SYRACUSE — The Syracuse City Council is preparing to fill a vacancy within the next 30 days.

Councilman Phil Orton, who this summer began a new job that requires him to travel, resigned last week in a letter sent to the city.

Orton said he had hoped his travel, which takes him all over the country, would have allowed him to keep his seat on the council, where he has served since January 2006.

"It's taken me a while deciding to give it up," Orton said last week from Wyoming.

But he said he realized that if he's not in Syracuse and can't vote, then he's costing the city and the residents who voted him into office.

Now it's the remaining council members' responsibility to select someone to fill Orton's seat.

Interested applicants have until Sept. 22 at 5 p.m. to submit a letter of interest and a resume. Qualified applicants must be registered voters and must have lived in Syracuse for the past 12 consecutive months.

Applications may be submitted in person at Syracuse City Hall, 1979 W. 1900 South, or by e-mail to cbrown@syracuseut.net, and applicants should be sure to highlight their qualifications for the position.

The council will interview applicants during a council meeting Sept. 23 and select someone to fill the vacancy. Whoever is selected will serve the remainder of Orton's term, which expires in January 2010.

Orton said he cherishes the time he served on the council and appreciates what he learned about city politics and local government.

It wasn't all sunshine and daisies.

There was a council spat with the mayor over job titles in 2006 and 2007 that resulted in a lawsuit and referendum election, a referendum over the city's alcoholic beverage ordinance in 2007 and a current flap surrounding the city's involvement in the Davis Technology and Economic Cooperative, which was formed by Clearfield, West Point and Syracuse with an idea to master plan 1,100 acres of farmland contiguous to the three cities.

Orton said some of the heaviest issues have been his favorite moments because of what he learned in the process.

Not completing his term brings at least one regret, he said.

"I wanted to start a citywide recycling program," he said, adding that he had been researching the issue and had planned to bring it forward to the City Council.


E-mail: jdougherty@desnews.com