Party Chairman Says Democrats
Also Have District 6 Candidate
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – The Otsego County Board of Representatives may find bipartisanship forced upon it – perhaps until the end of 2021 – if a deadlock forming over Republican state Sen.-elect Peter Oberacker’s vacancy can’t be resolved.
County Democratic Chairman Clark Oliver said a few minutes ago that his county committee, meeting last night, identified a candidate willing to run for the District 6 seat that Oberacker has vacated.
If the Republican selection, Oneonta businesswoman Jennifer Mickle, who lives in the Town of Maryland, can’t get sufficient votes to win appointment at the Dec. 2 county board meeting, Oliver said Democrats will then propose their candidate, also a woman, at the next Administration Committee meeting.
“We would have someone ready,” said Oliver, who declined to give her name “until it matters.”
Without Oberacker’s votes, Republican no longer have a majority on the board; nor do the Democrats.
Yesterday, the county board’s Administration Committee voted along party lines, 3-1, to nominate Mickle for the vacancy in District 6, which includes the towns of Maryland (Schenevus), Worcester, Westford and Decatur.
The question of Jennifer Mickle’s appointment led to a tense hour-long discussion, conducted via Zoom. She spoke to board members during an executive session, but it was closed and how things went is unknown.
Oberacker resigned his board seat Monday, and Republican county committee members from Distict 6 met Tuesday and endorsed Mickle, who is Oberacker’s choice as his successor. Democrats at yesterday’s Zoom Admin meeting said they only learned of the plans Wednesday and were now being asked to vote for the choice on Thursday.
Republicans Keith McCarty, East Springfield, made the motion on Mickle’s nomination, and Ed Frazier, Unadilla, seconded it. “I think it was really one-sided and unfair,” said county Rep. Jill Basile, D-14.
The two Democrats on Admin, Andrew Marietta, Cooperstown/Town of Otsego, and Adrienne Martini, from Oneonta’s District 12, also expressed dismay at the state of affairs; Democrats Danny Lapin, Michelle Farwell and Oliver Zoomed in to do so as well.
But McCarty, Frazier and county Board Chair Dave Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, who was also present, pointed out Oberacker was elected to the state Senate Nov. 3, and everyone should have known he would have to resign and the vacancy would have to be filled.
While the Republicans and the Conservative chair, Meg Kennedy, Hartwick/Milford/New Lisbon, control the Admin Committee, with Oberacker’s resignation neither the Republicans or the Democrats have a majority of weighted votes on the full board.
So without at least one Democratic vote, the Republicans will be unable to appoint Mickle at the Dec. 2 meeting of t he full board.
How that deadlock might be broken is unclear.
Bliss said he’s asked County Attorney Ellen Coccoma to research the question. When he was Middlefield town supervisor, Bliss said, he was empowered to fill vacancies by appointment if no candidates could be found. He may also have that authority as county board chair.
Another option might be a special election.
If neither a Republican or Democrat can be appointed by the full board, the District 6 seat might remain vacant until Jan. 1, 2022, when the county board will reorganize after the November 2021 elections.