GLOVERSVILLE – City residents won’t get a chance in the Nov. 4 general election to vote on either citywide council elections or a city-manager type of government.
Proposals regarding both died after Common Council action Tuesday.
Mayor Dayton King afterward said the denials “didn’t surprise me.”
“I think it’s really terrible for the voters in Gloversville,” King said.
The mayor and council members put forth alternative ways to run city government on the agenda during the spring and summer. The issues culminated with two local laws on the agenda Tuesday night.
The council held a hearing Tuesday regarding the proposed law to revise the City Charter to allow citywide elections for all members of the council. Under the citywide election proposal favored by the mayor, the top vote-getters throughout the city would take seats on the council, regardless of which ward they live in. Currently, voters in each ward elect a council member, and all city voters elect the councilman-at-large and mayor.
King, who said he wanted “qualified candidates for all positions,” endorsed the proposal, which would have gone to a public vote in November if the council approved it.
“I would encourage you to allow the voters to speak,” the mayor urged the council.
But the council voted 5-0 against it. Two members of the council – Councilman-at-Large James Robinson and 3rd Ward Supervisor Stephen Mahoney – were absent.
The council also voted 4-1 to override King’s prior veto of a previously established local law to revise the City Charter to allow a city manager form of government. Only 2nd Ward Councilman Arthur Simonds voted against overriding the veto, but the council didn’t have enough votes to override it, so the proposal won’t go to a public referendum. The council would have needed one more vote in favor of the override.
In a July 22 vote, the council sent the proposal to establish a city-manager form of government to voters in the general election. Under the city-manager form of government, a council-appointed manager would be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the city. Currently, the mayor handles many of those duties. Under the proposal, the mayor would be a member of the council and preside at meetings.
Sixth Ward Councilman Wrandy Siarkowski said the citywide election and the city manager proposals should be brought back to the committee level for more information and discussion. He thought citywide elections should be shelved Tuesday because people outside his ward expressed displeasure, preferring to keep their “neighborhood” council person.
“This was just thrown at us,” said 4th Ward Councilwoman Ellen Anadio. “It was brought up in May. This has not even [been] researched. I have yet to find someone who is for this,”
Fifth Ward Councilman Jay Zarrelli said he didn’t like the way citywide elections was put forth through “Beltway politics.”
“I’ve had overwhelming calls against it,” he said.
Several people spoke at the public hearing about the citywide council elections.
During the hearing, former Councilman Lance M. Gundersen Sr., of Monroe Street, said Gloversville “needs to avoid making the regressive at-large election mistake.”
“I don’t want someone from another ward representing me,” said Marilyn Cornell of Northern Terrace.
Ron Briggs of Third Street said the citywide election idea is an “ill-conceived plan.”
Rick Bedell of Spruce Street alleged “threats, coercion and blackmail” brought this “monster of an idea” to the council agenda.
“Bad ideas don’t have a life of their own, so they’re given one,” he said.
Former Councilman Michael Rose of West Fulton Street said he is concerned about the proposed legislation for citywide elections, but he said he likes the city manager idea. He claimed the citywide elections idea was a “knee-jerk reaction” by the King administration to the city manager proposal.
During discussion about the city manager idea, Anadio said the issue was “well-researched” and Zarrelli called the proposal a “positive way” to move the city forward.
“This isn’t something that was just a shot in the dark,” said 1st Ward Councilwoman Robin Wentworth.
She said the New York State Association of City Managers offered to help out with printed materials and public forums before the referendum.
But after the council failed to override the mayor’s veto, the banter in the chambers briefly turned into political sniping.
King looked directly at the council and said he received 65 percent of the vote to re-elect him, which he said means the city has confidence in him.
Wentworth shot back that only 12 percent of registered voters came out to vote for him.
“I would not sit up there and brag,” she told the mayor.