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Troy council president Mantello discusses plan to fill city vacancies, transition to mayor's office

Troy City Council President Carmella Mantello is preparing to become the next mayor of the Collar City.


The Republican defeated Democratic challenger Nina Nichols to replace Democratic Mayor Patrick Madden, who is term limited.


Mantello says two of her priorities are filling dozens of city positions and restoring morale among public employees. WAMC's Lucas Willard caught up with Mantello to talk about the upcoming transition and her strategy to fill vacancies.


It's going to be an all-out aggressive push to really get talent in City Hall, to get diversity and to get folks to know that we have these vacancies. We're not on LinkedIn and those simple things are going to happen. So, you know, when you talk about the vacancies, the monies are there. They're budgeted, etc. It's just they, the city, the mayor, and some department heads say, ‘Well, we can compete with the private sector.’ One of the things I'm gonna tell staff from day one, ‘I don't want to hear can’t.’ I heard that first week at the Canal Corporation, I oversaw 500 employees, $120 million budget and every time I turned around to talk about new, innovative ideas, ‘Oh, Carmella, we can’t do that.’ I don't want to hear that. I want to hear, ‘We can do that but we need an A, B, and C.’ This is not going to be a can’t-do administration, it's going to be, ‘OK, how can we do this within the confines we're in?’ And that's where people really step up to the plate, Lucas, and I gotta tell you, the Empire State greenways, the Hudson River Valley Water Trail, those ideas? Yes, the governor announced them, those ideas came from staff that worked for me. So I know right now, so many employees have ideas, and they have great ideas, some won't be able to accomplish, maybe some not, but we want to hear from them. And they really haven't felt a part of that team and that process.


Do you have any picks for a deputy mayor? Any appointments or nominations that you'd like to make once you take office in January?

Yeah, you know, over the next few days, we will be coming out with our transition team, which will also include the announcement of a deputy mayor. And then from there, Lucas, we are going to have changes, no doubt about it. We're looking at code, looking at general services, etc. But at the same time, what I'm hoping over the next several weeks, that we've received not just new ideas from the transition team, but also the transition team is going to be very diverse, it's going to hit every corner of diversity. And that transition team hopefully gets maybe some tentacles out there to lure some, you know, new talent, fresh talent, fresh ideas. Instead of saying that, I'm going in to January's very open minded at the same time work is of course, I know what I want to do. But guess what, what I want to do I have an idea. I'm not closed minded to hear from other folks, to hear from our neighborhoods, and, you know, really get those fresh ideas and new people and hopefully lure some talent into those 40 vacancies that you and I just talked about. So, I have an idea what I want to do, but I'm on also not close-minded. I'm really hoping that the transition team and the outreach that we plan to do really lure some new and fresh ideas and people.


So, speaking of the transition, have you been working with Mayor Madden over the last couple of weeks? And will you be working with Mayor Madden moving forward as you transition into January?

I'm so glad that you bring it up, Lucas, because we do have a meeting at nine o'clock on Monday morning. I am hopeful that the mayor really works with us to make this transition as smooth as possible. And, you know, I want to add like a lot of folks, they think being Council President, you know everything inside now to City Hall. And I really want to stress, I know a third, I’m on the legislative side. I have an idea, of course, of the 24/7 day to day, of course. But that 24/7 day to day, once I get under the hood, meaning get into office January 1 and get under that hood, I'll have a really good idea that 24/7, the day to day, the maintenance and operations and things to that nature, and I saw that Canal. You think you have an idea but until you get in there and get under that hood, that's where you're able to see that 24/7 day to day and you know, I'm looking forward to learning as executive, the 24/7 day to day. And I'm looking forward to looking at things differently, Lucas. You know, the city has essentially been running with a tweak here and there the same way for, you know, 10, 20 years. And we're gonna look at things differently. And we're going to just bring maybe some fresh ideas, new perspectives, departments are going to be looked at. And, you know, we're really going to ensure that the people of Troy are going to see their services for the taxes and fees that they pay.


As you transition from city council president to mayor, Sue Steele will be taking your current job as city council president. You've worked with Sue on the council for a number of years now. How do you expect your working relationship to be moving ahead as she takes the reins as city council president?

Sure, hopefully a positive one, you know, I’m not naive. Sue is a Democrat. But I have and as you know, these next several weeks, I have shown that people have tried that you really need to be an independent and be independent when your’re council president with a Democrat majority. So I've shown that, and I think that's one of the many reasons I prevailed this past November is because people saw ‘Listen, this girl was council president with a Democrat majority and was able to work with the mayor, who is a Democrat, and get things done.’ And yes. Are there gonna be times that we philosophically disagree? Absolutely. But at the same time, you know, Sue is in position I am in now, with a Democrat majority, she has a Republican majority. And so right off Jump Street she, you know, obviously is going to really have to really bend to work with that majority and I learned that firsthand. You're the council president, but you're one of seven votes, you really oversee the meetings, and you oversee where legislation goes, but at the end of the day, you need to work with the six other council members.

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