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What you need to know for 04/23/2017

Parties weigh options on Schenectady council vacancy

Parties weigh options on Schenectady council vacancy

Councilman Carl Erikson surprised the Democrats Monday by suddenly announcing his resignation, leavi
Parties weigh options on Schenectady council vacancy
Carl Erikson holds his sons Max and Carl after being sworn into office in Schenectady on Jan. 1.
Photographer: Stacey Lauren-Kennedy

This was a bad week for Democratic Committee Chairman Richard Naylor to go on vacation.

Councilman Carl Erikson surprised the Democrats Monday by suddenly announcing his resignation, leaving the council to yet again find an appointee for a vacant seat.

Naylor, who would lead that process, is on vacation out of the area, said council President Margaret King.

He’s coming back today, and King is eagerly awaiting him.

“I’m guessing we’ll do what we did before: request résumés, interview people,” she said. “I honestly don’t know for sure.”

But she wants someone appointed to the seat quickly this time.

Erikson’s departure creates an awkward situation this fall: There are now two seats up for election, but only two people running — one Democrat and one Republican.

If either party wants to get another name onto the ballot, they must file a certificate of nomination by Sept. 10, said John Conklil, spokesman for the state Board of Elections.

The parties will only have to nominate someone, instead of also collecting hundreds of signatures as they are required to do during the normal nomination process, he said.

The Republicans are already canvassing the candidates they were lining up for next year. They believe one of those candidates will agree to run this year.

For them, it could be easy to come to agreement. But the Democrats want to nominate the person that the City Council appoints — which means waiting for the council to agree on someone.

In the past, that’s taken many months.

King is hoping it will go faster this time.

“We spent so long with a vacancy before, and I just don’t want us to go through that again,” she said, adding with a sigh, “It was nice enjoying the full complement.”

It wasn’t for long.

It’s only been five months since the last vacancy. The last time the council had a full complement for an entire year was 2011.

Then-member Gary McCarthy won the mayoral election. Deciding who should replace him took months, and led the council to appoint Marion Porterfield. Shortly thereafter, Councilwoman Barbara Blanchard had a stroke and could not return for the 16 remaining months of her term.

Shortly after the election was held to fill her seat when her term expired, Councilwoman Denise Brucker resigned to move to Niskayuna.

So many seats have been first filled through midyear appointments that less than half members of the council won their first seat in an election.

Council President King, council members Ed Kosiur and Porterfield and just-resigned memberErikson were originally appointees — although in King’s case it was in 2006.

Only council members Leesa Perazzo, Vince Riggi and John Mootooveren had to win an election to get their seat.

King is hoping to have a new appointee on the council by September. But the Democrats have tapped their bench so often lately that she doesn’t have a short list.

“We’ll get somebody. I just don’t know who,” she said, adding that she’s heard some people have expressed interest.

Mayor McCarthy said he expected the seat will generate much interest among up-and-coming Democrats.

“We have a lot of good things going on, and that creates interest,” he said. “We’ll have somebody.”

Republican Committee Chairman Michael Cuevas is also confident he’ll have a second candidate. (The Democrats are already running Councilman Kosiur, while the Republicans are running Joseph Kelleher.)

Alliance Party Chairman Roger Hull said his party will also endorse a second council candidate this fall. The Alliance already endorsed Kelleher.

“We will have candidates any time there’s a position open,” he said.

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