The Troy City Council has filled its vacancy.
Republican Councilor Mark McGrath resigned in February after he was heard using the “n-word” on an old voicemail published by the Times Union.
Council President Pro-Tempore Anasha Cummings says the majority put out a public call for candidates to represent the district for the remainder of McGrath's term. After interviewing all qualified candidates, the panel appointed Debra Garrett to fill the vacancy.
Garrett's appointment has elicited a mixed reception from officials. Garrett will take McGrath’s District 2 when she officially joins the council at Thursday night’s meeting. Democratic Mayor Patrick Madden: "It's good to have the vacancy filled. I know it was a very thorough process. I think Debra's a good pick and I look forward to working with her."
Garrett co-founded Community Leaders United, and currently serves as a Community Health Project Coordinator at the Commission on Economic Opportunity. "My main goal to serve the people in District 2 is to promote self-advocacy and recognizing all of the good that is in District 2. I feel like right about now we are pretty forgotten especially in North Central and Hillside. My personal experience so far I have been working with TRIP. I also work for C.E.O. and a part of my job there was working on the One Troy project, and I helped host National Night Out with a lot of people that are active in the community that may not get recognized, so my main my focus right now is to bring awareness, to, you know, the positive things that's in Troy."
Republican City Council President Carmella Mantello issued a statement congratulating Garrett, saying she looks forward to working with her, but plans to vote against the appointment because she was left out of the interview process.
Republican mayoral candidate Tom Reale also welcomed Garrett but lamented what he termed "the drawn-out and opaque process undertaken to arrive at her selection." "It took far too long, it lacked transparency, and the entire thing was controlled by interests outside of the district. Those are three things that any one of them would be an issue but all three of them really expose a problem within the city charter for how we resolve vacancies on the city council and that's something that needs to be addressed."
Democratic mayoral primary challenger Rodney Wiltshire: "I think that Ms. Garrett will do a fine job serving out the rest of the term. I also wonder why she was not selected as the Democratic candidate to run in District 2, but I'm not a part of that process."
Garrett says she never envisioned herself serving on the council. "I stepped up because I felt like I needed to step up. I have no problem with doing this work. I'm not too certain that I would run, only because I still have small children, and I wanna make sure that I'm available to my children at every moment, so I know that being the city council person right now, me taking on this eight months, is definitely going to, you know, pull me back from other priorities and I don't know if I could commit to that longer than the eight months."
Democrat Mary Sweeney is running against Republican Kim Ashe-McPherson in November’s general election for the District 2 seat.