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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Schenectady Republican Party leader reveals email exchange between council president and mayor


SCHENECTADY — City Council President Marion Porterfield accuses Schenectady Mayor Gary⁤ McCarthy of dividing the legislative body ⁣along racial lines in ⁢a leaked November email obtained by the Schenectady Republican Party.

With the mayor and council in agreement on a tentative 2024 budget deal‌ and a council vote slated for Thursday evening, GOP⁤ Chair Tom Kennedy released a Nov. 27 email from Porterfield to McCarthy wherein the council ⁣head writes ​to McCarthy that, “It may not be your intention, but you definitely are doing things that are divided along the⁤ line​ [of] race.”

Porterfield said⁣ on Wednesday that her relationship with McCarthy had improved in the last month, noting that the mayor and the majority of‍ the council had agreed ​on a‍ potential budget⁢ deal after the mayor vetoed the council’s first two budgets.

“Maybe he took to heart what⁣ I ‍was feeling,” Porterfield said of ‍the mayor. “As I said in the⁤ email, maybe it was ‍not his intention, but that is the ‍outcome.

Porterfield noted in the email ​that,‌ when ​she became council president in January 2022, she consistently went to McCarthy’s office in an attempt to develop a working relationship with the mayor,writing ⁢that McCarthy only ⁣reached out in return to⁤ discuss specific legislative matters.

Porterfield takes exception ⁣in the email to an appearance from former Schenectady Mayor Al ⁤Jurczynski at a Nov. 20 budget meeting where the former Republican mayor spoke disparagingly about⁢ the council prior to a budget vote.

Porterfield contended that McCarthy had prompted Jurczynski to speak,⁣ even⁢ though the current mayor knew‍ there was​ no public comment allowed at the budget meeting.

Kennedy said on⁤ Wednesday that he invited Jurczynski to attend that ‍council meeting. Jurczynski left the mayor’s office in 2003 and is, to date, the last Republican to hold the​ seat.

McCarthy said that he did ‌not respond directly to the ⁢November email that Porterfield sent, but ‍that he has had conservations with the council president in the wake of receiving the email.

“I disagree with some of the assumptions and allegations there,” McCarthy said of the email. “Throughout this whole budget process, there’s​ been a lot of tension and a⁢ lot of emotion. I’m just looking to move forward⁣ on it and get the budget done ⁣and move in a productive manner for the city.”

The email was sent last‍ month between the officials’ city email accounts.

Kennedy said on Wednesday that he obtained the email from an anonymous source.

“That​ was between the mayor and I, so I would like to ⁣know how he got ​a‍ hold of that,” Porterfield said of Kennedy.

Porterfield contends in the email ‍that, at the city’s annual ​holiday parade on Nov. 18, McCarthy only invited white council members​ to walk with him along the parade route, an assertion that the mayor‍ said Wednesday was false.

“That’s absolutely incorrect,” McCarthy ⁣said. “I‍ didn’t invite any council members.”

White council member John Polimeni was ​photographed walking near McCarthy during the holiday​ parade.

“It was all coincidence, or they‍ did it on their‍ own,” McCarthy said.

The⁤ letter cites a​ 2021 campaign rally for four minority candidates for the City Council — ⁢Porterfield and Council Members Damonni Farley, John​ Mootooveren and ‍Carl Williams — that was interrupted by ‌Dave Ditoro, the former husband of Council Member Doreen Ditoro, after Ditoro​ had⁤ chosen to run with former⁤ Council Member Karen Zalewski-Wildzunas, separately from the minority members​ on the Democratic ticket.

Farley had defeated Zalewski-Wildzunas in the Democratic primary, ⁣with Ditoro subsequently ⁢supporting a run from Zalewski-Wildzunas, who is white, ⁤on⁤ the Conservative ballot line.

McCarthy was present at ​the September 2021 rally, noting ⁣at the time that he was there to support the entire Democratic ticket.

“Over the years, I⁣ have tried to believe that you were not a party to undermining the minority members of the council,” Porterfield wrote in‌ her⁣ email. ⁣“However, as⁤ I spent the last few days reflecting on‍ things that have happened,⁣ I am not ‌sure that is the truth.”

In the email, Porterfield writes that during the 2021 council campaign McCarthy removed then-candidate Williams’ name from ⁣a campaign sign in the mayor’s yard.

“That’s all fluff in the first campaign years ago,” McCarthy said on Wednesday.

Porterfield concludes the email by asking McCarthy to put their disagreements aside in order to work together ⁤for the residents of the city.

“Gary, I cannot change how you decide to ask toward me or ⁢other councilmembers ‌who you⁢ do not ‌like,” she wrote. “I pray for you that God will soften your heart and ease whatever pain you are feeling that results in⁣ behavior meant to internationally harm ‍other people. That goes beyond politics.”

Kennedy said on Wednesday that the email showed the dysfunction of the all-Democratic council and mayor, with the city poised​ to adopt a‌ budget weeks past⁢ the Nov. 1 deadline.

“The city taxpayers pay the⁣ price ‍because these bumbling fools can’t get along with each other,” Kennedy said⁣ on Wednesday. “If they can’t get past their own egos, how are you going to solve our​ problems?”

McCarthy said that he is working in a⁣ constructive manner⁢ with the council and said that ‍Kennedy’s release of the email was a political tactic⁢ undertaken on the eve of ‍the council voting on a $109 million budget on‌ Thursday.

“The ‌Republicans have tried to‍ stir things up and ⁤really haven’t contributed anything of substance in a long time,” McCarthy said. “That’s why they continue to lose at the polls and voters‍ reject them.”

It is important for the city council and the mayor to work together ‌for the​ betterment of​ the city. The residents of Schenectady deserve a government⁣ that ⁢is focused on their needs⁢ and concerns, rather⁢ than internal conflicts. Let’s hope that the council and the mayor can⁤ put their differences aside and ‌work towards a common goal.

Juniper Li
Juniper Li
Juniper Li, with her roots in documentary filmmaking, brings a unique narrative style to local news reporting. A graduate of NYU’s Journalism program, Ava has a keen eye for stories that capture the essence of community life. Her reporting often highlights local achievements and challenges, drawing on her experience in visual storytelling.
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  1. Agree
    This should be a wake-up call for the citizens of Schenectady to pay closer attention to the actions of their elected officials.


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