Residents in Corning’s Second Ward are still unrepresented after city council members could not appoint a new councilman Tuesday. A tie in the general election in November left the seat vacant.
Democratic candidate Kate Paterson won 273 votes and Republican candidate Michele Beckman, who was voted in last April after councilman Lee Welles stepped down, also won 273 votes.
Even after voting twice during the meeting neither candidate received the minimum of 5 council votes needed to secure the position. Paterson earned two votes, Beckman received four votes and two councilmen abstained.
Dozens of community members were in attendance to voice their opinions, some believe the power to choose their next councilman should belong to the people.
“I noticed going door-to-door that a lot of people did feel that way that the decision should be made at the council level,” Democratic candidate for Corning’s Second Ward Kate Paterson said. “That it is not a partisan issue per se it’s about the people that are running for the office and I do think that they deserve another chance at coming to a definitive choice.”
Others said it’s the council’s responsibility to make sure the people of the Second Ward are represented in the meantime.
“Our charter here for the City of Corning is to vote in the result of a tie,” Republican candidate Michele Beckman said. “It’s unfortunate that our city council was unable to perform their duty by voting tonight so the seat will remain vacant and I don’t know for how long.”
As for what steps will be taken next to fill the vacant seat, Corning Mayor Richard Negri said that’s also still undecided.
“So it’s a question of do we hurry to get the special election before November?” Negri said. “How soon before November can we get it all together and have a special election? My feeling is it’s going to be a lot longer than you think, I hope I’m wrong, but that’s what I think.”
Negri said they’ll talk with the City Attorney and reach out to Governor Andrew Cuomo for advice before taking any further action.
Stay with 18 News for the latest information as this story develops.