NEW FACES AT 197 MAIN ST.
Editor’s Note: This profile is the first of three on newly elected Otsego County representatives who will take office Jan. 1.
By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Jill Basile saw her future as her father, Bruce, lay in a hospital bed.
“During that time I watched a lot of news,” she said. “I decided that I didn’t want to be the person who complained behind the scenes anymore. I wanted to do something.”
Her father passed away in April 2017, but his inspiration resulted in Basile’s election Nov. 5 to the Otsego County Board from District 14, which stretches south from the colleges to I-88. She succeeds Liz Shannon, who is stepping down.
“I figured this was my time to help the community that I grew up in. I missed the sense of helpfulness in my life,” she said. “I think people look at the large picture, but they don’t realize how much local politics affect their lives directly, and that’s why I’m here.”
A native of Oneonta, she received a bachelor’s in financial services from SUNY Cobleskill and joined Hartwick College, first as a residential director, then assistant director of Residential Life and Judicial Affairs.
With a master’s degree in student affairs administration from SUNY Binghamton, she joined Opportunities for Otsego’s Violence Intervention Program as a victim advocate.
“I decided on the county board because of my experience with the county,” she said.
For Basile, it quickly became clear that part of her political career would also involve animals. She began volunteering for the Susquehanna SPCA after she adopted her dog there in 2015 and became a board member in 2017.
“I have loved animals my whole life and after spotting Sasha and adopting her from the shelter, I wanted to give back,” she said.
As a board member of the SQSPCA, one of her first goals is to help her local furry friends. “It’s surprising to me that the shelter provides a service to the county by caring for animal victims and they are not compensated,” she said.
The SQSPCA recently spearheaded an iniative to get more funding for animal cruelty cases in Otsego County.
“The sheriff’s department now has $10,000 in the budget for animal cruelty. That’s a step forward for us,” said Basile. “As a board, it’s been something we’ve been passionate about.”
During her campaign, “that was one of my main talking points. People really connected with me on that.”
Yet another mission for Basile is establishing a better protocol for pay raises for Otsego County employees.
Last year, the county board adopted a competitive scale for its manager, but the new rep said, “statistically, Otsego County’s pay rate is lower than neighboring counties. I’d like to see the county come up with a process or policy for providing raises for employees that would allow county board representatives to prepare for the future.”
Additionally, Basile, who now works from home as an academic adviser to SUNY Delhi’s Nursing Program, wants monthly board meetings at a different time, “when people can attend – 10 a.m. is not accessible for most working people.”
With her first county board meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 2, Jill Basile is ready to put things in motion. “I think people look at the large picture, but they don’t realize how much local politics affect their lives directly, and that’s why I’m here.”
NEXT WEEK: Rick Brockway, R-District 3, representing Laurens and Otego.