Poughkeepsie council on pace to violate the law for second time this year

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POUGHKEEPSIE – The Poughkeepsie City Common Council has until October 20, 2022, to appoint a new chairperson/councilmember-at-large person to replace former Chairperson Sarah Salem,  The former chairperson resigned just hours after being convicted by a jury on a DWI charge.

Salem’s resignation was effective September 20, 2022.  The council, pursuant to the city charter, has 30 days to fill the vacancy, putting a deadline of October 20, 2022 for the appointment.

Unable to reach an internal solution, Councilwoman Natasha Cherry was named “acting” council chair.  Cherry solicited resumes from residents seeking to replace Salem as the “at-large member and council chairperson” through December 31, 2023.  Ten applicants responded prior to the deadline, including former Council Chair Chris Petsas.

Mid-Hudson News made repeated requests to Cherry and the other council members, asking for details of the interview process.  Cherry was sent both emails and text messages but all went unanswered.

The applicants independently told Mid-Hudson News that they were scheduled to be interviewed at a special meeting of the council on October 19, 2022.  The meeting is scheduled to open and then the members will go into the executive session to interview the candidates out of the public’s view.

Despite arguments from Mid-Hudson News that the initial interview to discuss basic questions that do not include private information be conducted in public view, the council has chosen to conduct the interviews behind closed doors at the special meeting on Wednesday night.

The special meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., after which the Pledge of Allegiance and roll call will be held  with the council then going into an executive session to interview the 10 applicants.  The agenda does not indicate that an appointment will be made prior to the October 20, 2022 deadline, which disobeys the law.

With Salem leading the council in March of this year, it came to light that the lawmakers were violating the law by failing to appoint a required redistricting committee, more than a year after it was supposed to be made public.  The Mid-Hudson News account of that disobedience of the law can be read here.