Poughkeepsie council chair cuts mayor out of sessions

POUGHKEEPSIE – Poughkeepsie Common Council Chairperson Sarah Salem broke with a years’ long policy of providing time for the mayor to make comments during regular sessions by unilaterally announcing Monday night that Mayor Rob Rolison may address the council only when he is summoned.

Salem equated the decision to the state legislature that does not provide for comments from the governor.

The chair’s decision is seen by some as being partisan as the council majority is Democrat and Rolison is a Republican.

Rob Rolison                                      Sarah Salem

He was totally baffled by the decision.

“In these trying times of a pandemic, in a fiscal crisis, ‘we don’t want the mayor’,” he recounted. “I think they think they are just going to summon people before their body, which they can do, but it’s almost like they are trying to create, in some respects, the same gridlock and partisanship that exists on other levels of government.”

Even though the council members adopted the format of meetings in January, which includes comments from the mayor, Salem said it is the prerogative of the chair to structure the agendas.

Rolison questioned if he were a Democrat, would Salem have taken the same action.

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