COUNTY BOARD OF REPRESENTATIVES, DISTRICT 11 (unopposed)
COMMUNITY OF RESIDENCE: City of Oneonta
EDUCATION: BS in Education, Bucknell University; MS in Administration, SUNY Albany
PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: School Psychologist and Director of Special Education (OCSD)
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Hyde Hall Site Interpreter; Farmer’s Museum Dramatic Interpreter; Glimmerglobe Theater; Catskill Players Executive Committee and VP; Otsego County Democratic Committee Executive Committee; Oneonta Assembly of God.
FAMILY: Wife Abbey (married 1979), two sons: Randall (26) and Whitsun (23)
PHILOSOPHY OF GOVERNMENT: “There are some things that we can’t do unless we do them together. When we do them together, that’s called government.” Barney Frank
MAJOR ISSUES FACING OTSEGO COUNTY: Matching people to training and training to existing jobs. Preserving our awesome natural resources and landscape. Fighting back against the devastations of poverty. Building up our County human resources – and therefore quality services – after a decade of cuts.
STATEMENT: The County must begin to serve the needs of its citizens and not the political needs of its leaders. These are difficult times which require bold decisions. We need to plan carefully and thoughtfully for a short, medium and long-term future, and this process takes vision, hard work, and courage.
MY QUALITIES: Passion for democracy; work ethic; ability to collaborate; long experience and relationship with Otsego County residents from all walks of life.
EDUCATION: Wantagh High School, Wantagh, NY – 1968. BS in Ed – Bucknell University, 1972. MS in Admin – UAlbany – 1999
PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: School Psychologist, School Administrator, Historic Interpretation
COMMUNITY/POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT: Executive Committee, Otsego County Democratic Committee. Many years of Church governance and committee work, mostly in church growth. 30+ years working with families with disabled children in Oneonta and Otsego County and surrounding counties. Delegate to Democratic National Convention, 2012.
FAMILY: Wife Abbey, two sons: Randall (San Francisco) and Whitsun (Oneonta)
IN TWO OR THREE SENTENCES, EXPLAIN YOUR PHILOSOPHY OF GOVERNMENT: “There are some things that we can’t do unless we do them together. When we do them together, that’s called government.” (Congressman Barney Frank)
WHAT ARE THE THREE MAJOR ISSUES THE OTSEGO COUNTY BOARD OF REPRESENTATIVES FACES, AND HOW WOULD YOU ADDRESS THEM?
– Comprehensive Plan: Board looks at mid- and long-term planning for County: what do we want to be in the business of; prioritize our efforts; move toward greater effectiveness and efficiency in all areas, starting with highest priority issues.
– Coordinate all activities County-wide: This would probably (but not necessarily) be a County Manager, a kind of CEO for our two dozen departments and 500 employees.
– Budget: Longer-term budget development based on planning and coordination above.
WHAT QUALITIES/EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE THAT MAKES YOU THE BETTER CHOICE IN THIS RACE: Experience on the Board; 35 years working and living in Otsego County, both in the City and in many of the towns. Experience with management, budget and supervision. A passion to provide the benefits of governing to all citizens, with nobody left out.
IS THERE A STATEMENT YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH VOTERS? I’ve gotten to know hundreds of families in Oneonta from all walks of life during my career. I’ve talked with them about their hopes and dreams, especially for their children, and I’ve learned about their frustrations and anxieties. I’ve spent my whole career getting to know the people of Oneonta. And I’ve met too many families in Oneonta who have been left out of the benefits of democracy. Democracy is for every last citizen, with no one left out. If I’m reelected, I’ll continue to work for all of us. Fiscal responsibility, certainly. Hard choices, certainly. But no collateral damage. No one intentionally left out.
Over 400 people marched from Oneonta High School to Muller Plaza this morning as they took part in the national March For Our Lives protest for tougher gun legislation. Above, Caroline Bagby, a OHS senior and recent recipient of the Women’s Trailblazer Award, delivers an impassioned speech to those gathered in the plaza. Numerous people spoke including Mayor Gary Herzig, Assembly candidate Daniel Buttermann, Abbey Koutnik and others. At right, county Representative Danny Lapin, D-City of Oneonta, holds his sign high as the crowd marches down East Street during the first leg of the march. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
She was nominated and elected temporary chair of the reorganizational meeting, presiding over the transition of the chairmanship from Kathy Clark, R-Otego, to David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield.
And she emerged from the morning’s decision-making as chair of the Administration Committee – Ways & Means, through which all resolutions must flow before getting to the floor of the monthly county board meeting.
COOPERSTOWN – The Otsego County Board of Representatives this morning elected David Bliss, the former Middlefield town supervisor just elected to his second term, to be its chairman this year.
The vote was 10 “ayes,” two absentions, one absence, and a single “nay” from Kathy Clark, R-Otego, the chair Bliss replaced.
Unanimously, the reps then appointed Democrat Gary Koutnik, the veteran representative from the City of Oneonta, as the vice chair.
The absent county rep was Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, who departs as board vice chair. It was said he had to take his wife to the hospital.
The pairing of a Republican chair with Democratic vice chair is unusual but not unprecedented: Republican Sam Dubben and the late Rich Murphy, a Democrat, shared the leadership in 2010; and Republican Don Linberg was chair and Ron Feldstein vice chair in 2007.
ONEONTA – Mayor Gary Herzig, Town Supervisor Bob Wood, county board reps and local elected officials will be sworn in for new terms at 1 p.m. Monday, Jan 1., at Hartwick College’s Shineman Chapel. The new county Democratic chair, Kim Muller, will emcee.
Meanwhile, that morning, the new county treasurer, Allen Ruffles, will be sworn in at 11 a.m. at the county courthouse in Cooperstown by county Judge John Lambert.
Sustainable Otsego has endorsed the following candidates for county board: Leslie Berliant, Nicole Dillingham, Gary Koutnik, Danny Lapin, Andrew Marietta, Adrienne Martini, Chad McEvoy, Cathy Nardi, Pat Ryan, Liz Shannon, Tom Spychalski, and Andrew Stammel.
They all support the principles of sustainable living, economic self-reliance and home rule. As we face the future, it’s clear that we can no longer rely, as we used to, on distant governments and corporations to provide for our social and economic security. Increasingly, we’re going to have to do it ourselves. Our communities and our resources are repeatedly challenged; social and economic security is harder to come by. Incomes are low, jobs are scarce, and young people migrate elsewhere. For far too long, majorities on the county board have failed to respond to these challenges.
We need new leadership in Otsego County, especially on the county Board of Representatives. We need people, like the candidates above, who are ready to aggressively defend the interests of our communities. Otsego County desperately needs a voice of its own – and these candidates are the ones who can give it that voice. If you are happy with the way things are, vote for their opponents. But if you think we need a change, here’s a chance to do something about it.
Questionnaires that have been submitted so far by candidates for the Otsego County Board of Representatives in the Nov. 7 elections are highlighted below. As the rest of the candidates respond, the links will be updated. Please click on highlighted link to read, in candidates’ own words, why they are qualified to serve. And don’t forget to vote! Polls are open 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7.