News of Otsego County

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


County Board District 3

Democrats Signal Plans To Republicans



Signal Plans

To Republicans

Otego-Laurens District 3 Shift

Can Take Away GOP’s Majority

Friends, the Democrats are coming to get us, and it isn’t going to be pretty.

Caitlin Ogden
Rick Brockway

Chad McEvoy, the local party’s brainy director of communications, sent out an email on Oct. 1 that affirms an editorial that appeared here in early summer – the future of party politics in Otsego County will be determined in District 3, where two newcomers, Republican Rick Brockway and Democrat Caitlin Ogden, are competing for an open seat on the county Board of Representatives.

If Ogden wins, control of the board shifts from Republican to the first solid Democratic majority in county history.  (In 2006, Democrats allied with Republican Don Lindberg and took control, but without a true majority.)

In the emailed memo that begins to the right of here, McEvoy points out “the political stars are aligning … This could be huge for the future of our community,” and he ticks off what would be slam dunks for a Democratic majority:  Creation of a county manager, improving energy efficiency of county buildings, a community college, buying up and repairing blighted properties.

Nothing wrong there, but things get a little iffy when he gets into the “diversity of thought” in the party on two issues in particular. One is “doing our part to fight climate change” – that likely means no fossil-fuel bridge to green energy.  Two is “whether we want to roll out cannabis production and retail sales locally in a post-legalization world.”  We know how that’s likely to go.

As the Cooperstown Village Board – all Democrats – has proved, an ideology-driven governmental body with no opposition will do what it wants.

In control for almost a decade now, Democrats are only now hitting their strides and the community is shocked, shocked.

One, using a Comprehensive Plan that was largely developed without public input (as most are), the trustees stirred a hornets nest by looking to plunk an apartment house in one of the village’s finest single-family neighborhoods.

Two, the trustees approved flying the Pride Flag next June at the downtown flagpole, against the advice of the village attorney and the one attorney-trustee.  If the Ku Klux Klan seeks a similar permit, Village Hall can’t deny it because of the precedent set; fight, it will lose, the attorneys said.

Three, blinking signs are popping up everywhere, blinking, blinking, blinking into local living rooms.  Are they needed?  Do they work? They are an irritation, and there’s an ethical question about government applying stimulus-response to the citizenry.

The point is, absent any viable opposition (for now), the village trustees can do whatever they want, and are doing so.  New Trustee MacGuire Benton was explicit:  If people don’t like the trustees’ decisions, they can run for office.  So there.

Other than no fossil-fuel bridge and Big Pot in our future, there’s a lot of nuttiness in Albany that’s headed our way, with the Democrats in control of both houses and the Governor’s Office.

An interesting vote in point was the county board’s resolution against the “Green Light” law authorizing “illegal immigrants” from getting drivers’ licenses.

Every Democrat on the county board voted nay or abstained on that resolution, except Andrew Stammel, D-Town of Oneonta, who voted aye angrily, saying he had been sandbagged.

This month, county Rep. Gary Koutnik, D-Oneonta, even voted nay on the “Justice for Jill” resolution.  The whole issue of the new Democratic majority emptying prisons will have to wait for another day, but it’s real, and the impacts will be far-reaching.

And this is just the beginning.  The other day, New York City’s Human Rights Commission imposed a $250,000 fine on the use of the term, “illegal immigrant,” in certain context.  Just the beginning.

On the other hand, give Otsego County Democrats credit.  In the wake of Donald Trump’s election in 2016, they mobilized and organized.  The county went for Trump, but a motivated party swung it in 2018 for Democrat Antonio Delgado, our new congressman.

The Republicans need to show similar vigor, as they are in the Town of Richfield, in organizing against a Democratic effort to impose a restrictive comp plan and zoning code on the community.

With a 7-7 split on the board – the Republicans keep control through weighted voting and an alliance with Meg Kennedy, Mount Vision, a Conservative Party member – the GOP failed to mount any effective challenge in the City of Oneonta, where Republicans as recently as 2015 controlled two of the four county board seats, plus the Town of Oneonta’s.

In District 1 (Butternuts/Morris), no Republican has challenged Michelle Farwell, nor was Stammel challenged, vulnerable if anyone is.

The Republicans need some soul searching, and to pull up their bootstraps.

District 3 is a good place to get started.

The Democrats, according to the McEvoy Memo, are going to give it all they’ve got.  A sneak attack in the primary won the Independent line for Ogden, where only Brockway’s name appeared on the ballot.

The numbers were too small (30 to 4) to be meaningful, but it showed what can be done – what might be done.  If Brockway is to be elected, Republicans need to give him all the support they can.

And there’s mischief to contend with, too.  Outgoing Otego-Laurens county Rep. Kathy Clark sought out Ogden at the last county board meeting and chatted with her cheerfully for a few minutes.  Later, Ogden said Clark  advised her to increase the size of her name on roadside signs.

Clark broke with the GOP last year when the Republican County Committee failed to endorse her husband, Bob Fernandez, for sheriff.  Republicans shouldn’t underestimated the damage she might do.

In the last county board election, this newspaper endorsed the Democratic slate, and several are performing splendidly – Farwell among them, but also Andrew Marietta, Cooperstown/Town of Otsego, and even Liz Shannon, City of Oneonta, who is retiring after one term.

This year, though, with the doings in Albany and local Democratic militancy on the energy issue, Otsego County needs the county board as a bulwark against a potentially destructive Democratic tide.

Come on, Republicans, shake it off.  Keep District 3.

Rick Brockway Family Legacy Made Political Bid Natural Step


Rick Brockway Family Legacy

Made Political Bid Natural Step

Rick Brockway, Republican candidate for county board from District 3 (Otego-Laurens), stands in front of a barn commissioned by his grandfather, who was confident President McKinley’s election would bring prosperity, and contracted to have the job done in 1896.  (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

LAURENS – A couple of months ago, Rick Brockway, a farrier by trade, arrived at a farm east of Stamford, just over the Schoharie County line.

The grandmother there directed her grandkids: Go up to the pasture and bring down the horse.  As they led the horse to be re-shoed, it got caught in a gate.  It reared, and its front hoofs struck the grandmother; badly injured, she fell to the ground.

Brockway ordered the children off the scene.  Turning to the elderly woman, he discovered she had passed away.

He called Delaware County 911. They transferred the call to Schoharie 911, but a delay followed as the dispatcher sought to determine the accident’s exact location.

Brockway waited.  Finally, the Summit EMTs arrived at the scene.  Forty-five minutes had elapsed.

“I didn’t sleep for three nights,” he said.

So when asked his issues in the campaign for District 3 representative on the Otsego County Board of Representatives, the Republican replied:  Helping rural  emergency squads deal with declining volunteers and other challenges. (See other article, A1)

While this is Brockway’s first run for office, he’s no stranger to local politics.  His father, Jesse, who passed away at age 92 in 2009, served as Laurens town supervisor for 42 years.  Rick’s wife, Pat, served two terms as Laurens town justice, and will be leaving office at the end of this year after two terms as town supervisor.

“My family’s been in politics for 75 years,” Brockway said in an interview at the kitchen table of his Route 23 home.  He first considered running for county board in 2017, but dropped out on learning Kathy Clark, R-Otego, planned to seek a final term.  When he learned she wasn’t running again, he jumped in.

“I know their ideas,” he said of his prospective constituents.  “I know their values.  I know their wants and needs.”

Few people have deeper local roots.  After the family settled in Lyme, Conn., in the 1600s, four Brockway brothers soon headed west, walking into the Hudson Valley.

The family then migrated into the Catskills, to Stamford, where one member, Philip, became a noted gunsmith.  In 1801 or ’02, Brockways moved to Oneonta, locating on the south side of what it now Main Street, driving their cows daily up today’s Ford Avenue to  graze in the neighborhood of SUNY Oneonta campus.

Returning from World War II – his boat was narrowly missed by two U-Boat torpedoes while patrolling the Panama Canal – dad Jesse bought the 267 acres in the Town of Laurens.  His 34-cow herd supported two families, then one, before he gave up dairying once his children were grown – but not before young Rick experienced milking cows and other rural joys.

At 1964 graduate of Laurens Central, Brockway went to SUNY Oneonta in 1968, majoring in English and history, then taught at Wells, in the Adirondacks, Mount Upton and, finally, Worcester.

In summer 1980, he helped his brother, Skip, now living in Albuquerque, with his quarter horses, and met farrier Lloyd Watson, who planned to retire.

“Do you want a business?” Lloyd asked, and Brockway spent the next school year teaching days and shoeing horses after hours. “I made twice as much shoeing horses as teaching school,” he recalled.

He never looked back.  Even today, he’s out shoeing 2-3 days a week.  Contrary to some farriers, he’s willing to shoe one horse or two or three, and drives from customer to customer with a 108-pound anvil in the back of his SUV.

In recent years, he and Pat have rented their five-bedroom home to Dreams Park and All-Star Village families, spending their summers in a 39-foot trailer he set up by a pond on the back end of the property.

“I’m an outdoor person,” he added.  “I spent my life in the woods, hiking, hunting and fishing.” For his 60th birthday, he took a 120-mile hike across the Adirondacks; for his 70th, he climbed on high peaks in the Catskills.

For years, he wrote an outdoors column for the Daily Star, but was asked to set it aside for the campaign’s duration.

For the past few months, he’s been canvassing the whole district systematically – lists of streets and voter addresses are stacked on his kitchen table – with the idea of knocking on every door by Nov. 5, Election Day.

Besides helping resolve EMS challenges, he’s concerned the county has sufficient fossil-fuel resources during any transition to renewables.

He also supports full broadband for the county as quickly as possible; he and Pat have Spectrum at their home, but many of his would-be constituents don’t.




Dist. 3 Candidate Jumps Claim On Independent Line


Dist. 3 Candidate

Jumps Claim On

Independence Line

Caitlin Ogden

LAURENS – Rick Brockway, Republican candidate for the county board from District 3, expected to coast onto the Independence Party line yesterday, Primary Day in Otsego County.

Instead, Laurens-Otego Democrats packed the polls and, by 30 votes to 4, seized the line for their candidate, Caitlin Ogden.

“Our campaign has a great deal of momentum and we’re looking forward to November,” MacGuire Benton, Cooperstown village trustee and Ogden For Otsego campaign manager, in an email.

Clark Doesn’t File Petitions For Reelection


Clark Doesn’t

File Petitions

For Reelection

Brockway, Ogden Vie In District 3

By JIM KEVLIN  • Special to

Kathy Clark

COOPERSTOWN – A dominant actor appears to be leaving the political stage:   By today’s 5 p.m. deadline, county Rep. Kathy Clark, R-Otego, the former two-term board chairman, had not filed petitions to run again for her District 3 seat.

Absent an independent filing, it appears that either Republican Rick Brockway, the outdoors columnist and farrier from Laurens, or Democrat Caitlin Ogden, a grants administrator at the Baseball Hall of Fame, will be representing the Otego-Laurens district after the Nov. 5 election.

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