Democrats take Schenectady council seats

Wednesday, November 6, 2013
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Schenectady City Council member Marion Porterfield, left, speaks to supporters at the Hibernian Hall after winning a four-year term on Election Night, along with John Mootooveren, center, and Carl E. Erickson, II, right. All three will be sworn in on New Year's Day.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber
Schenectady City Council member Marion Porterfield, left, speaks to supporters at the Hibernian Hall after winning a four-year term on Election Night, along with John Mootooveren, center, and Carl E. Erickson, II, right. All three will be sworn in on New Year's Day.

— Democrats swept the Schenectady City Council race, and the man that Republicans thought was the “weakest link” climbed to the top of the ticket Tuesday night.

Candidate John Mootooveren was delighted when the unofficial tally put him at 4,155 votes — hundreds more than anyone else.

“It’s amazing!” he said, recalling the day two years ago when his race was too close to call. He eventually lost that race by 39 votes. So he was delighted in Tuesday’s overwhelming victory all the more.

Mootooveren, 41, is the first Guyanese-American elected to the council. He highlighted his decades of experience as an accountant in the campaign, and he said that might have won over the voters. Or maybe they liked his “positive only” campaign.

Either way, he’s ready to get started.

“I am going to bring my experience to the City Council,” he said. “Now let’s get things done.”

City Council incumbents Carl Erikson and Marion Porterfield also won, finishing with 3,756 and 3,579 votes respectively in unofficial results.

Erikson said the sweep was a vote of confidence for the Democrats, who hold all but one seat on the council.

“I think the outcome is a sign we’re doing a good job in the eyes of the voters,” he said.

Erikson, 41, has built a reputation as the council’s financial expert. But he’s faced opposition from other Democrats for his unwillingness to follow the party line at times. Earlier this year, he wasn’t sure if he would even be endorsed for re-election.

Now he can continue the strategies he started in the 2014 budget, he said.

“I was moving forward as if I was going to win,” he said, noting that he has begun several efforts that could save the city money in years to come.

“It’s a long-term strategy,” he said.

Porterfield, 56, had an extra reason to celebrate Tuesday: She can finally get a break from running for re-election. After campaigning for an appointment, running in a primary and a general election for a one-year term and then running again this year, she has finally earned a four-year term.

Porterfield has focused on jobs, both in her private life — where she’s creating a jobs program with Better Neighborhoods Inc. — and on the council. Now that she has four years to work with, she said she will take on the lack of diversity in municipal employment.

“I really want to increase the ethnic diversity in the city. I really think that’s important,” she said.

She hopes to start a public safety program similar to ROTC for high school and middle school students, which might encourage them to take jobs as police and firefighters.

The total loss was deeply disappointing for the Republicans, who were surprised by Mootooveren’s strong performance.

They said they thought Mootooveren would be the Democrats’ “weakest link.” When he came in first, they knew they didn’t have a chance.

“We tried our best. Did the best we could,” said candidate Joseph Lazzari, who finished in fourth place with 2,953 votes in unofficial results.

“We thought we had a good message. We tried to level the playing field, get some diversity on the council,” he added. “I’m sorry to hear we fell short.”

Candidate Joseph Kelleher said he was taking heart from his surprisingly strong result, considering that he was a first-time candidate who has only lived in the city for a short time. He came in fifth with 2,733 votes in unofficial results.

He said he hoped the Democrats noticed how many people voted for the Republicans.

“It sends a message that people want change,” he said. “But apparently not all of them are ready for it.”

He plans to run again.

“I’m not going away,” he said. “The people put their faith and their trust in me.”

Candidate Mary McClaine came in last with 2,315 votes in unofficial results. She said she hadn’t expected that result.

She has been a fixture at City Council meetings for a decade. She tried repeatedly to get on the ballot before the Republican Party finally endorsed her this year.

The successful council candidates will be paid $14,093 next year.

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November 6, 2013
6:17 a.m.
wmarincic says...

You people deserve what you get. Please no more letters complaining about the high taxes. Please no more letters that it takes police two hours or longer to respond to a call. Please no more letters that the schools are not safe and the gangs and litter are taking over the city. I have always said, "It's a long life to live, you get what you give". SMH

November 6, 2013
6:46 a.m.
cidbil says...

HAHAHAHAHA!!!! So much for all the pissed off people coming out to vote in droves.....yeah the voters in the city are really dissatisfied.........all those irate, over-taxed folks made it to the polls didn't they?....HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!..........or maybe the only irate, dissatisfied, over-taxed folks are the handful that post here and on other social for thought eh? least in Rotterdam the oppposition showed up.....:)

November 6, 2013
6:59 a.m.
mlamendola says...

if the GOP thought Moot was the weakest link, then they are sadly out of touch with the electorate, based on the guy's strong showing.

November 6, 2013
7:39 a.m.
tonijean613 says...

The reason taxes are so high is hugely related to police/fire dept and pension padding and overtime and health benefits- School taxes have nothing to do with City Council- (but new Super Larry Spring is trying to correct that-thank goodness)-
So I could see supporting Kelleher as a "change agent" but Lazarri??
I don't think so- he is no Vince Riggi who is taking a common sense outsider approach- which I think Erikson has been doing which is why he won re-election. Porterfield won bec she understands the most challenged communities and Mootooveren I equate to being like Mayor Duci back in his day represented the "Italian" community when they were the big ethnic group. He is also from the Mont Pleasant area which needs help desperately. So instead of complaining- let's feed them good ideas.

November 6, 2013
9:18 a.m.

HOORAY for MOOTOOVEREN. If i had to carry porterfield and the self proclaimed 'type A' woman, i'd hang my head too Mr Erikson.

Joey Lazzari, you gotta get a couple more endorsements buddy. Follow Riggi's game plan. Hammer away at em in their PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR. Hammer at the type A lady's silly ideas.

I hope you don't give up Joe.

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