ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Calls for the resignation of Elmira 5th District City Councilmember Tory Kitching continue to grow following an 18 News report that Kitching has not attended a city council meeting since July 19.
Kitching tells 18 News his job has transferred him to Manhattan but that he’s still passionate about helping Elmira and its residents. Kitching declined an interview on Wednesday night.
On Thursday, Chemung County Democratic Committee Chair Dora Leland called for the Republican Kitching to resign.
“Collecting a salary for a job he is not doing is clearly breaking faith with all of his constituents, regardless of party affiliation,” said Leland. “Our consensus is that Mr. Kitching should step down, allowing Mayor Mandell to appoint a replacement from the same political party, in this case, another Republican, as required by city charter. And, the resignation should be effective immediately. We trust Mayor Mandell to appoint an appropriate replacement, but Mr. Kitching needs to do the right thing.”
Some members of Kitching’s district have also questioned Kitching as he’s been unable to fulfill his duties.
“You have duties to your community, you were chosen for that position, and when you’re not doing your job or you’re due diligence for your community, that’s just unfair representation,” said Dante Dicesare, a City of Elmira 5th District resident.
Elmira Mayor Dan Mandell tells 18 News that the city does not have the ability to remove Kitching from office. Kitching will either have to return to his duties with the city or resign, resulting in Mandell appointing a replacement to fulfill the remainder of Kitching’s term.
“Elected officials, you’ve got to be present to the people that elected you,” said Elmira City Councilmember Nick Grasso.
Despite not attending in-person or virtual city council meetings since July 19, Kitching has continued to receive his salary and city benefits. Elmira City council members earn an annual salary of $7,963.59 and their most recent meetings have been virtual.
During his absence Kitching has missed several key votes, including the approval of new leases for five Elmira Police Department vehicles, a new license agreement with CAN-USA and the Elmira Pioneers, and disbursement of American Rescue Plan grant funds.
18 News called Kitching again on Thursday but were unable to reach him.