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

Davies, Shue Take Oneonta Democratic Primary




Carolyn Cooper, with daughter, Mora, was the last person to vote in the Oneonta Common Council democratic primary at Foothills this evening. (Jennifer Hill/

ONEONTA – Mark Davies, Ward 2, and Kaytee Lipari Shue, Ward 4, will both appear on the Democratic ballot line for Oneonta Common Council this November after hammering opponents Seth Clark and Jerid Goss in today’s primary.

Both were endorsed by the city Democratic Committee.

Without write-ins counted, Davies received 95 votes to Clark’s five, and Shue got 49 votes to Goss’ 11. However, both Clark and Goss will run on the Republican and Independence lines in November.





COMMUNITY OF RESIDENCE:  Center Street, Oneonta for over 30 years.

EDUCATION:  Oneonta City Schools (’05) and Academy of Art University in San Francisco (advertising)

Kaytee Lipari Shue

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE:  Retail business leadership for over 10 years, most notably maurices at the Southside Mall for five years.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT:  City of Oneonta sustainability taskforce alongside Mark Davies. First United Methodist Thanksgiving dinner volunteer for several years. Represented maurices as a local Chamber of Commerce member. Coordinator of numerous drives and events as Store Leader of maurices benefitting local groups – focusing on women, children, seniors and animals.

FAMILY: I have a husband, Jared, who is also an Oneonta native, and a son, Henry.

PHILOSOPHY OF GOVERNMENT:  Council members should be elected to advocate for their constituents and ensure tax dollars are used to appropriately address community needs.


I think it’s important that we are finding purposeful solutions for the future, rather than making potentially short-sighted decisions. For example, the DRI grant is an important opportunity and it’s crucial that we think about how the decisions we make now will age in the community we want to build.

It’s critical that we focus on growing the local economy by encouraging quality job creation and by reducing the tax burden on homeowners.

We need to facilitate a symbiotic relationship between the City and the colleges. We are a college town – so the students are a vital part of our city’s character, but our year-round residents who have invested in our community deserve respect. This is a continual issue for the residents of my district, so it’s important that we set expectations clearly so that we are all participating in a shared vision for our neighborhood. We should also tap into the college community when it comes to growing industry in our area, as supporting students with jobs in their field after they graduate will help them view (and treat) Oneonta as their home.

I’m also passionate about increased communication and transparency between City Hall and city residents so that everyone feels involved in the processes that impact our quality of life.

MY QUALITIES: strong communicator, results focused, driven, organized, and genuinely optimistic.


When people I grew up with hear that I’m still in our hometown, a lot of them ask me why – and that is exactly why I’m running for city government. The perception among many is that Oneonta is a great place to grow up, but not a great place to stay.  We raise great kids, and so many more move here to go to college, but then most end up elsewhere because there isn’t anything to keep them here long term. It’s hard to find housing. It’s hard to find jobs. “There isn’t anything to do.”

Our community has so much potential. We could absolutely be a destination for other families like mine to put down roots; to live, work, shop, dine, and proudly call Oneonta their home. In recent years, we have taken steps toward that potential, but there is still a lot of work to be done. I’m motivated to dig in, work hard, find solutions to our challenges, and be involved in these decisions that will shape the future of Oneonta.

As a lifelong resident of the Fourth Ward, you can trust that my perspective on issues will come from a place of deeply held personal understanding.  I’ve been here through the ups and downs in our community, and I can relate to many of the concerns of my neighbors. Now, more than ever, city residents are voicing their opinions, hoping to be heard by those making decisions on their behalf – and I would be excited and honored to be their representative.

I can be reached via email at for further discussion.

I hope to earn my neighbors’ support in the Democratic primary on June 25th!

Environmental Review Too Fuzzy, GasActivists Advise Common Council

D&H Yards Debate Renewed

Environmental Review

Too Fuzzy, Gas Activists

Advise Common Council

CON: Rachel Soper, Town of Oneonta, tells Common Council, “If no specific impacts are identified in the review, if there are no conditions or thresholds specified, then there is nothing for future developers (of the D&H yards) to comply with.” (Ian Austin/

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

PRO: Former city Superintendent of Schools Dave Rowley: “Your process was incredibly open and I think it will lead to something great for our community.”

ONEONTA – Anti-gas activists from around Otsego County returned to Oneonta Tuesday, June 18, with the same message:  The environmental review to allow redevelopment of the D&H Railyards is not detailed enough.

And Mayor Gary Herzig repeated the same response he has since a stormy hearing Tuesday, March 5 at Foothills: If someone shows up with a plan to actually do something, a more detailed environmental review will be done.

In an unusual change in procedure, no public comment was permitted at this Common Council meeting before a 7-1 vote was taken accepting the final GEIS (general environmental impact statement) the state requires of any prospective development.

Then, as expected in advance reports, the Concerned Citizens of Oneonta and allies as far away as Cherry Valley accused Common Council of ignoring the concerns they’ve been raising.

‘Citizens’ Due For Reprise At Oneonta Council

‘Citizens’ Due

For Reprise At

Oneonta Council

Objecters Ignored In Final GEIS,

Email Says. But Mayor Disagrees

At the crowded public hearing in March, Hartwick College undergrad Will May urged Common Council to follow AOC’s “Green New Deal” in planning the city’s future. (Ian Austin/

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

ONEONTA – Unhappy Concerned Citizens of Oneonta are expected back at tomorrow’s 7 p.m. Common Council meeting.

Common Council is expected to act on the GEIS – generic environmental impact statement – on the D&H railyards redevelopment, and Citizens’ email sent out Sunday says it “dismisses every single comment brought by the public.

“No changes were made at all.  And the city is now trying to plow ahead,” it states.

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.”

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