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Bliss: Appointments

Aim At ‘Continuity’ 

Meg Kennedy Emerges With New Status

As Chairman Of Both Administration, IGA

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

County Rep. Meg Kennedy, C-Hartwick/Milford/New Lisbon, presides at this morning’s reorganizational meeting. (Jim Kevlin/

COOPERSTOWN – She went into today’s reorganizational meeting of the Otsego County Board of Representatives already with the greatest clout under the weighted voting system.

But Meg Kennedy’s rising stature was quickly affirmed.

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.

In that key role, she succeeds Craig Gelbsman, who lost his seat Nov. 7, and before him Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, the board’s vice chair who was replaced this morning by Gary Koutnik, D-Oneonta.

Plus, she continues as chair of the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, considered the second most influential of the committee.

Strictly speaking, the Democrats control a seven-seat majority on the county board to the Republicans’ six.  Kennedy, although a registered Conservative, has voted with the GOP, and that, given the weighted voting, gives that party control.

The gavel within reach, David Bliss takes his seat at the front of county board chambers this morning. He is flanked by Clerk of the Board Carol McGovern, left, and County Attorney Ellen Coccoma. (Jim Kevlin/

Today’s vote for Bliss was an interesting mix.  All seven Democrats supported him, plus Kennedy.  Of Republicans, only he and Peter Oberacker voted for his chairmanship.  Of the other Republicans, Clark was a “nay,” outgoing vice chair Ed Frazier was absent, and Keith McCarty and Dan Wilber “abstained.”

In making committee appointments, Bliss said that, with four new reps on the board, he was guided by a need for “continuity,” adding, “The county needs to have some institutional memory.”

Thus, Oberacker continues as Public Works chair; Koutnik, as Human Services chair, and McCarty at Solid Waste & Environmental Concerns.

The one new chair of standing committees was Andrew Stammel, D-Town of Oneonta, who served as Bliss’ vice chair in the just-ended administration.

Of the special committees, Frazier continues to chair Negotiations.

Koutnik chairs Performance Review & Goal Setting, on which he served in the past year.

And there were a few readjustments in the committees, where much of the nuts-and-bolts work of county government happens.  Government Efficiency, championed by former county rep Rick Hulse, has been folded into IGA.

“Technology” has been added to the Strategic Planning Committee’s name, and Andrew Marietta, D-Cooperstown/Fly Creek, was elevated to chairman.  Dan Wilber, R-Town of Burlington, was named to the one-person committee, Safety.

Bliss also proposed Marietta as the board’s liaison with Otsego Now, to be affirmed by a resolution next month.  Clark suggested naming Gelbsman, the former liaison, to continue on Otsego Now, but it was unclear how much support that idea had.

Of the four new reps, Michele Farwell, Danny Lapin, Adrienne Martini and Liz Shannon each received key committee assignments, a bit of a break with past practice of requiring newcomers to undergo an apprenticeship of sorts.

Emerging from executive session, the representatives appointed Ellen Coccoma as county attorney for another year.


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