In her statement, which was read by Alderman David Marston, Cheddie reviewed her involvement in politics--in Hudson and elsewhere. Speaking of her two years as alderman, she stressed her knowledge of the issues, pointing out that during her tenure she had attended every committee meeting and had a "solid working relationship with the Council members I served with."
Haddad, a mayoral candidate last November, talked about the need to work together with the new administration for the betterment and future of Hudson. He identified as issues of particular concern taxes, education, the waterfront, and jobs. He explained that he saw the vacancy on the Common Council as an "opportunity to participate, which is what I want to do."
In addition to the First Ward representatives, Alderman David Marston and Supervisor Sarah Sterling, who organized and moderated the meeting, other elected officials were present: Common Council President Don Moore, Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward), Alderman Ohrine Stewart (Fourth Ward), and Supervisor Ellen Thurston (Third Ward).
Concern was expressed by some present about the process whereby the new alderman will be chosen. Moore explained the provisions in the city charter for replacing an alderman. The election by the Common Council must take place no sooner than 10 days and no more than 20 days after an alderman resigns. A special meeting of the Common Council has been called for Thursday, March 22, at 7 p.m., at which time a resolution for each candidate will be presented for a vote by the Council, in the order in which the candidates declared their interest. The successful candidate must be elected by a simple majority of the weighted vote in the Council.
It is not yet clear if this is a simple majority of all the possible votes or all the votes that can actually be cast by the members of the Common Council present at the meeting. A simple majority of the full Council is 1,011. The Council is now short one alderman, and if Fifth Ward alderman Cappy Pierro, who was absent for the informal meeting last Monday, is not present for the special meeting on Thursday, a simple majority of the votes that could be cast is only 825. Whatever constitutes a majority, only 94 of the votes can be cast by the lone representative of the First Ward. More than one audience member expressed concern and frustration that, given the weighted votes, a new First Ward alderman could be chosen by representatives of the Fifth Ward.
At the conclusion of the meeting, audience members were asked to participate in a straw poll, writing their preference--Haddad or Cheddie--on a piece of paper provided to them only after they had signed in, giving their name and address to validate their status as First Ward residents and voters. The marked "ballots" were then placed in a ballot box. The results of the straw poll will be presented to the Common Council on Thursday, as evidence of the First Ward's wishes.
|First Ward voters lined up to cast their ballots in the straw poll|
Although the straw poll involved only the two candidates who have so far declared their interest, Stewart suggested that there might be a third candidate, who has not yet been identified. Anyone interested in the position has until the special meeting on Thursday, March 22, to declare his or her interest and be considered.