ANDREW STAMMEL, D-DISTRICT 4
Editor’s Note: This is the first of six profiles, one each on the six new members of the Otsego County Board of Representatives elected Nov. 3, that will appear each Wednesday up until they take office Jan. 1. Next week, Megan Kennedy, R-District 5 (Hartwick, Milford and New Lisbon).
By DON MATHISEN • for AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Rep.-elect Andrew Stammel, D-Town of Oneonta – he will be the youngest member of the Otsego County Board of Representatives when he takes office Jan. 1 – said his top priority is economic development.
Stammel said people in his generation and younger demand high-speed Internet access.
Without it, “it is a deal breaker in terms of setting up a business, to be an at-home entrepreneur, or just quality of life at home,” said Stammel.
As a member of the Town of Oneonta Board, he supports Otsego Now’s “shovel-ready” site at Pony Farm (renamed the Oneonta Commerce Park) and is open to the proposed year-’round water park on the Route 28 corridor between Cooperstown and Oneonta.
“Anything that continues the hospitality industry into the winter months is helpful,” said Stammel.
The Oneonta-born lawyer is in favor of the county distributing a portion of the bed tax to municipalities.
“The towns that bear the brunt of tourism, should get some money back to help alleviate costs associated with that,” said Stammel.
He notes the county did not deliver on promised money to local governments in the 2015 budget and are not expected to do so in 2016.
Stammel said the money would make a real difference at the town level.
His second priority is dealing with the growing problem of opiate addiction. District Attorney John Muehl has said three-quarters of all felony indictments in the county are heroin-related.
“I’ve been serving on the Otsego County Opiate Task Force,” said Stammel. “You can’t arrest your way out of this issue. Treatment is the answer – early education, intervention and then treatment.”
Stammel will be required to resign his seat on the town board before taking office as a county rep.
He said it will then be up to the board to appoint a replacement. Stammel is urging interested parties to contact Supervisor Bob Wood about applying for the appointment.
“I don’t want to see it go to somebody who is just connected to the town board,” said Stammel.
Looking back on his tenure on the town board, he is most proud of his work advancing the Southside water project which will create a municipal water district serving residential communities and retail stores on Oneonta’s Southside along Route 23.
Stammel said he helped secure a state grand for the water district and then went door-to-door asking homeowners to sign petitions supporting its creation.
The project could begin construction as early as next year.
Stammel is a general practitioner attorney with an office on Chestnut Street in Oneonta.
“I do real estate, family law, matrimonial and some criminal law,” said Stammel.
He got into politics as an extension of his community involvement with the Boy Scouts, his church, the Rotary Club and ARC Otsego, where he serves on the board.
“I get restless, I get involved with things, I’d rather be busy than bored,” explained Stammel. “You can make a difference in a small town.”
He expects to spend about 20 hours a week working on county business. He’ll be paid $10,500 annually.
When asked which local politician he admires, he answered: “Rich Murphy did an excellent job as or county rep. He is absolutely the kind of rep I hope to be.”
Stammel grew up in Stamford, went to Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa., attended Syracuse University College of Law, spent a year in the Americorps program, is married, and does not have children.
For fun he goes hiking, kayaking, and camping.