Created: October 05, 2020 06:16 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — So what happens if the mayor decides to leave office or is forced to step down? The answers are in the city's charter and state law.
News10NBC Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean found the answers Monday.
State law says if you're convicted of a felony, you're out.
Brean asked the mayor if she planned to resign after the death of Daniel Prude was made public in September. She didn't answer. He asked her again Monday.
"Mayor have you considered resigning?" He asked the mayor as she walked through a throng of supporters outside city court.
The mayor did not answer. He asked her attorney, Joe Damelio, if he has spoken to the mayor about resigning if it would solve her current problem.
Damelio said he had not and reminded the media that the mayor pleaded not guilty.
Article III of the City Charter says if the office of mayor is vacant, the deputy mayor takes over. Since we're more than halfway through the mayor's term, there is no special election.
The deputy mayor, in this case, Jim Smith, would serve until a new mayor is sworn in on New Year's Day, 2022.
The City Charter gives City Council the power to remove an elected official as long as three-fourths of the council votes yes. That means six out of the eight council members.
Blair Horner, NY Public Interest Research Group: "It certainly is a shocker when an elected official gets indicted for campaign finance violations."
Blair Horner runs the New York Public Interest Research Group. Its focus is on government reform.
Brean: "In your experience, when an elected official particularly in the executive brand, a mayor or county executive, is charged and indicted with a felony, what happens next?
Horner: "Well there's two different things that happen. One is the legal system plays out at whatever speed it plays out. And then there's the public arena. And it's never good news if you're a public official and you get indicted."
Brean: "We're talking about campaign finance in a race where the mayor won 62% of the vote, more than her two challengers combined. So in 2017, the voters said they want Lovely Warren to be the mayor so who's the injured party here?
Horner: "Well the law is the law. So you can somehow just excuse violations of law by who won the election victory. The law matters. We live under a rule of law system and when someone violates it, the public is the injured party."
There is a track record in New York of politicians working while under indictment.
Chris Collins did it in Congress. He even won re-election, but he resigned when he pled guilty to insider trading.
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