A new Troy City Council met for the first time last night for its organizational meeting.
The seven-member Troy City Council has a majority of four Democrats and will be led by Republican City Council President Carmella Mantello, who is beginning a four-year term.
At its organizational meeting, the council elected Democrat Ken Zalewski as its new Council President Pro Tempore.
Some changes were adopted in the new rules proposed by the majority, including combining public speaking portions of city council meetings and moving it to the beginning of each meeting. Committee assignments were also announced.
And some of the members themselves discussed what they’re looking forward to in the years ahead.
Council President Mantello says she wants to address lingering public safety concerns.
“Short-term, we want to see the [police] body cams implemented as soon as possible. Surveillance cameras. Many of the issues that we’ve been working on over the last year,” said Mantello. “Long-term, you have to know, near and dear to my heart, the Think Differently. It’s all about more inclusiveness for special needs and really trying to make our city more inclusiveness but also more accessible.”
Councilor Zalewski says he wants to build on a strategy to address blight – while previously serving on the council, he pushed to establish a landlord registry.
“The next step is residential occupancy permits, or ROP’s, which would be the City issuing permits to allow people to inhabit a property,” said Zalewski.
One thing that is not a priority for the majority this term, says Zalewski, is pursuing a sanctuary law. A bill championed by former Public Safety Chair David Bissember, a Democrat, was vetoed by the city’s Democratic Mayor, Patrick Madden.
Again, Ken Zalewski.
“I know David put his heart and soul into that legislation, by the way, so I fully respect what he did and I support his pursuit of that. But I think they rushed the legislation out too quickly and the police department, kind of, was put on the defensive. I don’t want to do that. If we’re going to do something like that we want to bring people in so that we all present it as ‘we want to do this as a city,’” said Zalewski.
Troy’s downtown core has seen a resurgence in recent years. Mantello and Zalewski have the same thing on their minds…
“Taking that momentum that we keep talking about downtown, Lucas, and moving it, spreading it into the neighborhoods,” said Mantello.
“Not just downtown, but let that seep into the neighborhoods especially North-Central and South Troy,” said Zalewski.
…As does Mayor Madden.
“We’ve seen some development and investment in North-Central, South-Central. So starting to expand from the city center into the neighborhoods, we’d like to now be in a position to accelerate that.”
Madden, like Mantello, was also recently re-elected and is beginning a new four-year term.
Looking ahead, the mayor says the city has addressed many of its long-standing financial issues and he would like to begin work to implement neighborhood improvement projects outlined in the city’s Comprehensive Plan.
“And I think the work that we did on the finances was critical to getting that underway. We’re in a position now where we can begin to reinvest in infrastructure, things that have been neglected for a couple of decades. We’re not going to turn around everything in four years, but if we can set the ball in motion I’m confident that Troy can be what it once was in the past,” said Madden.