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Politics and Government
Coverage from WRVO Public Media on the 2015 election including: races in Syracuse and other parts of central New York, the Southern Tier, Watertown and the North Country, and more.Listen to WRVO online, or catch up on regional political news and more by following the WRVO news department on Twitter.

Scriba moving to fire newly elected official

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Not even a week into the job and officials in the town of Scriba are already trying to fire the new superintendent of highways.

Superintendent Mike Barry was arrested in July 2015, registering a blood alcohol content of .14, his second DWI charge in recent years. Then in November, Barry was elected as the town's next superintendent of highways in Scriba. Scriba town Supervisor Ken Burdick said that only happened because the town was unaware of the charge until after the election.

"The town board feels that he basically duped the voters by keeping it a secret," Burdick said.
 
Burdick wants to replace him, in part, because he believes the superintendent of highways should have a drivers license, which Barry has surrendered and could lose if he's convicted. In order for that to happen, the superintendent job must be changed from an elected position to an appointed one. That can only be done through a referendum, which the Scriba town board has approved and scheduled for February.

"This is a process that we’re using to, basically, right the ship," Burdick said. "We want the ship back up the way it's supposed to be."

Barry's court case has not been heard yet. Scriba resident Renee Lagoe said it is wrong for the city to act before the ruling.

"They’re just assuming worst case scenario," Lagoe said. "But, it still doesn’t matter because he doesn’t need his license to do the job."

According to Burdick, there is no qualification for the job that requires a driver's or commercial driver's license. However, Burdick said that doesn't change his opinion on the matter.

"I honestly don’t know how a highway superintendent can do this [job] without the ability to police these roads himself," Burdick said.

Lagoe plans on voting no in the referendum because she does not want to give away her right to elect the superintendent position.

"We all voted him in and now they’re saying, well, you know, too bad. We’re going to change that rule," Lagoe said. "We don’t want him there so we’re going to appoint someone. Well, who’s he going to appoint? Is he going to appoint Mr. Myers that we voted out? He can appoint anyone he wants. We have no say in that," Lagoe said. 

Burdick said he will restore the town's ability to elect the position again if Scriba approves the February referendum.

"They voted him in. They have a choice now, they can vote him out," Burdick said. "They’re not going to lose their vote."

Burdick said he would replace Barry and then immediately start the process to make the job an elected position again by putting the question on the ballot in November.