COUNTY CLERK WORRIED
Stammel Sole Democrat To Oppose
Driver’s Licenses For Illegal Aliens
By JENNIFER HILL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – With only one Democrat supporting the 8-3-3 vote, the Otsego County Board of Representatives today sent a resolution to the state Assembly opposing the so-called “Green Light Bill” allowing illegal immigrants to obtained drivers’ licenses.
Voting aye were Republicans Ed Frazier of Unadilla, Kathy Clark of Otego, Peter Oberacker of Schenevus, Dan Wilber of Burlington, Keith McCarty of East Springfield and board Chair David Bliss of Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, as well as Meg Kennedy, C-Mount Vision. Andrew Stammel, Town of Oneonta, was the sole Democrat joining them.
Voting nay were Democrats Gary Koutnik, Danny Lapin and Adrienne Martini, all of Oneonta. Abstaining were Democrats Michelle Farwell of Morris, Andrew Marietta of Cooperstown/Town of Otsego, and Liz Shannon of Oneonta
Resolution 175 expresses opposition to the proposed the Driver’s License Access & Privacy Act, which would not require people seeking licenses to show proof of U.S. citizenship. The bill passed the state Senate and is awaiting action in the Assembly.
State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, today said Senate Republicans “vehemently opposed” the Democratic initiative.
“The thought of giving a driver’s license, a secure identification document, to someone who is intentionally breaking the law is inconceivable,” he said. “This measure is bad public policy that would put lives in danger, reward lawbreakers, and send the wrong message to those who take the legal path to citizenship.”
Introducing Resolution 175, Kennedy said County Clerk Kathy Sinnott Gardner, who administers the local DMV office, had asked for it because the clerk’s office would be tasked with determining how the county would comply with the law. Kennedy worried “the right to vote would be eroded” if the state bill was signed into law.
An illegal immigrant can register to vote by pressing a “yes” or “no” button while going through the steps to obtain a drivers’ license. “Nothing right now can stop an undocumented worker from pressing ‘yes’,” said Kennedy.
The state County Clerks Association has spearheaded opposition to the measure.
Voting against Resolution 175, Koutnik said, “One million workers are undocumented in New York, more than five percent of the labor force. A quarter of them lives outside the city with no access to public transportation.” Allowing them to get licenses would also generate more fees, he said.
Stammel said he’s “not a big fan of the resolution,” saying it attracts demagoguery, but that he voted for it to support the county clerk and other employees.
Kennedy said if the bill passes the Senate and is signed into law, Otsego County will have to implement it. But in passing Resolution 175, Otsego County can let “our legislators know how we feel about it.”
Copies will be sent to the four Republican Assemblymen who represent the county – John Salka, Brookfield, Brian D. Miller, New Hartford, Chris Tague, Schoharie, and Clifford Crouch, Bainbridge.