Democrats Take Troy Council, Presidency Up In The Air

Nov 8, 2017

Democrats have regained control of the city council in Troy, New York, but after the first citywide vote, the council presidency is still up in the air.

Rensselaer County Democratic Chair Michael Monescalchi addressed area Democrats gathered at Ryan’s Wake in downtown Troy Tuesday night.

“It appears we took the majority of the Troy City Council tonight. And also the race for Common Council president is razor-thin,” Monescalchi said. “Unofficial results – it appears that Gary Pavlic is down by 40 votes, but that race is awful close.”

“No concession here until we find out what the absentee ballots are,” Pavlic said Wednesday morning. “We still have an opportunity. It’s really too close to call for either of us, so we’re going to wait and see.”

Pavlic said his campaign team is going to get a handle on the number of absentee ballots to see if he can overcome the 40-vote deficit being reported by the county Board of Elections.

“I thought it would be close,” Pavlic said. “I didn’t think it was going to be this close.”

The current Democratic county legislator and his opponent, incumbent Republican Council President Carmella Mantello, have not spoken about the results. Mantello said Wednesday morning she intends to wait for what she says are a few hundred absentee ballots to be tallied, which Mantello believes will happen Monday or Tuesday.

“We feel very positive about the absentees and I do believe that the absentees will follow the trend of my vote,” said Mantello.

Democratic Mayor Patrick Madden, who has had a rocky relationship with Mantello during his first four-year term, says it remains to be seen how Mantello would lead a majority Democratic council in working with his administration if she wins.

“That was an issue when the charter was redrafted,” Madden said Wednesday morning. “That you could end up with a situation where the council president is of a different party than the majority. I think it forces people to work together if they’re going to get things done. So, you know, it’s going to be up to each individual and how they want to advance the city or advance politics. So I think it’s quite possible that it could be a very collaborative relationship.”

Mantello says ruling from the minority would be unchartered waters.

“But as everyone knows, I’ve worked with everyone and now it’s time to roll up the sleeves, put the politics behind, the election’s over and now we have to govern so we have to work together,” she said.

In the past, Mantello and fellow GOP councilmembers have clashed with the Madden administration over proposed tax hikes and city oversight.

The presidency was the only citywide council race following a city charter change approved by voters in 2015, reducing the number of council seats from nine to seven.

Democrats took four of the six district seats. Democrat Cindy Barclay trails incumbent Republican Mark McGrath by 13 votes. Barclay said Wednesday morning she is waiting for the final vote count in District 2. Republican James Gulli held onto his District 1 seat. Winning District 4, Democrat Anasha Cummings says he isn’t worried about working with a Republican council president if the results hold.

“I certainly have worked with Carmella in the past on some projects,” Cummings said. “If she is elected, certainly look forward to collaborating with her in every way we can. I think she does care about the city. I think none of us are here to advance our own political agendas, we’re here to work for the city and so I hope we can come together over that.”

Cummings says he wants to develop new revenue streams and cost-saving measures for city residents.

“The city of Troy finances are mostly under a massive amount of debt that was racked up 30 years ago,” he said. “That’s going to be an ongoing challenge for the next several years. We are coming out from under that and under Mayor Madden’s leadership we are budgeting with sound financial management practices for a change.”

Along with swinging Democrat, the council is also adding young faces. Cummings turns 29 on Thursday and T.J. Kennedy, who won District 6, turned 27 last week.

“My whole message has been to get more people my age involved,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy says he wants to increase access to healthy food in the Collar City.

“We want to try to bring some kind of cooperative grocery store here,” he said. “Basically more gardens, urban gardening, want to complete a comprehensive plan on urban agriculture in this city.”