New Leadership Takes Over Common Council

POUGHKEEPSIE – The City of Poughkeepsie Common Council members took their oaths of office last Thursday night, with Sarah Salem being sworn in as the chair.

Opening remarks were provided by Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson before the members were sworn-in by Dutchess County Supreme Court Judge Christie Acker. NYS Comptroller’s representative Matthew Martini was also present at the meeting.

After taking the oath, Salem convened the reorganizational meeting to take care of general housekeeping issues including the selection of member Sarah Brannen as vice-chair, Councilwoman Lorraine Johnson as majority leader and Councilwoman Yvonne Flowers as the minority leader. The council is made up of Democrats with the exception of Flowers, a registered member of the Independence Party.

In addition to the council positions, the board confirmed Mayor Rob Rolison’s appointments for corporation counsel and city chamberlain. Paul Ackerman has retained his position as the city’s top attorney while Deanne Flynn was confirmed to her fourth term as the Chamberlain, the city’s record keeper. Flynn was first put in as chamberlain in November 2008 and has been in the position since then.

In addition to recordkeeping and maintaining vital statistics, Flynn’s office has been tasked as the office that issues the Municipal ID program, started by the council early in 2019. The lifelong resident of Poughkeepsie said “I am honored that Mayor Rolison and the common council have placed their faith in me to continue helping the city that I love.”

Salem, elected to the member’s second term, the first as at-large councilmember, indicated her willingness to work collaboratively to move the city forward. “I’m looking forward to continuing the good work the council has been engaged with into the new year and our next term, working with my colleagues on the council, the mayor, administrator, the city staff, and the community for the progress of Poughkeepsie.”

Salem’s tenure encountered its first disagreement when the sophomore lawmaker changed the seating assignments on the dais. Councilmember Lorraine Johnson protested her new seat assignment and refused to take her seat until arrangements were made to keep the former position next to Councilmember Chris Petsas. Salem also laid out part of the council’s 2020 agenda with additional standing committees to more closely address the issues.

“I think we can really start to tack away at some of these issues like public safety and economic development and affordable housing and the list goes on and on,” the chairperson said.

Newly elected councilmember for the second ward, Evan Menist joined Salem’s desire to address affordable housing. “We need to come up with affordable housing solutions for all of our residents.” Menist also vowed to continue the improvements to the city’s planning, sharing Salem’s vision. Both Menist and Salem have indicated the updating the city’s decade-old comprehensive plan is a priority for the council.

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