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Schenectady To See Two Vacancies On City Council

Schenectady City Hall
Lucas Willard
Schenectady City Hall

A Schenectady City Councilor’s resignation will create a second vacancy on the legislative body in the coming weeks.

Earlier this month, Schenectady Democratic City Councilor Leesa Perazzo announced that she would soon step down from her position as she prepares for a move to Saratoga Springs.

This week, councilor Ed Kosiur announced that he too would be leaving his seat.

In a story first reported by the Daily Gazette, Kosiur announced he would leave his city council seat on January 23rd. Kosiur said in a statement it was honor to serve the community and that he would “look forward to continuing to volunteer in the community and also to enjoy my retirement years with my wife, children, and grandchildren.”

Kosiur, who is 65, will also depart a position as Assistant to Schenectady County’s Commissioner of Social Services for Youth Development.

Kosiur’s announcement comes two months after it was first reported that he was facing a pair of lawsuits from plaintiffs who allege he molested them in the 1970s. Kosiur has maintained his innocence. Kosiur did not return requests for comment from WAMC Wednesday.

The departures of Kosiur and Perazzo will require the Schenectady City Council to appoint interim members until next November, when residents will elect councilors to fill out the remainder of their terms. Combined with three other councilors who will be up for re-election, there will be five open seats on the ballot next year.

Perazzo previously told WAMC what she hopes for in a replacement.

“After 10 years, maybe a fresh perspective is a good thing. And I also see them as the best possible opportunity for the Democratic Party and city council to get a person of color in my seat. That is something I want said loud and clear,” said Perazzo.

The seven-member city council, held entirely by Democrats, has five white members.

“This is an opportunity. I have sat in those rooms for too long and watched good solid candidates with name recognition that ran on a minor party line and get pushed to the side and white person appointed instead,” said Perazzo.

Former city councilor Vince Riggi, an Independent who was the only non-Democrat on the council, says he has heard of the call for more diversity.

“Quite honestly, the biggest diversity I can see that’s needed on the council is different political party diversity, is what we need. It doesn’t have to be Republican, it could be Working Families, it could be Conservative. But everyone all from one party including the mayor is not good. It’s tough for checks and balances for sure.”

Democratic Mayor Gary McCarthy is in his third term.

Riggi says he’s not interested in running again, but said he wants to see new faces.
“So maybe the torch has to be passed to different people, but I want to see the different people – not the same old politicos come out there,” said Riggi.

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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