GLOVERSVILLE -- Members of the Gloversville Common Council said on Wednesday they are ready to move the city forward by appointing Councilman-at-Large Vince DeSantis as acting mayor.
Former Mayor Dayton King's decision to resign Wednesday -- as part of a plea deal related to his illegal use of the city's postage meter -- has left the city temporarily without a mayor.
Gloversville's City Charter does not have a formal succession clause. The council, by a majority vote, can choose any elected member to serve as acting mayor until a special election in November determines who will serve the remaining two years of King's third term.
DeSantis, a Democrat who ran for re-election in 2017 as a member of the "Gloversville Party," said he would like the job of acting mayor for 2019, if the council decides to choose him.
"I would like to do it," he said.
The party makeup of Gloversville's Common Council is more complex than the Republican/Democrat breakdown in most cities, due to the "Gloversville Party" banner under which DeSantis, 1st Ward Councilwoman Marcia Weiss, 3rd Ward Councilwoman Elizabeth "Betsy" Bachelor and 4th Ward Councilman Steven Smith have run. At least several of them are registered Democrats.
Second Ward Councilman Arthur Simonds, 5th Ward Councilman Jay Zarrelli and 6th Ward Councilman Wrandy Siarkowski, all Republicans, each said they would either support or at least not oppose DeSantis for the job of acting mayor.
Siarkowski, who ran against DeSantis for councilman-at-large and lost in 2017, said he believes the council is technically made up of a majority of registered Republicans. He said the council has at least 30 days to appoint one of its members to the acting mayor role, but he would be fine with DeSantis getting the job for 2019, if that's what the council decides at an organizational meeting slated for 6 p.m. Thursday.
King's resignation, after having been the first Gloversville mayor to win a third term in many decades, leaves politics in the city at a crossroads. Each member of the council offered an opinion on King's final days in office and where the city will go from here. Fourth Ward Councilman Steven Smith did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Councilman-at-large Vince DeSantis
DeSantis, who retired as Gloversville City Court judge in 2011, said he was disappointed in King's arrest and his ultimate guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge, but he said he's relieved the situation is over.
"It's been kind of unsettling with everything being in limbo and not knowing what's going to happen," he said. "It's been very difficult for the people who work for us -- our department heads, the staff and all of that. "[Thursday] night everything will be settled, one way or the other, and we'll be able to really hit the ground running and go full tilt again. Everybody feels energized that we will be back on track. We've done our best as council members, in our committees, to make sure everything is running well, and to make sure our initiatives for revitalization are back on track."
First Ward Councilwoman Marcia Weiss
Weiss voiced support for DeSantis.
"Vince has been working hard for the city for many, many years -- decades," she said. "He's got experience behind him, and he understands the city and he wants to move the city in the right direction."
Weiss said she was a strong supporter of King's, and she was saddened by the end of his tenure as mayor.
"Let me be really honest here. For me, it was a difficult thing [Wednesday] morning, watching all of this," she said. "I feel very disappointed. I feel let down. I just feel like I don't know what happened, as far as where his head went to think it was OK to do something like this."
Weiss said the Common Council will continue to support the King administration's policy of attempting to lower -- or at least not raise -- the city's property tax rate.
Gloversville's 2019 budget lowered the city tax rate to $19.95 per $1,000 of assessed property value, which, adjusted for inflation, was the lowest it has been since the late 1990s.
"The finances of the city are the responsibility of the council, so the council has made sure, either with the help of (King) or whoever is mayor ... that we will have the goal of keeping them going in a downward direction," she said.
Second Ward Councilman Arthur Simonds
Simonds said he will support DeSantis for acting mayor, and regardless of who is elected mayor in November, he believes the Common Council will not support any personnel increases or major spending increases for any of the city's departments.
Simonds said he supported King in 2017 and had hoped King had put past troubles behind him: feuds with former councilwoman Robin Wentworth, the city's fire department union, and his 2017 mayoral opponent William Rowback Jr., specifically.
3rd Ward Councilwoman Elizabeth "Betsy" Bachelor
Bachelor said she believes Gloversville will continue on a path toward growth and revitalization without King.
"I don't believe there will be any competition for the mayor," she said. "I don't presume to know that as a fact, but I think, over the course of the last few months, Vince has helped carry the load and has earned the right to serve as acting mayor."
Bachelor said she's seen comments on social media websites by many of King's detractors who wanted greater punishment for him. She said what King did was unacceptable and deserves the misdemeanor charge and his resignation. She said council members, her included, told a "victims-rights advocate" with the special prosecutor's office that the plea deal was acceptable.
"Nothing upsets me more than Facebook," she said. "There are people who would like to see (King) drawn and quartered and have, for various reasons, for a very long time, but I don't think that is a productive path for the city to follow. I don't believe that is the way civilized democracy should function, and I think what the city needed was for (King) to take responsibility and step aside, and that's all that's necessary.
"He has tarnished his reputation and put a black dot on eight years serving the city. It's too bad."
Fifth Ward Councilman Jay Zarrelli
Zarrelli said he doesn't believe party affiliation will play a role in the choice for acting mayor. He said he's going to support DeSantis, just as some Democrats supported appointing him to the council during his first term. He said the council deserves more credit for the city's improved financial position than King does, and he expects that trend to continue without him.
"I think we're all on the same page," he said. "I don't think King being gone will mean that much. He wasn't around during the day; he was doing his realty job. I consider myself a fiscal conservative, too, and that will continue without him."
Sixth Ward Councilman Wrandy Siarkowski
Siarkowski said he wasn't involved in the council's approval of King's plea deal, and he said he had no knowledge of it.
"I have been on the council -- this is my ninth year -- and I am not surprised, from what I've seen of Dayton King's actions. I think he felt he was untouchable, and he could do whatever he wanted to do, and it finally caught up to him," he said.