Schenectady Democrat says member of council is blocking party-backed candidate

Section: Capital Region,  Page: D1

Date: Sunday, December 18, 2011

SCHENECTADY -- A controversy continues to brew over the contested appointment to the open City Council seat, with a Democratic committeewoman now accusing a City Council member of "blocking" the candidate who has the backing of most Schenectady Democrats.

The spat also has raised the curtain on some behind-the-scenes deal-making that was derailed when Democrats promised a City Council seat to one person because they expected another to win his race to the governing body -- but he lost.

Marva Isaacs, co-chair of the Hamilton Hill and Vale Democratic Committee, said Saturday that Democratic City Councilwoman Denise Brucker -- who is in line to become the next City Council president -- is "blocking" the appointment of Marion Porterfield. She said that's because Brucker favors John Mootooveren, the Mont Pleasant accountant from Guyana who unexpectedly lost on Election Day.

Porterfield had earlier agreed not run in a primary in exchange for being picked to take then-Council President Gary McCarthy's seat if he won the mayoral election. All are Democrats.

"Denise is the one making the trouble because she doesn't want Marion to have the seat," Isaacs said. "She is the one blocking it."

Brucker, who along with two fellow City Council members interviewed Mootooveren Saturday morning, denied the allegation, saying she wants to maintain an "open mind" on the matter.

"There are 4,125 folks who voted for John, so what do we do -- tell people that their votes don't count?" she reasoned. "It's a democratic process."

Ultimately, the Democratic-majority governing body will vote on the appointment.

Besides Brucker, Margaret "Peggy" King and Leesa Perazzo also attended Saturday's hourlong gathering at the library with Mootooveren, where they questioned him on his background and made sure he understood the job requirements, King said. She added that they plan to hold a similar meeting sometime between Christmas and New Year's Eve with Porterfield, a Hamilton Hill resident who runs the county's Weed and Seed program.

"This is a really hard decision because you have two really qualified candidates," King said. "We're all struggling with this."

Isaacs vowed Hamilton Hill residents would picket City Hall if Porterfield is passed over for the political post, adding "we're going to let them know we mean business."

Isaacs said she attended a Dec. 10 meeting at which several Schenectady Democrats reiterated their support for Porterfield to get McCarthy's old seat. He beat Alliance Party candidate and former Union College President Roger Hull to win the mayoral race.

McCarthy's victory also left open the job of City Council president, which many expect Brucker will get during the Jan. 3 City Council reorganization meeting.

When asked Saturday about the leadership post, Brucker said she is "very interested," but that the decision would be up to her fellow councilmembers.

Reach Nelson at 454-5347 or pnelson@timesuninon.com.


The spat has also raised the curtains on some behind the scenes deal-making and a political miscalculation.