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Why was an open Syracuse Common Council seat filled so quickly?

Joe Nicoletti 2009 Campaign
A still photo from a Joe Nicoletti campaign video in 2009.

Some Syracuse Common Councilors are upset that the council voted to appoint former Councilor Joe Nicoletti to fill the position vacated by Pam Hunter after she was elected to the Assembly. They say there was not enough vetting of other candidates.

The Common Council voted 5-3 to appoint Nicoletti, who previously served on the council from 1978 to 1991. He unsuccessfully ran against Stephanie Miner in a primary for mayor in 2009. 

Councilor Helen Hudson opposed Nicoletti’s appointment, not because she has anything against him.

“I think that Councilor Hunter had only been gone, less than a week," Hudson said. "What was the hurry to fill that seat, without going through and looking at all of the qualified candidates? Because there are a lot of qualified candidates out there.”

Hudson said those candidates included Tim Rudd, Latoya Allen and Frank Cetera, all of whom ran for office this year and lost.

"I’m praying to God that at some point, the doors will open for some of these younger folks out here," Hudson said. "I’m hoping they’re not discouraged because I really did try my best to make sure this was an open, transparent process.”

Hudson said she was blindsided last Monday when Nicoletti’s name came up for a vote. She said she was under the impression that they were going to further narrow down the list of potential candidates.

But Councilor Kathleen Joy, who voted for Nicoletti, said Common Council President Van Robinson said that if there was consensus on a particular candidate, they could vote as early as last Monday.

“The city charter states very clearly that it is the sitting council under which the vacancy occurred, is the one that is tasked with filling that seat," Joy said. "It could not have waited until January as some wanted.”

Joy said she voted for Nicoletti based on his knowledge and experience on the council.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.