Middletown mayor says legislator should resign over dismal attendance record

A mayor in Orange County is calling on his city’s elected official in county government to resign after the lawmaker has been a no-show at meetings for almost two years.
According to county documents obtained by News 12, Legislator Joel Sierra has the worst attendance record for a county legislator and has missed the last 23 consecutive meetings over 19 months.
“It’s unconscionable and it’s not appropriate. We are both Democrats, we were friends,” says Middletown Mayor Joe Destefano. “It saddens me to say it, but we have to draw the line somewhere. He should resign.”
Destefano says Sierra got hurt on the job as a City of Middletown firefighter last year and that he put in for an Article 78 permanent disability – which was denied since he had other employment as a legislator and business owner in a decision that was upheld by a county court judge.
News 12 tried getting reaching Sierra on his official phone number listed online, by text, and at his business – Sierra Automotive in Middletown - but hasn’t been able to get ahold of him.
According to court records obtained by News 12, Sierra claims he has severe headaches, blurred vision and “brain fog” from being hit in the head with a piece of machinery at work, but can still drive and otherwise function.
“He testified to the fact that he doesn’t have to do anything to collect that money and I think that is a statement that indicates he needs to step down,” says Destefano.
Legislative Chair Katherine Bonelli told News 12 by phone that Sierra hasn’t communicated the needs of his constituents for months and called his lack of attendance “unfortunate.”
“It is indeed unfortunate that Legislator Sierra has experienced prolonged health issues that have resulted in his absence. His absence, along with some other legislators, has become very problematic,” said Bonelli.
County records obtained by News 12 show a handful of absences by a number of elected legislative officials.
Bonelli says despite the concern with Sierra’s attendance, the legislature cannot legally remove him from office.
According to state online records, Sierra was paid $30,273 in 2022 to represent the residents of Middletown. His term is up in 2025.