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Syracuse councilor absent 4 months loses committee position, could return this week

Ryan Delaney
WRVO Public Media File Photo
Councilor Chad Ryan in 2015.

Syracuse Common Councilor Chad Ryan has been absent from the council for four months because of what's described as a medical issue. Ryan was recently removed as the chair of the council’s public works committee.

On Monday, the council approved the purchase of 17,000 street lights from National Grid for $38 million. The agenda item was on behalf of the Department of Public Works. Council President Helen Hudson said she needed council oversight of it and with Ryan gone she asked Councilor-at-Large Michael Greene to handle it.

“It entails somebody looking very closely at what's coming out of DPW, working with the commissioner of DPW so we'll have a real clear understanding, before we get to that table, about what's coming before us," Hudson said. "All I’m doing is trying to ensure that I do my civic duty to the constituents to have oversight over the department."

Credit Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media
WRVO Public Media
Councilor Chad Ryan's chair has been empty for four months.

Ryan has been out for a medical issue and has not returned emails or phone calls.

But Democratic majority leader and Councilor-at-Large Steven Thompson said Ryan should be back by the end of the week. Thompson said he has been in contact with Ryan's relatives and has kept the council informed. He has also been assisting with any concerns or complaints from Ryan's constituents and said Ryan's district has not been neglected.

Thompson said there has not been any discussion by the whole council of removing Ryan from office.

But according to the city’s charter, it is possible. The council could declare Ryan’s seat vacant by reason of absence for two consecutive months or more. No expulsion or vacancy could be declared unless there were a three-fourths vote by the council, and the councilor would get the opportunity to defend himself.

Thompson said councilors do not consider Ryan's seat vacant.

City Clerk John Companas said although it has been attempted once before, no one has been removed from the council in this way.

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.