the people, that is what is important. That is what matters. My focus is getting the job done for the people in Schenectady.”
He is also looking for work, either in finance or computer programming, he said.
One of his running mates, Councilman Carl Erikson, said he had heard “rumors” of Mootooveren’s unemployment during the campaign. But he defended Mootooveren’s decision to not tell the public about it.
“If you’re running for a full-time political job, it’s all out there,” he said. “But for us? He has the right to do what he wants.”
Besides, he said, Mootooveren and Turner separated during the campaign.
“Is he obligated to call and say ‘Stop the presses?’ ” Erikson asked. “He might have been nervous — is that going to be a distraction? Is that going to hurt me?”
Republican candidate Joseph Lazzari, who came in fourth in the race for the three seats on the council, was stunned by the news Thursday.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he said, before adding he liked Mootooveren.
“I found him to be a very nice person. I thought he was honest,” Lazzari said. “What that guy did was not right. That’s almost like lying on a job application. If the Democrats had any integrity, they should remove him from that post.”