Ogdensburg lawmakers urged to fill vacant council seat before deadline

Published: Jul. 25, 2023 at 4:42 PM EDT
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OGDENSBURG, New York (WWNY) - Interim City Manager Andrea Smith is encouraging Ogdensburg lawmakers to hold a special meeting Wednesday, which is the deadline to fill a vacant seat on city council.

Mayoral candidate Michael Tooley was the sole candidate left Monday night as Ogdensburg City Council met to fill in a vacant councillor seat once held by Nicole Kennedy.

Councillors took 20 votes, each ending in a tie. Three votes for Tooley. Three votes for Robert Edie.

Edie eventually withdrew his name, thinking it would help break the tie. It didn’t.

“I would have looked forward to the appointment and I’m disappointed it didn’t happen,” said Tooley.

With Tooley the only name left, Mayor Mike Skelly and Councillor Steve Fisher abstained from voting. Councillor Bill Dillabough voted no.

The seat remains vacant.

“It was disappointing to me that the three - the mayor and the two councillors who had been supporting Mr. Edie - would not then support me in honor of the mandates of the city charter which says the city council shall appoint someone to fill the vacancy within 30 days,” said Tooley.

The city reaches that deadline on Wednesday. Interim City Manager Andrea Smith is encouraging council to meet Wednesday.

“The council will still have the opportunity to have a special meeting and vote on the candidates again, so council will be presented with the opportunity to do that. A call for a special meeting does require 24-hour notice, so we will have to work with them today (Tuesday) to see if there’s an appetite to do that, if there’s availability to do that,” she said.

Mayor Skelly and councillors Dillabough and Fisher declined to comment on why they turned away Tooley.

Meanwhile, Councillor Dan Skamperle has supported Tooley the whole time.

“He’s outspoken on many issues. Sometimes agreeing, sometimes disagreeing council. He’s a really good man with numbers and because he’s running for mayor unopposed, I thought that it would be good to get him in this budget process,” he said.

Smith says if council doesn’t hold a special meeting by Wednesday night and come to an agreement, New York state may have to decide who fills the seat. But Smith admits, in these uncharted waters, the city attorney needs to determine where things go from here.