With their impressive victories two weeks ago for elective positions with the city government, John A. Rishe and Jeffery M. Skelly seem to have their fingers on the pulse of Ogdensburg residents.
As a write-candidate, Mr. Rishe beat incumbent City Council members Timothy P. Davis, David G. Price and Jennifer Stevenson.
He’ll join William B. Dillabough and Steven M. Fisher as incoming councilors.
Mr. Skelly also pulled off an upset through a write-in campaign in this election.
He defeated incumbent Wayne L. Ashley and challenger Samuel J. Lammachia in the mayoral race.
All new council members will take over Jan. 1.
To win these races while not being listed on the ballot was an amazing achievement.
It shows that Mr. Rishe and Mr. Skelly truly resonated in the final stage of their respective campaigns with voters.
However, they and the other incoming council members are overplaying their hand on one issue.
They wanted the City Council to postpone voting on the proposed agreements with two unions representing members of the Ogdensburg Police Department.
“The newly elected members of the Ogdensburg City Council are requesting that the present City Council not adopt any new contracts that will go into effect after they leave office,” Mr. Rishe wrote on his Facebook page. “The existing council should not impose any new contracts on the future council that was just elected and that takes office Jan. 1, 2020. The people of Ogdensburg overwhelmingly voted for new leadership, and no new contracts should be adopted and imposed on the new council. Such an action would limit our ability to govern and would thwart the will of the people.”
Of course, council members ignored this request.
On Nov. 12, they approved identical labor agreements with the police officers’ union as well as the police supervisory union.
The seven-year contracts call for a 3 percent raise for the first two years and a 3.5 percent raise for the remaining five years.
It’s true that city voters chose to elect new public officials to represent them.
They wanted the incoming council to have a fresh perspective.
But this doesn’t mean that the current council needs to abdicate its authority.
Negotiations for these contracts have been going on for the past year, and it’s not reasonable to ask those representing the Police Department employees to start this process from scratch.
The contracts were ready to go, so there was no need to halt their progress.
All new elected officials must abide by existing policies and agreements established by previous legislative bodies that are still in effect.
Members of the new council will have to accept the fact that members of the old council didn’t stop doing their jobs once the polls closed.