Cohoes Common Council has no power to remove mayor despite resolution

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On Thursday, members of the Cohoes Common Council passed a resolution to ask Mayor Shawn Morse to either step down or take a leave of absence, but that is as far as their power extends.

“There is no law per our charter to remove a sitting mayor,” explained Bill Smith, Cohoes Common Council Vice President.

The decision to resign or take a leave of absence is ultimately the mayor’s choice. And while the common council doesn’t have power to remove him from office, lawyer Arnold Proskin said there is one person who does.

“I think that he can be removed,” said Proskin. “Of course the governor can just write a note and get rid of him. I don’t know whether that would happen. You see, he’s only been accused of these crimes. He hasn’t been convicted, so they aren’t gonna bounce him out right now.”

“If he’s found guilty,” explained Smith, “We can probably remove him then, and I’m gonna assume because I’m not a lawyer or a judge, that if he is found guilty there could potentially be jail time according to all the reports, that he would be likely done as mayor.”

But unless there is a conviction, a few things could happen:

The mayor can choose to stay in office, or he can take a leave of absence. If this happens, then the common council president will step in as acting mayor.

But If he resigns, then the president of the common council will become acting mayor until the term ends on December 31st.

However, Mayor Morse has already announced he’s seeking re-election, and will be facing 3 other candidates vying for his seat.

“He can still run, he can still get his signatures,” said Smith. “That’s the democratic process, so come the primary in June, it’s the people’s decision.”

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