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After past confusion, criticism, Syracuse council sets new rules when filling vacancies

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News (file photo)
The Syracuse Common Council chambers.

The Syracuse Common Council has changed the way it will select a new councilor when there is a vacancy. The process has caused confusion with councilors and applicants in the past, with vacancies sometimes sitting open for months. 

In the beginning of 2019, Councilor Susan Boyle stepped down to take a job with Onondaga County. A majority of the Democratic councilors decided that they would replace her with whoever the Onondaga County Democratic Committee selected as their candidate to run for the seat. That upset the council’s only Republican, Joe Carni, who said the process did not allow for members from other parties to participate. Traditionally, the council solicited resumes and held interviews before selecting someone. Now, that tradition has been added into the council’s rules and procedures. Councilor-at-Large Michael Greene wrote the new rules. 

“What this does is creates a timeline,” Greene said. “It creates a process for people submitting their resume and then it creates an interview process and then it creates a timeline by which the vacancy will be filled.”

He said it will provide more clarity on how to select a candidate to fill a vacancy. Anyone who wants will be able to submit a resume, which will be posted on the city’s website. Two finalists will participate in an interview with the council, open to the public, before a vote is scheduled. A simple majority is still, all that’s needed to fill the seat.    

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.