News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.

Common Council

Outlaws Owner Gifts Damaschke Field Print To City Hall

Outlaws Owner Gives Print

Of  Damaschke Field To City 

At the top of tonight’s meeting, Oneonta Outlaws owner Gary Laing presents Common Council with a drone photo of Damaschke Field, taken last September by Oneonta Job Corps’ first drone program’s students. “This is something you’ll hopefully put up at City Hall someplace,” he said. (Jennifer Hill/
Mark Drnek Challenges Bailey In 8th Ward Race

Mark Drnek Challenges

Bailey In 8th Ward Race


ONEONTA — Mark Drnek, owner of Sweet Home Productions and the creator of the “Everything Oneonta” website has announced his candidacy for the eighth ward seat on Oneonta’s Common Council.

The seat is currently held by Joe Ficano, who announced that he would not seek re-election

In addition to his website and directory, Drnek is the host of a nationally syndicated radio program, “The Blue Light Central,” which is broadcast on nearly 2-dozen stations from Anchorage, Alaska to Asheville, North Carolina.

Democrat Challenges Carson’s 5th Ward Bid

Democrat Challenges

Carson’s 5th Ward Bid


ONEONTA – Danielle Tonner announced that she would be challenging Len Carson for the Fifth Ward Common Council seat currently held by Dana Levinson.

“Oneonta is a safe, friendly, vibrant community,” she said. “Being a council member provides a wonderful opportunity to advocate and work to continue to improve our city.”

Tonner is an alumna of SUNY Oneonta and has been a member of the Oneonta community since 1994.  She is currently employed by SUNY in the Office of Alumni Engagement.

Council Member John RafterAlso Runs For Second Term


Council Member John Rafter

Also Runs For Second Term

John Rafter

ONEONTA – With Common Council member John Rafter’s announcement a few minutes ago that he plans to seek another term, the outlines of the 2019 campaign are firming up.

Three incumbents, Rafter, Dave Rissberger and Michele Frazier are running again.  But five Council members are not.

And, with six newcomers surfacing already, there will be no shortage of candidates to replace them.

Former Reporter Plans To Run From 6th Ward

Former Reporter Plans

To Run From 6th Ward

Mark Boshnack

ONEONTA – Mark Boshnack, retired Daily Star reporter, this afternoon said he plans to run for the Sixth Ward Common Council seat being vacated by Deputy Mayor Russ Southard.

His announcement sets up a contest with Scott Harrington, who announced Friday he is seeking the Ward 6 seat. With Mark Davies announcing this morning he will vie against Seth Clark for the Ward 2 seat, at least two of five vacancies will be contested in November.

Freshman Michele FrazierSeeks 2nd City Council Term

Freshman Michele Frazier

Seeks 2nd City Council Term


ONEONTA – Michele Frazier, first-term First Ward Common Council member, made it official this afternoon: She is running for a second term this November.

Of the three incumbents said to be running again, that leaves only John Rafter, Ward 7, still to make it official.  David Rissberger, Ward 3, announced Saturday he’s in.

Five Council members are retiring, and six candidates have already emerged to run for those positions: Seth Clark and Mark Davies (Ward 2), Jerid Goss (Ward 4), Len Carson (Ward 5), Scott Harrington (Ward 6) and Joshua Bailey (Ward 8).

Here is the text of Michele Frazier’s announcement:



Davies Announcement Sets Up First Contest For Common Council

Davies Announcement

Sets Up First Contest

For Common Council 

Professor, Businessman To Vie In 2nd Ward

ONEONTA – The first contest in November’s Common Council election surfaced a few minutes ago.

Mark Davies, the Hartwick College professor who chairs the city’s Environmental Board, announced he will be running to represent Oneonta’s 2nd Ward on the Common Council, replacing Melissa Nicosia, who isn’t running again.

His announcement sets him up against Seth Clark, a Democrat who announced over the weekend he is running for Nicosia’s seat.

As 5 Council Members Depart,Rissberger Says: I’ll Run Again

As 5 Council Members Depart,

Rissberger Says: I’ll Run Again


ONEONTA – With five of the city’s eight Common Council members departing, veteran Dave Rissberger affirmed today he intends to seek another term.

He represents the Third Ward, which extends one block on each side of Maple Street and north of State Street.

Rissberger is the first Democrat to announced he’s in the race. In The past few days, Republicans Len Carson and Scott Harrington  announced they are running to fill seats that are being vacated this fall.

Len Carson To Run For Common Council In November Election

Len Carson To Run

For Common Council

In November Election

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Len Carson

ONEONTA – Former county rep Len Carson confirmed a few minutes ago he is planning to run for Common Council this fall to represent Ward 5 in the city’s west end.

A Republican, he said he has spoken with the current Council member, Democrat Dana Levinson, who told him she isn’t planning to seek another term.  All Common Council positions are up for reelection in November.

“You know me,” he said.  “I’m not into the ‘D’ and the ‘R’ and the ‘C.’  We need to have a leader, the mayor, and representatives of the wards working together to do the good work that needs to be done.  Party politics don’t work at the local level.  We need good people.”

Transit Hub Planning Study On Common Council Agenda

Transit Hub Planning Study

On Common Council Agenda

Separately, DRI Grant Approvals Due In Early March

ONEONTA – Common Council will be asked to approve a $155,000 contract for planning a transit hub around the Downtown Parking Deck when it meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

Paid for with state money available through the DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative), the contract will be with Wendel, a consulting firm in Williamsville, the Buffalo suburb, for a Transit Hub Conceptual Planning Study.

Oneonta’s Housing Problem Sparks Debate in Council Committee Meeting

Is Additional Affordable

Housing Needed In City?

Council Committee Asks

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

Melissa Nicosia, left, who chairs Common Council’s Community Development Committee, and Council member Michelle Frazier question an OFO proposal for affordable housing. ( photo)

ONEONTA –  A $10,000 Opportunities for Otsego proposal to determine the need for low- and moderate-income housing in the city and how to fill it met skepticism from a Common Council committee last night.

Still, the Community Development Committee forwarded the proposal for discussion by the full Common Council, which next meets at 7 p.m. this coming Tuesday.

OFO Housing Director Audrey Benkenstein said her organization is seeking $5,000 from the city to match the $5,000 OFO would provide.  The idea is to underwrite “a process done by a facilitator” who would examine housing information and analysis done an Otsego County housing study just on Oneonta.

Oneonta Needs to Prepare for State’s Legalization of Marijuana, Mayor Says

Oneonta Must Prepare

For State’s Marijuana

Legalization, Mayor Says

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

Mayor Gary Herzig said Oneonta should start preparing legalization of marijuana.  (Jennifer Hill/

ONEONTA – The legalization of marijuana is coming soon to the state and Oneonta should begin preparing for it.

That was Mayor Gary Herzig’s big news from the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) in Albany, specifically in the meeting of the Community Development Committee of Mayors. which Herzig co-chairs.

“This is something that is coming,” the mayor told Common Council’s Community Development Committee at its meeting this evening.  “It…could impact our future and we should start thinking about it, positively or negatively.  I don’t have judgment on it either way.”

Council’s Legislative Committee Discusses Noise, Disturbances and Short-Term Rentals

Council Committee

Focus: Town-Gown

Chairman John Rafter Aims To Focus
On Neighborhood Noise, Apartments

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

Council member
John Rafter

ONEONTA – Town-gown relations – noise and mischief in neighborhoods, and the large number of shortterm rentals in the city – are on Common Council member John Rafter’s agenda this year.

And it’s now on the agenda of the council’s Legislative Committee, whcih he chairs, and which met last night for the first time in 2019.

Rafter told committee members – Council members Dave Rissberger, Michelle Osterhoudt and Joe Ficano – they need to assess whether the “Social Host” law, passed last March, is working; and whether a register of rentals might help City Hall identify problem properties.

First Oneonta Common Council Meeting of 2019 Opens On Somber Note

First Common Council Meeting

Of 2019 Opens On Somber Note

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

ONEONTA – Common Council opened its first meeting of 2019 on a somber note, with Mayor Gary Herzig calling for a moment of silence in honor of former Oneonta firefighter John D. Heller, who lost his life while rescuing his fiancée and four nephews from a house fire last Saturday, Dec. 29.

Herzig said about Heller, “I think we can all feel that we do have a true hero among us and can be very proud of him.”

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