Fifth Ward Alderman Jim Martuscello said today that he is backing Art Iannuzzi to replace resigning Third Ward Alderman Chad Majewski. His choice contradicts the City of Amsterdam Democratic party’s recommendation of Irene Collins for the position, which was announced at yesterday’s Common Council meeting.
Under the city charter, the council must appoint a replacement of the same political party in the event of a vacancy. While the council has followed party recommendations for appointments in the past, there is no requirement by the charter that they do so.
Iannuzzi is a former Democratic third ward alderman and a current member of the zoning board of appeals. Martuscello, also a Democrat, said that he recommended Iannuzzi to the Democratic search committee because he has served with him in the past and worked well with him. He also said that Iannuzzi assured him that he would run for the position in the upcoming general election.
Reached for comment today, Iannuzzi confirmed he is willing serve if appointed as well as run in the election this November. Collins said she is also willing to serve if appointed, but deferred comment on whether she would run in the election to a later time.
Martuscello said he was not happy with the party’s search sub-committee because neither he nor any of the other sitting Democratic council members were invited to serve on the sub-committee, and that the sub-committee did not follow up with Iannuzzi about serving.
According to Fabrizia Rodriguez, a member of the search sub-committee who announced the recommendation for Collins on Tuesday, Iannuzzi was one of four Democrats discussed for the position, and members of the sub-committee did have interactions with him. She also said that all Democratic committee members, including the sitting Democratic council members, were invited to a recent meeting of the search sub-committee.
Chad Majewski said today that the search sub-committee reached out to him several times for input on the decision and although he was not able to attend, he and the other Democratic aldermen were invited to a recent search committee meeting.
Iannuzzi said today that if appointed, economic development, including updating the city’s comprehensive plan, would be a priority for him.
“Looking toward the future, what we do today will make a difference five years from now,” he said.
He cited previous success with helping to form the city’s community and economic development department during his two terms spanning 1996 to 2000. He said the department was able to secure millions in state grants for projects such as upgrading the phone and computer network wiring for both city hall and the public safety building.
A former deputy controller for the City of Mount Vernon for 12 years, Collins said that the city’s finances are a priority concern for her.
Speaking in general about the various economic development projects in the city, she said, “If there’s something good for Amsterdam, that’s going to reduce our deficit and bring new revenue into our city, I think it’s a wonderful idea.”
Kelly Quist-Demars, who has until just recently served as the City of Amsterdam Democratic Committee Chairperson, said that two meetings were held to discuss the appointment.
In regards to the meetings, she wrote, “Support was overwhelming for Irene Collins. Ms. Collins has an impressive history in municipal finance and is truly invested in the Amsterdam community. I reached out to our Democratic council members who were invited to but did not attend that day’s meeting. At that time, Mr. Martuscello made it abundantly clear that his mind was made up about the appointment and it was his decision.”
She added, “I’d also like to clarify that I spoke with Mr. Iannuzzi two times before our final meeting and called him after the meeting to share our decision. He shared his qualifications at length and the committee was fully aware of him and his qualifications.”
Quist-Demars said that with the amount of time she spent getting input from the Democratic committee about the appointment, that Martuscello’s dismissal of the sub-committee’s decision was “incredibly frustrating” to her. She said the situation led her to re-evaluate the amount of free time she spends on politics versus other volunteer activities, which led to her decision to resign as chair.
“I am hopeful that new leadership will step up and continue the good work,” she said.