News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.
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Otsego County Board of Representatives

Worrisome Facebook Post Says, Drain Swamp In Cooperstown

Worrisome Facebook Post Says,

‘Drain Swamp In Cooperstown’

This was the Facebook posting considered worrisome enough to move the Otsego County Board of Representatives from its usual chambers to the greater security of the county courthouse and to ask County Richard J. Devlin Jr. to provide a special security contingent at today’s county board meeting.  When Bob Force arrived to attend the meeting, his vehicle was searched for weapons, but nothing was found.  Force, who lost his Gilbertsville home and farm in the 2014 tax auction, then delivered a prepared presentation to county reps, criticizing them for what happened to him.
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questionnaire — james hoffman

JAMES HOFFMAN

COUNTY BOARD OF REPRESENTATIVES, DISTRICT 2

COMMUNITY OF RESIDENCE: Pittsfield

EDUCATION: Army Corp of Engineers, Army Airborne School

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Owner/Operator, Oneonta Redemption Center, South Side Drive, Oneonta

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: School fundraising, Mentoring kids/teens to learn that good work ethics result in what they receive

FAMILY: married , three children

PHILOSOPHY OF GOVERNMENT: Government can’t fix our problems, government is the problem

MAJOR ISSUES FACING OTSEGO COUNTY:  Lack of leadership and direction

MY QUALITIES: Military leadership, family values and common sense !

STATEMENT: Otsego county has all the resources to become a great county again, minus some vital leadership. I-88, a railroad system and a central location in the Northeast are all assets that could and should become better utilized. Our county government seems to cater to special interest groups and not always the needs of the communities.

Public assistance and pacifying a drug problem, yet we can’t afford 24-7 sheriff patrols. The county needs to prioritize and fix these problems not pacify them. Pointing fingers and complaining has not and will not fix anything, good leadership does.

There is only one candidate in District 2 of Otsego County who has the leadership experience of leading soldiers on the field of battle and only one candidate who knows firsthand the problems facing small businesses today after being in business for 10 years.

Unity ,Leadership, Common Sense, and an employment-based direction! That is what we need in this county and that is what I am determined to bring to Cooperstown. Cooperstown, get ready because I’m coming and the people of District 2 are coming with me!

The only way we can fix what’s broken, is by VOTING, Tuesday, Nov. 7. See you there !

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CANDIDATES QUESTIONNAIRES: 12 Races Contested For County Board

POLLS OPEN 6 a.m.-9 p.m., NOV. 7

12 Races Contested

For County Board

The Otsego County office complex, upper Main Street, Cooperstown. (AllOTSEGO.com)

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.

DISTRICT 1, Unadilla

Ed Frazier, Republican

Tom Spychalski, Democrat

DISTRICT 2, Morris/Butternuts/Pittsfield

Michele Farwell, Democrat

James Hoffman, Republican

William Hunt, Independent

DISTRICT 3, Otego/Laurens

Kathy Clark, Republican

Cathy Nardi, Democrat

DISTRICT 4, Town of Oneonta

Andrew Stammel, Democrat

Breck Tarbell, Republican

DISTRICT 5, Hartwick/Milford/New Lisbon

Meg Kennedy, Republican

Pat Ryan, Democrat

DISTRICT 6, Worcester/Maryland

/Westford/Decatur

Chad McEvoy, Democrat

Peter Oberacker, Republican

DISTRICT 7, Cooperstown/Middlefield

/Cherry Valley/Roseboom

Leslie Berliant, Democrat

David Bliss, Republican

DISTRICT 8, Cooperstown/Town of Otsego

Andrew Marietta, Democrat

Tim Walker, Republican

DISTRICT 9, Springfield/Richfield

Nicole Dillingham, Democrat

Keith McCarty, Republican

DISTRICT 10, Burlington/Edmeston/Pittsfield

Dan Wilber, Republican, unopposed

DISTRICT 11, City of Oneonta, Wards 1,2

Gary Koutnik, Democrat, unopposed

DISTRICT 12, City of Oneonta, Wards 3, 4

Craig Gelbsman, Republican

Adrienne Martini, Democrat

DISTRICT 13, City of Oneonta, Wards 5,6

Len Carson, Republican

Danny Lapin, Democrat

DISTRICT 14, City of Oneonta, Wards 7,8

Liz Shannon, Democrat

Wilson Wells, Independent

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questionnaire — lizabeth shannon

LIZABETH SHANNON

Lizabeth Shannon

COUNTY BOARD OF REPRESENTATIVES, DISTRICT 14

COMMUNITY OF RESIDENCE: City of Oneonta, Ward 7

EDUCATION: B.S., Textile Design, Philadelphia University; AAS Professional Crafts – Handweaving, Haywood Community College, Clyde, N.C.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: 13 years’ experience as Design Director, designer or stylist for U.S. textile industry – 11 years in textile mills; Designer/owner of reZILience handwoven fine craft products

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Alderman, City of Oneonta Common Council; co-founder of Fabulous First Fridays

PHILOSOPHY OF GOVERNMENT: The government should be the voice of the people.

MAJOR ISSUES FACING OTSEGO COUNTY: Need for creating appropriate jobs and housing, so people can afford to live and work in the county; need to consider new educational opportunities and job training; need to balance economic development with conserving natural resources; need to continue to address the opioid crisis; need for county-wide broadband; need for county government to be more transparent, inclusive and efficient

 MY QUALITIES: I was born in Oneonta and graduated from OHS. My experience as a legislator on the Common Council makes me the most qualified candidate in my district. I’ll be able to hit the ground running on Jan. 1.

 STATEMENT: People are concerned about government leadership. I will help my constituents become involved citizens who work proactively to improve our county.

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questionnaire — marietta

ANDREW MARIETTA

COUNTY BOARD OF REPRESENTATIVES, DISTRICT 8

COMMUNITY OF RESIDENCE: Fly Creek 

EDUCATION: Andrew has a bachelor’s degree in history and certificate in business administration from Creighton University.  He has a master’s in museum studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program.  He also has a NYS insurance broker’s license.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Andrew is a VP of Regional Development for the New York Council of Nonprofits, and for the past 14 years, has assisted over a hundred Otsego County community organizations in the areas of governance, strategic planning, marketing, human resources, revenue generation and risk management. He has worked with organizations like the Cooperstown Food Pantry, Family Service Association, Family Resource Network, Opportunities for Otsego, Girls on the Run Central New York, Cooperstown Art Association and The Smithy, Cooperstown Concert Series, Otsego County Conservation Association, Otsego Land Trust, Susquehanna Animal Shelter, Habitat for Humanity Otsego County, and many other organizations serving our community. In addition, he is a licensed broker, providing insurance assistance and guidance to local businesses. He served for six years on the Cooperstown Chamber Board, with two years as the Board President, and he rejoined the Board two years ago and now serves as the Treasurer. He understands the value of the Chamber to businesses and the community. A strong Chamber means success for everyone. He has worked in marketing and tourism, and continues to assist cultural organizations like museums and arts councils locally and all across NYS. Andrew also has his own apartment business, which includes 15 rentals offering 12 month leases and providing homes to over 20 community members. He is often working on these buildings and takes pride in providing quality housing for local and new Cooperstown residents. Andrew has invested in Cooperstown, and he understands that rebuilding our population is crucial to our area’s future success. Because of that, he only rents to year-round renters, forgoing short term profit from tourist rentals for year-round residents who add to, and become part of, our community. He understands the needs and challenges of the community and region and the importance of vision and action to bring success to Cooperstown and the Town of Otsego.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Andrew has been involved and dedicated to community service for decades and continues this important work in helping our community. Andrew served 4 years on the Cooperstown Central School Board. Andrew is a past Chair of the Cooperstown Winter Carnival Committee. Andrew served for 6 years on the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce Board and rejoined two years ago and serves as the Treasurer. He presently serves on the Board of Mothers and Babies Perinatal Network, a service organization helping families in Otsego and surrounding counties, where he is the Vice President and serves on the Marketing and Governance Committees. He is on the Board of Cornell Cooperative Extension Otsego and Schoharie Counties. He and his wife Melissa founded and installed Cooperstown’s first Little Free Library at their Chestnut rental property. The Cooperstown Little Free Library is focused on increasing access to free books for readers of all ages and offering the opportunity to exchange books. 

FAMILY: Andrew and Melissa have two children, Caroline (11) and Charlotte (7).

PHILOSOPHY OF GOVERNMENT:  Andrew’s philosophy regarding Otsego County government is focused on transparency, clear communication and partnership. He has made a significant impact and brought about positive change by working with his Republican colleagues and also by promoting and sharing Otsego County government information and documents through www.facebook.com/iloveotsego. Furthermore, he strongly advocated for videotaping the County Board meetings and worked with www.allotsego.com to make this possible. And yet, there is still a lack of communication coming from our County leadership, which is problematic and creates a transparency issue, miscommunication, misinformation and mistrust. Andrew is committed to strengthening the County’s management and governance operations and building on the current bi-partisan partnership between Representatives. He understands that the operating committees need to be improved and open dialogue encouraged with County department heads. Restoring trust and confidence is dependent on communication and accessibility of information. Otsego County government can better leverage information and develop policies and procedures that will bring success to Otsego County departments, partners, local businesses and municipalities.

 MAJOR ISSUES FACING OTSEGO COUNTY:

Key Reasons for Re-election of Andrew Marietta as County Representative for District 8:

  • Continue the bi-partisan work with my Republican colleagues on the County Board to develop and hire a County Manager/Administrator, bringing a central point of contact and management to strengthen Otsego County operations. This position will bring continuity to a County Board that changes every two years (2016 had 7 new Reps out of 14- a 50% turnover), as well as the County committee system drastically changing every year (County Chair Clark changed the majority of the committees, putting new chairs in place who were not even on their committee the previous year). 
  • Institute term limits for County Representatives. This is key to keeping Representatives engaged and for them to maintain a high level of commitment to their public service role. 
  • Elect a new County leader, which will open the lines of communication amongst the County Representatives and County personnel. A new County Chair is essential to the future of Otsego County.  The current Chair has never outlined a vision for Otsego County or delivered a state of the County laying out aspirations and goals to address. The current County leadership has undermined the strategic planning process and given little support the finalized strategic plan. Otsego County needs a Chair that will work with all parties and department heads and fully support the implementation of Otsego County’s strategic plan.    
  • Implement County management meetings that include County Representatives and County department heads meeting and working together as a group (no such meetings have ever happened in the history of the County).
  • Implement an orientation process for all new County Representatives elected, including developing a governance and operations manual outlining how the County operates and defining policies and procedures key for County Representatives. No such orientation or infrastructure exists.
  • Restructuring Otsego County Representatives operating committees to become more efficient and eliminate duplication and micromanagement. The County’s Administration Committee should be populated by chairs from all operating committees. This approach will strengthen committee decision making and eliminate duplication.  
  • Reestablish OtsegoNow as an active, economic development agency for Otsego County. An actual working partnership must be created with OtsegoNow and Otsego County that involves information sharing and shared goals. This effort will also include appointing new County Representative leadership to the OtsegoNow Board that better represents Otsego County. More importantly, new County Representative leadership will proactively communicate and share information about OtsegoNow with the Otsego County Board of Representatives.
  • Strengthen and expand the partnership with Destination Marketing to better leverage Otsego County’s investment in tourism, including growing bed tax revenues.

MY QUALITIES:

Andrew first moved to Otsego County, coming to Cooperstown to attend the Cooperstown Graduate Program and then joining the Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmers’ Museum to work in tourism and revenue development. Andrew came to learn how Cooperstown and the Town of Otsego, including our many museums and other tourist attractions and small businesses, are economic drivers for Otsego County. Andrew transitioned to the New York Council of Nonprofits, and has assisted numerous community organizations that support our social safety net and cultural activities. He came to understand the infrastructure needs of our community and how we come together to support each other. He started his own business and invested in offering quality 12 month rental housing. He came to see the importance of small business to Cooperstown and the Town of Otsego and the impact of investing in the community. He joined the Cooperstown School Board and worked in partnership with his fellow board members and the administration to achieve significant health insurance savings and better leverage Cooperstown Central School as an asset for the County. He learned the importance of education to our community and providing the tools and resources to make our students more successful and attract more residents. Andrew has the community knowledge, business experience, entrepreneurial skills, governance understanding and public service record that is required to serve successfully and effectively as Otsego County Representative for District 8.

STATEMENT: As a collaborator, I have and will continue to work behind the scenes to strengthen Otsego County government, leveraging the assets we have to achieve the best return on investment. I am dedicated to improving the quality of life and economic impact of Cooperstown and Town of Otsego by building upon Otsego County’s opportunities. I understand the planning process and have worked with organizations throughout our community to map out a vision and plan for the future. There are no silver bullet solutions for Otsego County. In all my interactions and community involvement, I have learned our success is interconnected. As a business owner, father, community volunteer, and public servant, I ask for your vote to re-elect me as the Otsego County Representative for District 8, and together, we will usher in a new era of collaboration and bi-partisanship in Otsego County government. 

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questionnaire — kennedy

MEG KENNEDY

COUNTY BOARD OF REPRESENTATIVES, DISTRICT 5,

(HARTWICK, MILFORD, NEW LISBON)

Meg Kennedy

COMMUNITY OF RESIDENCE: Hartwick

EDUCATION: B.S. Cornell University

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: 24 years experience in family owned and operated horticultural business in Hartwick

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: serve on governing bodies of 2 farmers markets 2008 – present, serve on Town of Hartwick Planning Board 2010- present, member of St. Mary’s “Our Lady of the Lake” Parish.

FAMILY: 11 siblings, many in-laws, numerous nieces and nephews, parents

PHILOSOPHY OF GOVERNMENT: Government has a responsibility to spend tax monies responsibly.  Government functions to serve the people by providing the best service in the most cost effective manner to protect the public safety and provide safe roads and infrastructure, encourage economic development and provide services as mandated.

MAJOR ISSUES FACING OTSEGO COUNTY: creating jobs and educational opportunities for residents and young people.  Keeping and supporting agriculture as a economic strength. 

MY QUALITIES:  I am a good listener and a fast learner.  I work well in groups.  I have good communication skills.  These qualities have served me well in my first term on the County Board.

STATEMENT: I have enjoyed my work on the County Board of Representatives.  My attendance each month at the town meetings in Milford, Hartwick and New Lisbon keeps me in touch with issues that I can work on at the county level.  My attendance at my committee meetings has helped to shape decisions that have resulted in positive outcomes for the county – budgets under the tax cap, support for the Farmland Protection Plan and work on the organization of the Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank are some examples.

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questionnaire — breck tarbell

BRECK TARBELL

COUNTY BOARD OF REPRESENTATIVES, DISTRICT 4

Brett Tarbell

COMMUNITY OF RESIDENCE: I live at 142 Morningside Drive, Oneonta, in Otsego County District 4

EDUCATION:  I have an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: I have over 30 years of business management along with 10 years as a small business owner

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: I have been a member of the Oneonta Lions for 10 years and have been the President for 4 of those years! And through my business my wife and I have supported the American Cancer Society, Hospice and the Susquehanna Animal Shelter. Also starting today, my business is registered with the “Grace for Vets” program, where we will provide a free car wash on Nov. 11 and April 25 to any veteran!

FAMILY:  My wife Marina and I are both in a second marriage and bring a little Brady Bunch to the table. I have 2 sons, Christopher and Michael, and a daughter Joanie along with Michael’s wife Gina and my 2 fantastic Grandsons, David and Judd. And Marina has brought 2 great-stepsons Andrew and Dereck Frisch to the mix.

PHILOSOPHY OF GOVERNMENT: My thoughts on government are that it needs to be controlled,  transparent and with term limits. Our representatives have to be held accountable and have some skin in the game!

MAJOR ISSUES FACING OTSEGO COUNTY:

  • Economic Development; without that nothing else will work!
  • Infrastructure, we have a great start with I-88, the railyards and Oneonta Airport, but we need to keep these at their best!
  • Public Safety; with the growing opioid problem and growing homelessness we need transparency and communications at all levels!

Last; “Make governments more efficient to serve the people better.” And we need a sense of urgency in our representatives!

 MY QUALITIES: With the experience that I bring from construction/business management, I totally understand that sense of urgency.  I have been in all types of negotiations, I understand how to handle a budget and, last, I have the commonsense and knowledge to put all of these qualities together in one package.

STATEMENT: I just want everyone to know that this is a job that I don’t take lightly! I have always followed politics but I also knew in the past that working a fulltime job does not allow a person to give the proper amount of exposure to the issues and training that are around us at all times. Now I have come to a time in my life that I can devote the time necessary to do this job the way it should be done. The motto for the Lions Club is “We Serve” and that’s just what I will do for you, I promise to be there at the meetings to represent you!

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questionnaire — david bliss

DAVE BLISS

COUNTY BOARD OF REPRESENTATIVES, DISTRICT 7 

COMMUNITY OF RESIDENCE: Middlefield

EDUCATION:

Cooperstown Central School, Regents Diploma; SUNY Oneonta, BA in History with a minor in Economics, BS and MS in Social Science Education;  NYS Real Estate Brokers License with over 225 hours of Continuing Education credits;  NYS Professional Coaching License with over 120 hours of Continuing Education credits

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE:

Owner/Operator of 300-acre organic farm (1983-present), NYS Real Estate Broker (1995-present), CCS Girls Varsity Softball Coach (2001-present).

Town of MIddlefield: Zoning Board of Appeals (2 years), Town Board (2 years), Town Supervisor (24 years).  Otsego County Board of Representatives (2016 – present)

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT:

Member of the Board of Directors of The Farmers’ Museum and of the Otsego Land Trust; Member of Cooperstown Rotary Club, Rotary International Youth Exchange (host family and youth counselor).

American Legion Baseball, Cooperstown Sports Booster Club, Youth soccer and baseball, Fetterman Award Winner, Oneonta Daily Star and Utica Observer-Dispatch Coach of the Year Awards.

FAMILY:

Married 34 years to my wife Kim, a teacher in Richfield Springs Central School.  Three adult children: Rachel, Eric and Ethan, and one granddaughter.

 

PHILOSOPHY OF GOVERNMENT:

As Abraham Lincoln said “The legitimate object of government is to do for people what needs to be done, things that they cannot do for themselves: the making and maintaining roads and bridges, providing for the helpless, providing schools, and the forming and maintaining of the military, police, and civil departments.”  I believe in doing so we provide everyone the opportunity for personal liberty and economic success.

 

MAJOR ISSUES FACING OTSEGO COUNTY:

Investing in our infrastructure including roads, bridges, communications and high speed internet.  In the past two years we have made significant progress and the foundation has been put in place to continue at an even more rapid pace.  We need to complete the process of determining the duties and responsibilities of a county manager and fill the position. Although many NY counties have a manager/executive, research shows their duties and authority vary greatly.  We need to find the right fit for Otsego County.   Reroute XNG trucks so they travel Interstate Highways to the fullest extent possible.  Continue to look for ways to save money through shared services, a process that has saved the county tens of thousands of dollars in the past year. Addressing the opioid epidemic.

 

MY QUALITIES:

My well documented record of public service has been one of honesty, fairness, transparency, open communication, low taxes, investment in people and infrastructure, as well as environmental stewardship. I keep an open mind on issues and listen to all sides without confrontation, therefore I have excelled at building bipartisan consensus to better serve residents.  As a result, I have been endorsed by leading members of the Republican, Democrat and Independence parties.

 

STATEMENT:

As with any job, there is a steep learning curve for a someone new.  I was better prepared than most because of my 24 years as Middlefield Town Supervisor.  In my short tenure on the board I have spent time listening to, and learning from, our county employees and department heads as well as town and county board representatives, gaining their trust, confidence and support.  I have been tagged as the quiet leader of bipartisan reform by the Freeman’s Journal newspaper. We have a great deal of talent in our county and we have made significant progress in just 21 months.   More importantly, the foundation has been put in place for further progress at an accelerated rate.  I ask for your continued support to implement these programs for your benefit.

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Oneonta’s County Rep Candidates Debate This Evening At Morris Hall

Oneonta’s County Rep Candidates

Debate This Evening At Morris Hall

ONEONTA – Six candidates from Oneonta running for the Otsego County Board of Representatives will debate at 7 this evening at SUNY Onenta’s Morris Hall. They are:

  • District 12  (Wards 3 & 4):   Craig Gelbsman and Adrienne Martini
  • District 13  (Wards 5 & 6):   Leonard Carson, Jr. and Danny Lapin
  • District 14  (Wards 7 & 8):   Lizabeth Shannon and Wilson Wells

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21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103