Kingston Ward 7 alderman Michael Olivieri announced his resignation from the Common Council, on Friday, July 14. Olivieri has been hired as business manager by the Kingston City Water Department.
“It’s considered a conflict of interest,” explained Olivieri, “because I’d be a city employee, while also voting on matters for the city.”
After being passed over for the Democratic endorsement in 2021, Olivieri ran on the Republican and Conservative lines, defeating Democratic nominee Laura Nordstrom in the general election, 354 votes to 300. Nordstrom has indicated she will not be running again in this election cycle.
Olivieri’s resignation marks the end to the tenure and influence of a viewpoint considered unconventional for a Democrat.
As Olivieri points out, he is a Democrat who ran on the Republican line. He comes from the position that incentives are always preferable to political coercion as encouragement.
“You’re not forcing someone’s hand,” said Olivieri. “It’s kind of like, quote unquote, free will.”
This time around, the Democratic endorsement had been offered to Olivieri, with the single condition that he abandon his minority leader status in the council.
Minority leadership meant that Olivieri was a member of every committee, which he said was an exhausting membership to keep up with.
Olivieri sees accepting city employment as a return to valuable time vested into his pension. “It’s a pay raise,” said Olivieri. “It’s back into the retirement system.”
Formerly dispatch and operations coordinator for Ulster County Area Transit (UCAT), Olivieri left that job during a time of upheaval in the directorship, a difficult decision after his having been with the county for 14 years.
Olivieri can see a political future for himself in the county legislature, should the opportunity arise and the timing be right. “If Pete [Criswell] said, you know, I’m done, I’m not gonna run again,” said Olivieri, “I would throw my hat in. But not while he’s still in. I think he’s doing a great job.”
Mayor Steve Noble has the authority to appoint a council member to a vacated seat, and he has opened an application process for Oliveria’s seat. To be considered, applicants must have their primary residence in the current Ward 7 boundary. Residents interested in serving should send a resume and cover letter to Mayor Noble at email@example.com or by mail to 420 Broadway, Kingston, NY 12401. Applications will be accepted until an appointment is made. The appointed alderperson will serve until December 31, 2023.