In a surprise to most followers of local government, city of Dunkirk Councilwoman-at-Large Stephanie Kiyak has resigned from her position effective immediately. Kiyak submitted a one-sentence letter of resignation Tuesday to council members.
"I've served my community to the best of my ability. I need to step down at this time," Kiyak told the OBSERVER in response to an email.
Fourth Ward Councilwoman Stacy Szukala said it was unfortunate.
"She has a lot of good points and she tried to bring the right things up to make the people aware," Szukala said. "I think her heart is in the right place and I think she let the things that have continued to happen, business as usual, get to her, because there's so many things she has tried to change and we have tried to change as a council and those things just keep happening. It's sad, because we need people. Even though we don't agree all the time, which we didn't, I think she was just trying to do the right thing.
"I think it's unfortunate that we lost her."
Szukala said she spoke to Kiyak Tuesday evening.
"Again, we didn't agree on everything and some of the things she brought up are from a big city, where she's been before. Trying to integrate that into a place like Dunkirk is very difficult because people don't want to change," Szukala stated.
Second Ward Councilman William J. Rivera said he was very surprised by Kiyak's decision.
"I'm still not sure what to think about it. As soon as I gathered myself I called her. I apologized, I thanked her and I wished her well, a very short conversation," he added. "No indication as to why. It was kind of obvious she wasn't interested in talking about it."
First Ward Councilman Michael Michalski was asked his thoughts on Kiyak's decision.
"I was very surprised, actually I was pretty shocked when I got the information. There was no explanation as to why and I don't want to guess at the reasons. I'm sure she has her reasons," Michalski replied. "We didn't always see eye to eye on everything, but she definitely put the time into the position. I don't think anybody can say otherwise and for that I respected her.
"I was just surprised. I think a lot of people were."
Mayor Anthony J. Dolce was asked his thoughts about the resignation.
"She turned it in earlier (Tuesday) and I'll just use this opportunity to wish her the best in her future endeavors," he replied, adding he didn't know the reason and didn't feel comfortable speculating about Kiyak's decision.
Dolce was asked if the resignation was a total surprise.
"Yes, I would say getting it (Tuesday) was," he replied.
Frank Gawronski is the Dunkirk Democratic City Committee chairman.
"I did call her when I heard. I'll let her speak for herself, it's a surprise and I'll just leave it at that," he said. "Obviously we'll be in the process of trying to find someone to replace her."
Gawronski said he had no candidates in mind at this time.
Filling a vacancy of an elected official is covered in the City Code under Section 2-2.03.
"B. A vacancy of an elective office shall be filled by appointment by a majority vote of the Common Council within thirty (30) days of such vacancy. If after thirty (30) days no majority is reached, the Councilman at Large or Acting Councilman at Large will fill such vacancy. The appointee shall serve until the commencement of the calendar year next succeeding the first general election after the happening of the vacancy, at which a successor may be elected, and the vacancy shall be filled at such election for the unexpired term. Any person appointed to fill a vacancy shall possess all the qualifications required of the office as set forth in the Charter.
Any person appointed to fill a Common Council vacancy shall be a member of the same political party by which such person was elected and may be nominated by the City Committee of such party. Such City Committee nomination shall be considered a non-binding recommendation. In the event the person vacating the Common Council office was elected with no party affiliation, the Common Council may appoint any qualified elector."
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