When There Is a Vacancy on the Council, Just the Facts

0:00 In the paper’s front-page article, “Control of City Council Flips,” in the Nov. 9 edition, the writer repeats the same inaccuracy about what happens […]

Published November 12, 2023 1:19 AM
2 min read

0:00

In the paper’s front-page article, “Control of City Council Flips,” in the Nov. 9 edition, the writer repeats the same inaccuracy about what happens after a vacancy on the City Council that appeared in many fear-mongering texts and emails in the weeks before the recent election. Contrary to what the story says, the mayor does not have specific power to “name a replacement” as he does, for example, with members of boards and commissions.

In the City Charter, Article 4-5 Vacancies reads as follows: 

“If a vacancy shall occur in the office of Mayor or Councilman, the Council shall, by a vote of a majority of the members of the Council remaining in office, appoint a person to fill such vacancy. The person appointed to fill such vacancy shall hold office by virtue of such appointment until the first day of January following the first general election after the happening of the vacancy. A vacancy occurring before September 20 of any year in any elective office of the city shall be filled at the general election held next thereafter, unless otherwise provided by law, or unless previously filled at a special election.”

As readers can see, the law does not even give the mayor a tiebreaker vote. Presumably, if there were no agreement among council members (the mayor is also a member of the council with only one vote), the seat would remain vacant until the next election, a question of mere months. This is, in fact, the exact scenario under which Councilman Nathan achieved his current office. When Pam Tarlow moved out of Rye in the summer of 2021, he won that seat in November and began serving no later than the first Council meeting on December 1.

Furthermore, it’s a pity that even after emailing in advance to get my phone number, the writer of this follow-up story never bothered to call me. Perhaps, he might have known that I would object to his hagiographic spin on what unfolded. Too bad.

Editor’s note: The Record regrets the error. No one has the power to name a Council replacement. When there is a Council vacancy, the Mayor or any other member of the Council can suggest a replacement. And as our article stated, any replacement must be approved by a majority of the Council.

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