CORNING - The City Council voted 5-3 Monday night to select Republican Michele Beckman to fill the vacant 2nd Ward seat.
The council could not agree in early January how to fill the vacant seat, which has been vacant for the past 37 days, after a general election race between Beckman and Democrat Kate Paterson ended up a 273-273 tie.
“It’s good to know the ward is represented,” said Beckman moments after being sworn into office.
Beckman, a strategic planning supervisor at Corning Inc., will hold the position in 2017, and is expected to face Paterson, a Steuben Senior Services Fund Office for the Aging employee, in a November special election.
"We still have the (special) election" Beckman said.
"I will be running in the special election," Paterson added.
The winner of that special election would fill the remaining two years of the term.
Nine people talked to the City Council during visitor comment section of the meeting prior to the vote to fill the 2nd Ward seat.
A few 2nd Ward residents asked the council to hold a special election to fill the seat, while others asked the council to make a decision and fill the seat Monday night.
Councilman Frank Muccini, R-5, and councilmen Steven Maio, D-1, decided to abstain from the January vote, because they felt the decision should be up to the 2nd Ward resident and not the City Council. The two councilman intended to propose a resolution to petition Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to call for a special election for the 2nd Ward seat.
“My vote is probably going to be the deciding vote,” Muccini said to the crowd of about 60 people at the meeting. “Just to let you know, people have pressured me on both sides to vote. That has nothing to do with how I vote.”
Muccini said the reason he voted to fill the position Monday was that he has talked to officials in Albany and he feared how long the seat would be vacant if a special election was held.
“We discussed some of the procedures that would have to be done for that to happen,” Muccini said. “And talking to people in Albany I realize this (seat) would not be filled for at least a couple months.”
A section of the City Charter says a tie in an election for a city office creates a vacancy in that office as of January first following the election. The Charter requires that all vacancies for elected officials shall be filled by appointment of the City Council.
The council then voted on the resolution and Mayor Rich Negri, along with councilman Chris Karam, R-3, Muccini, Jim Nelson, R-7, and Alison Hunt, R-8, each voted for Beckman. Deputy Mayor Bill Boland, D-4, councilman Maio and Frank Coccho, D-6, each voted for Paterson.
The resolution matched how the council voted in April 2016 when it selected Beckman to fill the empty seat left by Lee Welles, who stepped down.