LETTER from ANDREW STAMMEL
To the Editor:
Every New Year brings change to the Otsego County Board. It has been interesting reading different opinions about our recent changes. To me, the selection of a chair and new vice chair from the same party caucus does not indicate a move away from the welcome bi-partisan collegiality of the last term.
Both leaders won the bi-partisan support of their peers because they have shown themselves to be thoughtful and hardworking Reps who get along well with their colleagues.
After his re-appointment, Chairman Bliss showed through his committee assignments that he understands that a 7-7 partisan split calls for power-sharing and cooperation between the parties.
Democrats are well represented in the new assignments, chairing two of the standing committees and one of the special committees. Democrats also hold a numeric majority on three standing committees and one special committee. I expect the bi-partisan cooperation will continue, as it should.
It’s important for me to express my thanks and appreciation to Chairman Bliss, who has entrusted me with the chairmanship of the Health & Education Committee for the third consecutive year.
The importance of this standing committee is sometimes overlooked, perhaps because the folks it represents often don’t have the loudest voices: our senior citizens; children and adults with special needs; people dealing with physical and mental health issues or addiction; struggling farmers; and yes, even our deceased neighbors.
The committee oversees a budget of over $15 million and supervises about 80 employees; the work touches all residents of our county. At times, the public may only be aware of these departments when a crisis arises. Instead, we should all consistently tout the good work that our department heads and their staff are doing to keep our county safe, healthy, and thriving.
One example of this good news is the approximately 90 percent reduction in drug overdose deaths over the past couple years. This turnaround has come about in part because of the coordinated and strategic efforts of these folks to provide prevention, treatment, and recovery.
If you see any of the hard-working people contributing to the health and wellbeing of our county, please offer them a word of thanks. Most of these quiet heroes do not seek the spotlight but instead stay focused on their service to our community. While the work isn’t glamorous, it is important and improves all of our lives.
It is my hope in the New Year that the county board follows the examples of these employees and continues to eschew political grandstanding or divisive partisan issues. There is important work to do and I expect we will work together collaboratively to deliver common sense results for our deserving constituents.
Town of Oneonta