Common Council chooses new mayor

DeSantis will fill position until November election

Vincent DeSantis is sworn in as the mayor of Gloversville by City Court Judge Traci DiMezza on Thursday after being appointed to fill the position by the Common Council. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

GLOVERSVILLE — The Common Council appointed Councilman-at-Large Vincent DeSantis mayor of the city on Thursday, roughly 24 hours after the resignation of Dayton King.

King accepted a plea agreement in City Court on Wednesday, pleading guilty to official misconduct, a misdemeanor, for using the city’s postage meter to conduct personal business. He was initially charged in November with felony first-degree falsifying business records, official misconduct and petit larceny.

As part of the plea deal, King agreed to resign as mayor by 5 p.m. Wednesday, pay restitution equal to the amount of postage used which totalled $473.07, complete 50 hours of community service, pay $750 in fines and fees and submit to a DNA sample.

King’s resignation left a vacancy in the mayor’s seat for the Common Council to fill for the next 10 months, before a special election in November to fill the remaining two years of his elected term.

The council voted 6-0 to appoint DeSantis as mayor at the opening of Thursday’s organizational meeting, with DeSantis recusing himself from the vote.

Gloversville Mayor Vincent DeSantis delivers the annual State of the City Address on Thursday shortly after being appointed to his new position by the Common Council. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

DeSantis’ new position left his seat as the councilman-at-large open, the council then voted 5-0 to appoint Fourth Ward Councilman Steven Smith to fill the position, while Smith recused himself from the vote.

Both men were then sworn into their new positions by City Court Judge Traci DiMezza, garnering standing ovations from the council members and members of the community who filled the council chamber.

After taking his new seat as mayor, DeSantis delivered the annual State of the City address, noting the effort that went into improving the city’s financial position a decade earlier and pledging to continue building off of that work.

“The city of Gloversville was in what could be commonly called a tailspin. We had revenues that were badly depleted and those financial shortfalls caused a constriction in services, a constriction in manpower,” DeSantis said. “After 2010 there was a remarkable turnaround, without any major bailout from outside, the city of Gloversville bootstrapped itself out of that cycle and rebuilt it’s financial integrity.”

Following declines in staffing, services and population that resulted in a shrinking tax base, DeSantis said the city was able to regroup, rebuilding city departments and making significant economic gains in non-property tax revenues and growing sales tax revenues to build up a robust fund balance of nearly $7 million.

“I just want to express how grateful I am to not only the department heads and the staff who worked during those years, but the elected officials that were on the council during that time,” DeSantis said. “I really want to express my gratitude, because I have the privilege of sitting here at a point where we’re able to actually invest in Gloversville’s future.”

To continue fostering growth in the city, DeSantis said he plans to focus on attracting residents and businesses to the city through a variety of methods to grow the city’s tax base.

“Every year it costs more to run the city, every year everything costs more,” DeSantis said. “There’s only one way for the city to stay alive and that’s to make sure that it’s revenues increase at a greater or equal rate than the costs.”

“The only way to do that without raising taxes is to achieve growth, so growth is the goal. We have to do that, we have to do that to provide high quality services to the people in the city and we have to do that to start lowering the tax rate incrementally.”

DeSantis’ goals include development of a national marketing campaign funded in this year’s city budget to attract entrepreneurs to live and work in the city, development of the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan utilizing a $78,000 grant award from the state Department of State that could open further grant opportunities to redevelop neighborhoods around the Cayadutta Creek, increasing grant funding for income-qualified homeowners to make needed home repairs and remediating and redeveloping brownfield sites throughout the city.

While there are many factors affecting the city’s ability to grow that fall outside of the city’s control, DeSantis said he feels optimistic about the city’s future and will do all that he can to promote growth while he holds the office of mayor.

“I approach this office with a tremendous amount of trepidation, because there are so many things out there that we don’t have any control over,” DeSantis said. “But I can promise you that I’m going to do the best I can for the time I’m here. It’s only 10 months before the voters decide, but while I’m here I promise you that I’m going to put all my effort into this. Thank you.”

Following Thursday’s meeting, the lifelong city resident, DeSantis, said he will likely run for office in November, although he wants to see how the next few months progress before making an official announcement.

“It’s likely that I will be running again, because I don’t think that I can fulfill all of the things I want to do in the course of the next 10 months, so I’m hopeful that things will go well and I’ll want to stay here for another two years at least,” DeSantis said.

The newly-appointed councilman-at-large, Smith, shared a similar viewpoint on seeking election, saying it would be difficult to accomplish in just 10 months his goals for the city including the development of the city’s marketing campaign and obtaining a new Department of Public Works building to replace the city’s aging building.

“I had expected to run once again, my term would have been up for the 4th Ward position this year, 2019, so I would have had to run for the 4th Ward position in November anyway, so I expect I will shift into running for the councilman-at-large position instead,” Smith said.

Smith said he does not expect his new duties as councilman-at-large to impact his ability to continue running his business, Smith Engineering & Architect, although he plans to focus his attentions on the city.

“I’m almost 70 and I’m likely to be retiring from my engineering business soon and dedicating my time full-time to the city of Gloversville,” Smith said.

Smith’s new position in the city created a vacancy on the Common Council in the 4th Ward that the council left open on Thursday, planning to accept applications from the public from residents interested in occupying the seat until November’s election and make a nomination during the next meeting on Jan. 22 at 6 p.m.