A handful of firsts will occur this week around the Capital Region.
At the start of the New Year, the first female mayor of Albany will be sworn in, Saratoga County’s first new sheriff in more than 40 years will take office, the first-ever Guyanese-American will begin a term on Schenectady’s City Council and Montgomery County will begin its first year under a new form of government.
Albany is going to kick off a year of two “firsts” Wednesday, with the 10:30 a.m. swearing-in of Albany Mayor-elect Kathy Sheehan at Kiernan Plaza, 575 Broadway. Sheehan is not only the first female mayor; she is the capital city’s first new mayor in two decades. She succeeds Jerry Jennings, a Democrat who served five terms, beginning in 1994.
Her swearing-in ceremony will occur alongside ceremonies for the Albany Common Council, auditor and treasurer. A reception will be held immediately following the inauguration at the Albany Hilton from noon to 1:30 p.m. The event is open to the public, with free parking available at the Riverfront parking garage behind Kiernan Plaza.
Saratoga County is getting an early start on its inaugural ceremonies. Republican Michael Zurlo will be sworn in as the new county sheriff today at noon in the Paul Luther Auditorium at Mechanicville High School on Kniskern Avenue. He began his career with the Mechanicville Police Department and has worked in the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department for more than 30 years as a deputy, sergeant, senior criminal investigator and lieutenant.
It will be the first time in more than 40 years that Saratoga County has sworn in a new sheriff. Zurlo is succeeding James Bowen, the longest-tenured sheriff in New York state, with 41 years of service. State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Nolan is expected to administer the oath of office before hundreds of attendees.
In Schenectady, three people will be sworn in for new terms on the City Council, but only one is a fresh face. That newcomer, John Mootooveren, will be the first Guyanese-American on the council. He will join Democrat incumbents Carl Erikson and Marion Porterfield at a swearing-in ceremony at 11 a.m. Wednesday at City Hall.
Mootooveren came under fire almost immediately after his November election to the council when he admitted to lying about his job status during the campaign. He had said throughout the campaign that he was employed as an accountant at a company he couldn’t name because his employer didn’t want to be involved in politics. It turned out the company had actually severed employment with him the previous summer.
A failed Republican candidate for the council, Joseph Lazzari, said the Democrats should remove Mootooveren from his new position, but nothing ever came of the indiscretion.
Montgomery County is not only getting new faces; it’s getting a whole new government for the first time in more than two centuries.
On Wednesday, the current board of 15 town and city ward supervisors will hand over power to a county executive and a nine-member legislature, of which seven of its members played no part in the longstanding form of government.
The new county executive, 32-year-old Matt Ossenfort, got a crash course recently in the problems awaiting the new form of government. He assembled a transitional committee of 25 area business, education and government leaders to help with the switch and is working to develop a vision for the next five or 10 years.
In 2014, Montgomery County will be represented by Martin Kelly, Thomas Quackenbush, Roy Dimond, Ryan Weitz, Terry Bieniek, John Duchessi, Barbara Wheeler, Joseph Isabel and Alexander Kuchis.
Other high-profile swearing-in ceremonies this week include one for Saratoga Springs Mayor-elect Joanne Yepsen, who succeeds Scott Johnson and becomes the city’s third female mayor. The inauguration ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Canfield Casino in Congress Park. U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, veterans and others will be in attendance.
Johnstown is also getting a new mayor Wednesday, with Democrat Michael Julius succeeding two-term incumbent Sarah Slingerland, who chose not to run for re-election.