10 AYES Vs. 3 NAYS, ABSTENTION
Turmoil Over Oberacker’s
Vacancy Continues To Sting
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Democratic unhappiness over how state Sen. Peter Oberacker was replaced on the county board spilled over at today’s reorganizational meeting.
County Board Chair David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, was reelected, but the vote was 10-3, plus one abstention. And not before Bliss was criticized for partisanship, poor communication and a lack of vision.
“The people of the county deserve a county chair who puts the good of the county above party and does not work the rules for partisan advantage,” said Michelle Farwell, D-Morris, one of two reps speaking out against Bliss’ reelection.
The other was Jill Basile, D-Oneonta, who said, “We saw our lack of transparency, partisanship and poor communications in the appointment of the District 6 representative,” Jennifer Mickle, R-Town of Maryland, who succeeded Oberacker.
At issue was Oberacker’s abrupt resignation in mid-November, after being elected to the state Senate, followed by Republican efforts to whisk Mickle into the seat before Democrats had a chance to organize behind a candidate of their own.
Three Republicans came to Bliss’ defense, Keith McCarty, East Springfield; Dan Wilber, Burlington, and Rick Brockway, West Laurens.
Of the critics, McCarty said, “none of them had to go through what Mr. Bliss went through this year. He did an excellent job. He needs the chance to get us all the way through this.”
Two three-term Democrats defended Bliss, too: Andrew Marietta of Fly Creek and Andrew Stammel, Town of Oneonta.
Marietta said the personal criticisms were off the mark. “It’s systematic,” he said. “The chair position has limitations. We are all in agreement a county administrator is the best path forward.”
Stammel, who Bliss appointed Health & Education Committee chair, recalled his first term, when Kathy Clark, R-Otego, was chair. “The past two terms, the leadership under Representative Bliss has been better than our first term.”
However, Stammel said, there’s been some retreat: For instance, when Democratic Vice Chairman Gary Koutnik of Oneonta left office in 2018, Meg Kennedy, a Conservative allied with Republicans, was appointed vice chair. (Kennedy was elected temporary chair of today’s reorganizational meeting.)
“I’m supportive” of Bliss, Stammel said, but also of “a return to the spirit of bipartisanship.”
The weighted vote was 4,690 ayes, 1,190 nays, with Danny Lapin, D-Oneonta, abstaining. He controls 348 weighted votes.
“I hope we can work together for the betterment of the county,” Bliss said in accepting his reelectio