Both Carey and Alessio attended the Jan. 22 public hearing, but neither spoke publicly.
Another attorney, Anthony LaValle, who lives in the village at 101 Tulip St., had mounted a campaign opposing the elimination of the residency requirement. At last week's hearing, he presented a petition to the board signed by 55 residents opposing Local Law No. 1.
"If it ain't broke, why are we trying to fix it?" LaValle asked. "I believe this change is politically motivated. The mayor has a personal agenda to appoint a non-village resident."
The mayor should have made her appointment immediately after the vacancy occurred, LaValle said, citing an opinion rendered by the state Comptroller's Office. She should not have waited, he said, for the residency requirement to be debated.
"We are not children," LaValle said. "We can govern ourselves. We don't need to be governed by outsiders."
Former Mayor Jon Zoppola noted "hostility in the room," and suggested that the issue "could have been handled better."
State allows non-residents
Mayor Ward pointed out that state legislation passed in 1979, however, made it legal for villages with populations of less than 3,000 to look outside their borders for village justice candidates. Liverpool's population is 2,505, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.
Village voters have "total control" in choosing the village justice, Mayor Ward said, no matter where the judge resides.
The village justice earns about $7,000 annually, the acting judge $900.
The mayor said Alessio has been acting justice here for nearly a decade and has been presiding in Village Court on Tuesdays since Harding resigned Dec. 31.
Richard Ward, who served as Alessio's campaign manager in the 2007 Salina judicial race, accused LaValle of spreading "half-truths" and making "misleading statements." He urged to board to rescind the residency requirement to allow the mayor to appoint a judge with "knowledge and ability."
Following the hearing, Trustee Nick Kochan moved to table the local law until the board's next meeting Feb. 19.
Last fall, the village board officially rescinded a residency requirement for police officers.