And the new Syracuse City Councilman is… not me

When a City Councilman resigned and a vacancy was created, I was one of 14 who applied to fill his position. Here is what I said to the City Council during last night’s Meeting (the omitted the struck-out section during my presentation).

I feel that any position with the power to tax or limit individual liberties should rightfully be filled through an election by the People. Ideally that’s how this vacancy would be filled, but current circumstance and State Law prescribes otherwise in this instance.

When a vacancy in the Supreme Court arises it’s tradition to fill the vacancy with a like-minded individual: if the position was held by a “liberal” Justice, persons with a Liberal background are considered above those with a Conservative background, and vice versa. If we are to use that model tonight, we should appoint the person who’s views are in-line with former Councilman Kimmel. I’ve sided with him on the majority of his votes.

During public comment to fill a previous vacancy, many residents voiced their request to fill the position with someone who could add some ethnic diversity to the Council. I don’t feel that race or ethnicity should be used to disqualify someone from consideration—I don’t think they should be used to specifically qualify someone either. However, out of respect for those who feel otherwise, as a member of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah I can bring a measure of ethnic diversity to the Council. I’ve been unable to find another Native American that has held a seat on the Council; this could be an opportunity for a positive headline in the local papers – something our City desperately needs.

I’ve been passionately active in our City government. When a previous Council tried to change our form of government they held a “debate”. No one showed up to argue against them. A one-sided debate isn’t a debate at all. I refused to sit idly by. I rose from the audience, took a seat on the opposing side, and argued against the change. Because of my actions some claimed I was in the Mayor’s pocket, but later, when that Mayor failed to carry out his statutory duty, I called him on it – no one on that Council did. Recently I discovered that the City was carrying out its Council Meetings without a set of Rules of Order and Procedure, as required by State Law, I pushed until the Council remedied the situation. When an unlawful section was included in those Rules, I successfully lobbied for its removal. When the Mayor issued an order in violation of State Law, I stood my ground and refused to be bullied; I’d done my research and knew the law. These examples illustrate that I stand on principle and the law, not allegiances with individuals.

Lastly, I am the elected Vice Chair and an elected State Delegate for the Syracuse 08 Precinct, which covers approximately 550 families in the heart of Syracuse. I’ve served in these capacities for the last 2 years, without missing a single meeting or failing to cast a single vote. Since these neighbors have already entrusted me to represent their views on both State and Federal issues, I would have no difficulty representing them on the City Council.

My name is Joe Levi, and I thank you for your consideration.

After almost 45 minutes of deliberation in a Closed Session, the Council returned and ultimately appointed Brian Duncan to the position by a 4 to 1 margin. With his legal background I expect that he’ll be able to reign in our City Attorney and be responsive to the will of the people.

I support Councilmembers Shingleton, Johnson, and Lisonbee in their votes, and welcome Councilman Duncan aboard!

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