As a candidate for the Oneonta City Council, I can only hope that I will do well to help serve the people and the city in any capacity possible. If there are any doubts about this, do know that I will keep my personal opinion separate from the task at the job itself.
If I am elected to the Council, I want to increase the size of the Commissions from five persons to eight persons to help represent the public who live in the eight wards of the city so that all voices are heard and represented by those who are appointed to the Commissions.
By TED MEBUST ONEONTA SUNY Oneonta political science major and Maryland, New York native Andrew Hamill announced his candidacy for Oneonta Common Council in December, running as a member of his own party, “Unity for Oneonta.” Hamill hopes to bring accountability and pragmatism to the council, vowing to lead with a spirit of compromise.
“We need Common Council members who are willing, and dedicated to reason and building a consensus with their constituents,” said Hamill. “As a candidate for the Council, I intend to work with my constituents by listening to their concerns about whatever they have to say and try to work on a consensus that can bring the people together.”
Hamill, who previously ran for town council in his hometown, detailed a vast array of issues on which he plans to campaign.
HOUSING – 7 p.m. Learn about the assistance available through the New York State Homeowners Assistance Fund, from housing counseling to legal and negotiating assistance. Learn about the program during the City of Oneonta Housing Commission meeting in the Common Council Chambers, City Hall, 258 Main St., Oneonta. Visit www.facebook.com/otsegocountyOFA/
ONEONTA — The Common Council unanimously passed a motion to approve and adopt the Implementation Plan for Police Reform and Reinvention, which was worked on by the Community Advisory Board and the subsequent council led review committee, Tuesday, Oct.5.
Mayor Gary Herzig thanked the CABRC members who worked for six months on creating the plan to implement the CAB’s recommendations, which was a response to a directive given by former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Herzig said he was impressed members of CABRC, which included mayoral candidates Len Carson, R-Fifth Ward, and Mark Drnek, D-Eighth Ward, voted unanimously on every single motion.
The motion paves the way for standing Community Police Review board, whose job will be to handle complaints about OPD.
Other business discussed included the recent County Board meeting that approved county-wide ambulance service. Council members were concerned Oneonta would pay double for a service they don’t use, as Oneonta already has its own ambulance service.
HARVEST CELEBRATION – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Celebrate the harvest season in 1800s style. Walk around the historic village, learn from the historic interpreters and enjoy the activities fall activities from wagon rides, to corn shelling/grinding, and tinsmithing with the blacksmith, and more. Included with admission. The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1450 or visit www.farmersmuseum.org/event/celebration-of-autumn/
ONEONTA — COVID numbers for SUNY Oneonta have steadily improved with more students getting the vaccine.
Danielle McMullen, chief of staff at SUNY Oneonta, reported to the Common Council on Tuesday, Sept. 21, that 94% of students had at least one dose of the vaccine while 88% are fully vaccinated.
McMullen said SUNY Oneonta was doing “really well, when compared to other SUNY schools,” and credited the “strong messaging campaign” with the rising numbers of vaccinated students.
“Students came back to campus really wanting that in-person, robust experience,” McMullen said. There was a “spike (in COVID cases) that we anticipated” McMullen said who spoke of the erroneous notion that the vaccine is a “silver bullet” but they took a look at “a lot of data points including students social activity” and were able to make determinations on how they could improve their response.
McMullen called it a “testament of our campus coming together” and “being honest with the local community.”
ONEONTA — The Common Council held a public hearing for the long anticipated vote on the Community Advisory Board Review Committee report Tuesday, Sept. 21, created in response to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s directive that police departments create a document of “best practices” by local law enforcement with input from the community.
Only two people spoke at the public hearing, both of whom were supportive of the council passing the report.
Daniel Driver said the report gave him “confidence in how hard the OPD works with few resources, but also cause for concern” and urged the council to consider more social services for those with mental health issues and addiction. He said that police officers were being put in a “untenable position where they have to arrest or interact with folks” who have some of those issues.
“There is a lot more to be done,” Driver said.
Steve Ludner offered “personal gratitude and thanks” for those who worked on CABRC and suggested the council “modify some of the wording” to make “clear that the Community Police Board will have options for community engagement.”
We interviewed City of Oneonta mayoral candidates Mark Drnek and Len Carson for the AllOtsego Report Mayoral Election edition.
Click here to listen to our interview with Mark Drnek.
Democratic candidate for mayor, Mark Drnek, represents the Eighth Ward of Oneonta and is the owner of Sweet Home Productions and host of the syndicated radio show Blue Light Central.
Click here to listen to our interview with Len Carson.
Republican candidate for mayor, Leonard Carson, represents the Fifth Ward of Oneonta and is a former fire captain for the city as well as a former Otsego County Representative for District 13. He is also the co-owner of DC Marketing.
ONEONTA — The Common Council approved the new Asst. Fire Chief, Timothy Foster to a round of applause Tuesday, Aug. 17, after some discussion about tabling the potential appointment until the situation with the COVID delta variant became more clear.
The council was briefed on the situation with the coronavirus variant, a mutation that is steadily causing higher rates of infection City Health Officer Diane Georgeson said while fully vaccinated adults can acquire and transmit the virus but it is spreading much more quickly in places with lower vaccination rates.
ONEONTA — Len Carson, the Fifth Ward Common Council member and Republican mayoral candidate, received some heat at the council’s meeting Tuesday, Aug. 17, for approving billboard ads through his company, DC Marketing, that presented false information about coronavirus vaccines.
Jennifer Hill spoke at the meeting at City Hall, saying the ads were dangerous and strongly condemning Carson for his role in putting up the ads.
“It’s unconscionable that a member of the council and one who wants to lead the city to spread false information,” Hill said. “Mr. Carson did not come across as someone who would want to do that. I don’t know what changed.”
ONEONTA — In a two and a half hour meeting, the issue of housing was forefront as the Common Council struggled to come to agree on the choice of an out-of-city resident as part of the housing commission on Tuesday, July 20.
This appointment was narrowly approved, 4-3, with Kaytee Lipari Shue, Len Carson and Scott Harrington being the dissenting votes.
The motion to appoint Audrey Benkenstein, with the addition of Oneonta resident Peter Friedman, was brought up for a second time after being voted down during the last common council meeting, something that Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig told AllOtsego.com last week was “mystifying,” since Lipari Shue had pushed for a non-city resident to be on the Arts Commission.
The main point of contention was that Benkenstein was not a Oneonta resident. However Herzig pointed out her appointment was voted down “only minutes after approving a Cherry Valley artist” for the Arts Commission.
Herzig said the Arts Commission held real power whereas the Housing Commission was an advisory position, and therefore those appointed to the Housing Commission were not considered officials with any kind capacity to approve anything.
ONEONTA — Oneonta native Greg Mattice has begun his new role as Oneonta’s city administrator.
Mattice began his new position July 1, leaving his job as city engineer.
Mattice, who said he enjoys playing basketball and spending time with his family, earned a degree in engineering from Syracuse University in 2009.
“We’re a small city,” Mattice said. “I do a lot of technical work.”
Mattice said that his main priority is going to be increasing communication throughout the various departments.
“The first step is to make sure everyone is on the same page.”
The city administrator’s job will to be to oversee the various operations and coordinate between different departments in the city. The common council voted last year to amend the position following several unsuccessful attempts at fielding a city manager.
The administrator position will have less autonomy than the city manager and will report to the council.
George Korthauer resigned as city manager in January 2020. City officials have said they had not had a good track record with managers and wanted to reform the position.
Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig said Mattice’s “knowledge and knowing people in the city” made him a great candidate. “He has a good vision for where the city needs to go in the years ahead. “It was unanimously felt that he was the person who met the city’s needs at the time,” Herzig said.
Mattice had been the city engineer since 2015.
He said he was comfortable filling this role because he has “built good relationships with a lot of the department heads.”
“We work pretty closely with everyone,” Mattice said.
He said that he didn’t think he would be doing this sort of a job initially.
“I certainly didn’t get out of college thinking I’d be a city administrator or a city engineer for that matter,” Mattice said. “I think it’s just interesting and it keeps me on my toes. There’s something new every day.”
Mattice was a member of the Otsego County’s Energy Task Force and in 2017, Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig gave him the key to the city in appreciation of his efforts in keeping the city safe during winter
A summer concert series will begin Thursday, July 8, in Neahwa Park in Oneonta.
The series will feature performances every Thursday between 7 and 8 p.m.
The first event will feature the Driftwoods.
Common Council accepts grain grant
Oneonta’s Common Council passed a motion Tuesday, July 6, to accept a state grant of $180,000 for the Hartwick College Grain Innovation Center. The city’s plan is for the center to become part of the eventual Lofts on Dietz Street.
The council met in person at City Hall for the first time since March 2020, at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Meetings had been taking place via Zoom and were broadcast on YouTube. However, the July change in state COVID laws opened the meetings up again.
ONEONTA — The Common Council met in person Tuesday, July 6, with an atmosphere of visible joviality and relief after spending a year meeting via Zoom.
“This is something we haven’t done in a long time,” Mayor Gary Herzig said, which elicited some appreciative chuckles.
Some of the agenda items passed included motions authorizing the acceptance of a state grant for the development of Hartwick College’s Grain Innovation Center, which would be located at the future Lofts on Dietz Street, as well as motions that appointed candidates to the recently formed Public Arts Commission and the Housing Commission.