Utica, NY (WIBX) - To some, the next mayor of Utica has already taken a significant step toward building stronger ties with minority groups in the area. One of the members of Mayor-elect, Robert Palmieri's transition team is the first ever Latina to be named to such a post. Sonia Martinez, President, Mohawk Valley Latino Association, says she considers the appointment a distinguished honor and adds, "From what I can gather, no other Latino or Latina has been named to such a prestigious honor in our community in the City of Utica. I know there have been other Latino leaders prior to me coming to Utica and there's been Latino organizations, but I don't believe that any have been named to such a position."

Martinez says being a member of the Mayor-elect's transition team signify a positive change for the city. "To me, it means that the Latino community has been acknowledged. We have been here for many generations. Since the 1950s we've been part of this community, and we're looking forward to the next fifty years in the City of Utica," Martinez goes on to say, "It's a long time coming. I have been a big advocate with prior administrations and Mayor Roefaro has been a great help in my community. He has given the Mohawk Valley Latino Association assistance in trying to reach out to the Latino community. So, it did start with his administration, but I'm sure Mayor Palmieri will move even further and listen, and hopefully we can get some help."

Martinez says the move  is also in line with Palmieri's campaign promises to be more inclusive when it comes to leadership posts within his administration. Martinez says some of the key issues the Latino community is facing pertains to economic growth. "There are a lot of Latino businesses in the City of Utica and they would like some help building on what they have created already. They need help. They would like to see someone helping them with some of the issues that affect them," she said. Martinez says her role on the transition team--although a learning process--will be to work as an advocate for all residents.  All 9-members of Palmieri's transition team pack diverse business, community and education related backgrounds. Their first meeting is planned for next Tuesday at City Hall.

Palmieri's Transition Team members are:

  • Pat Costello, President, IEBW Local 43
  • Louis Critelli, Retired Engineer
  • Mary Brown DePass, Retired SUNY IT
  • Frank DuRoss, Executive Director Industrial Advancement, MVCC
  • Vin Gilroy, Certified Public Accountant
  • Todd Hutton, President, Utica College
  • Sal Longo, President, Northern Safety
  • Sonia Martinez, President Mohawk Valley Latino Association
  • Mike Taylor, President, Collinite Chemical Company