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Gloversville Residents To Vote On Charter Change In November

City Of Gloversville

The Gloversville Common Council Tuesday approved a measure that would put the issue of charter change before voters this November.

For the past several weeks, city government has debated the issue of changing the city’s long-standing strong-mayor structure to a city manager form of government. The city has held its current charter since 1890.

The proposed change is from First Ward City Councilor Robin Wentworth. Wentworth previously told WAMC there has always been a need for more oversight in city hall.

“The city is a $15 million business, it needs to be run by someone who has business experience who can be there day-to-day, 40 hours a week – not just pop in when it’s convenient,” said Wentworth.

Mayor Dayton King, now in his second term, sees it differently. He thinks the proposal is all politics.

“She wants to have more power on the Common Council. Right now we have a strong-mayor form of government. I think there’s some resentment, and jealousy if you will, but I think it’s for all the wrong reasons,” said King.

Tuesday’s vote, four councilors supported the measure to put the issue before voters on election day. Two dissented, with one member absent.

Sixth Ward councilor Wrandy Siarkowski said he’s willing to change government if it will help improve the city’s finances.

“We’ve run a mayoral system for years and years, and we don’t seem to be making any inroads on improving our finances, so I think this is a prudent way to try and improve the finances within the city.”

Siarkowski said he wants to hold several public forums where residents can ask local city managers about their jobs.

“It’s not just cut and dried, people have questions, and there’s a lot of misinformation out there, and I believe the public would be well advised to come to these forums and find out a little bit about the city manager form of government,” said Siarkowski.

Fifth Ward councilor Jay Zarelli also voted in favor of the measure. While charter change has been a divisive issue, Zarelli believes if voters do vote for change, it could bring all sides together.

“While a charter commission would be formed if it passed, it would bring the mayor into the council as a voting member, and early signs point to it going down that road. So I think it would work all the way around for everybody,” said Zarelli.

Second Ward councilor Arthur Simonds voted against the measure. He believes that city government with a council-elected manager would give too much power to a few individuals in the Fulton County city of about 15,000.

"As a taxpayer, I would rather choose my own CEO. Good, better, and different, at least I had that opportunity," said Simonds.

Simonds said he believes the issue of charter change to be reflective of conflict between the mayor and the council, “as opposed to what’s best for the city.”

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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