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Plattsburgh Common Council holds organizational meeting

Jacob Avery (standing, left) and David Monette (standing, center) are sworn in by Mayor Chris Rosenquest (standing, right)
Pat Bradley
Jacob Avery (standing, left) and David Monette (standing, center) are sworn in by Mayor Chris Rosenquest (standing, right)

On the heels of November’s elections, the Plattsburgh Common Council held its organizational meeting Thursday night, swearing in two new city councilors and choosing a new mayor pro-tem.

Ward 2 Democrat Jacob Avery and Ward 5 Democrat David Monette were sworn in by Democratic Mayor Chris Rosenquest as the first order of business.

“Please raise your right hand and repeat after me: I do solemnly swear.”

“I do solemnly swear," both Avery and Monette continued, "that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the constitution of the State of New York and I will faithfully execute the duties of councilor of the city of Plattsburgh, New York according to the best of my ability.”

“Congratulations and welcome aboard councilors," said Rosenquest. "Happy to have you on.”

“Thank you so much. Thank you," replied the new councilors.

Most of the agenda for the organizational meeting was procedural with items such as approving the yearly tax warrant, adopting the annual Common Council rules, establishing councilor-department liaisons and designating the city’s official bank. Councilors also unanimously chose Ward 6 Democrat Jeff Moore as Mayor Pro Tem.

Moore was nominated for the position by new councilor Avery, who later explained why he felt Moore was the best choice.

“I’ve had conversations with many councilors," said Avery. "I think Councilor Moore is the most qualified on the council and that’s not going against anybody on the council. Jeff has been wonderful on the council in general and really has a great view of the city and the bigger picture. He’s got the longevity as well. I feel very much from the conversations I was having Jeff was the best person, Councilor Moore was the best person.”

Councilor Moore once served as Mayor of Champlain, a village north of Plattsburgh on the U.S.-Canada border. Moore hopes he can build unity on the council.

“I think things became somewhat fractured by times and I don’t think that’s conducive to a good council," said Moore. "So hopefully we’ll be all on the same page or at least have a good consensus of what people want to do moving forward.”

Avery and Monette talked about becoming councilors following the meeting. Avery wants to focus on transparency.

“The number one thing on my end, what I campaigned on, is being more transparent in Ward 2," said Avery. "But just being more open and sharing the ideas of where we’re coming from with our agenda items and what we’re voting on. Dave (Monette) and I have toured all the departments together for the most part and really learning a lot quick. It’s a huge learning curve. There’s a lot to be done and some positive change coming our way.”

Monette plans to focus on fiscal issues.

“I’m very conscious about the budgets and things of that nature," noted Monette. "So to me making sure that we don’t spend more than we’re taking in. But I’m just really positive about the trajectory of the city for the next year. I’m really happy about it.”

The council is expected to review potential charter changes this year. Avery has been appointed to a committee studying a potential change to a council-city manager form of government. Avery notes his background is in public administration.

“I’ve been vocal about a city manager for some time now and I see a lot of value in that," stated Avery. "The mayor has appointed me to that committee. I’m looking forward to serving on that and learning more and if it’s the best thing for the city of Plattsburgh. I think it very well could be if it’s done the right way.”

There is also a proposal to give councilors $5,000 raises. Both new councilors say it’s warranted. Monette says the way councilors get raises needs to be more consistent.

“It should definitely be something that’s an incremental approach rather than, you know the last time that there was a raise was what 20 years ago or something crazy like that? If you want to keep people wanting to be councilors and wanting to do this there’s an aspect of you’re it this for the public good obviously," Monette said. "But it’s a lot of work and so you should be compensated for that. So I’ve got nothing wrong with that. I just think that it should definitely be like an incremental sort of thing. Something tied to inflation, I don’t know. Something so that it’s not a hit all at once and people say well, wait a minute.”

The Clinton County Legislature also held its organizational meeting Thursday, reelecting Area 3 Republican Mark Henry as chair.

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