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Councilman wants voters to strengthen council power, lessen Mayor's free reign

By By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - A Utica City Councilman wants to ask voters to strengthen the powers of the Common Council. The mayor, however, says - if you want to be mayor, then run for the office!

This November, Utica's first district councilperson Frank Vescera wants to ask voters to give the council more power and the mayor less free reign. Vescera wants the council to be in on costly union negotiations from the start.

"The thing that this would take away is saying we had no power," Vescera said. "We had no recourse. This will give us some input, so that six months down the road when this is going to affect us, we'll have already known about it. We won't be blindsided."

Vescera also wants the council to be able to weigh in on all department heads that the mayor appoints.

"The other thing I asked the commission to do is give the council advice and consent over department head appointments and their salaries," Vescera said. "That's another big issue, and I think people are asking for that and want that."

"If Mr. Vescera wants to take over the rules of the mayor, he should run for mayor," Mayor David Roefaro said. "Frank Vescera is the same council member who voted down a $500,000 grant for his own district. He's also the only council member who voted to protect criminals who use guns on our streets. He should start correcting those mistakes first."

Vescera said the grant to which the mayor is referring was to bring low-income housing to his district, and that he simply followed the wishes of his constituents who live and work in the area and were opposed to that. Vescera said the grant fell through, anyway.

The first-district councilperson said he didn't support the mayor's gun legislation because he didn't feel it enhanced the laws already on the books.

Mitchell Ford, of the city's charter revision committee, said the 11-member committee will vote on whether to put the two issues to the public in the form of a referendum on the November ballot.

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