Utica Council Extends Term-Limits from 8 Years to 12
By a narrow 5-4 margin, and against the pleas of more than a dozen city residents and two former mayors, the Utica Common Council voted Wednesday to extend term limits for the city's elected positions.
Pending the signature of Mayor Robert Palmieri, that limit would increase from eight to 12 years, effective January of 2018. It, of course, wouldn't guarantee any city elected official any additional time in office, simply the ability to run for a third term - including Palmieri.
All 16 residents who addressed term limits during the public comment portion of the meeting told the council that it should not decide the issue, but residents should - via a public referendum. Those voices included former mayors Tim Julian and David Roefaro.
Julian reminded the council that more than two decades ago, ''Eighty-percent of a much larger electorate voted this in...The voters can vote to extend the limits if they want it'', he said.
Efforts to gather enough signatures to put the matter up for public vote were unsuccessful.
Without specifically calling out councilors by name, many scolded and admonished those who planned to vote for the extension. Some of the sharpest comments came from the city's previous mayor, David Roefaro, who called on councilors to have 'integrity'.
''Some of you, I'm really shocked at,'' Roefaro said. ''You know it's wrong.''
But he didn't stop there. The ex-mayor went so far as to vaguely allege that some council members were motivated by jobs offers for family members, or to 'get an endorsement' from the current administration.
Russ Brooks, Utica's longtime fire chief who was recently placed on forced leave by the city, called it an example of 'gutter swamp politics' and said he was disappointed in some council members whom he 'once held in high regard'.
Second district councilman David Testa, who voted in favor of the extension, took offense to those and other comments at the meeting.
''Some council member feel we made some deal here. We didn't,'' Testa said, adding that he believed he could best serve his district by continuing to work with the current administration.
Councilor-at-large Ed Bucciero - who voted against the extension- wasn't swayed by Testa's comments.
''Anyone who doesn't see what's going on here is oblivious or blind,'' Bucciero said, alleging 'deceitful and dishonest' action by council members who voted for the increase.
- Maria McNeil - YES
- David Testa - YES
- John Jacon - YES
- Joseph Marino - NO
- Bill Phillips - YES
- Samantha Colosimo-Testa - NO
- Mark Williamson - NO
- Jack LoMedico - YES
- Ed Bucciero - NO
Join WIBX First News with Keeler in the Morning Thursday for more discussion on the term limit extension. Among our guests will be former Utica mayor Tim Julian.