ONEONTA – County Rep. Clark Oliver, D-Oneonta, who is also the county Democratic chairman, announced today he plans to run for a second term. His district includes Wards 1 and 2, encompassing the city’s East End and the colleges.
“I’m very grateful to the people in my district for placing their trust in me, and hope they will do so again,” he said.
Oliver said “the unexpected events regarding the pandemic” dominated his first term, as the county board sought to mitigate financial impacts. He said his next to will involve “continuing to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, transparently relaying informing to the public.”
MILFORD – Emily Popek, former Daily Star manager editor, has posted on her Facebook page that she intends to run for county representative in District 5, challenging Meg Kennedy, the board’s vice chairman.
District 5 includes Milford, Hartwick and New Lisbon. Under the county board’s weighted voting system, the position has the most people, and thus the most voting clout, of all the 14 districts.
COOPERSTOWN – Partisan perspectives led to lively debates this morning at the February meeting of the county Board of Representatives, but the three related resolutions were blunted or failed to reach the floor.
First, a resolution – to chide Assemblyman John Salka and state Sen. Peter Oberacker for a bill specifying New Yorkers can refuse the COVID vaccine – was watered down into a neutral statement asking the state Legislature to do what it could to expedite inoculations. It passed unanimously.
Second came two warring resolutions on violence – the Republican one decrying the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol AND violence at Black Lives Matter protests over the summer; the Democratic one decrying just the Jan. 6 assault. Both failed to garner sufficient support.
COOPERSTOWN – The county board’s Administration Committee recessed this morning without taking any action on the Democratic nominee to fill state Sen.-elect Peter Oberacker’s District seat.
The committee interviewed Democrat Diane Addesso, the former Worcester town supervisor.
But it decided, since the Admin Committee has a 3-2 Republican majority and has already endorsed Oneonta businesswoman Jennifer Mickle for the job, there was no point in pushing for a vote, said Admin Chair Meg Kennedy, C-Hartwick, Milford and New Lisbon.
The Addesso interview was conducted in executive session, closed to public view, as was Mickle’s interview last week.
COOPERSTOWN – A special Administration Committee meeting has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 30, to interview the Democrat-backed prospect to succeed state Sen.-elect Peter Oberacker in the county board’s District 6, Admin Chairman Meg Kennedy, C-Hartwick said today.
The meeting will not be Dec. 2, as previously reported.
The Democrats have already identified a prospect in District 6 (Maryland, Worcester, Westford and Decatur), according to Democratic County Chairman Clark Oliver. He said the candidate is a woman, but he hasn’t identified her yet.
COOPERSTOWN – After tabling the measure two weeks ago, the county Board of Representatives today rallied behind Destination Marketing of Otsego County, with nine reps rejecting a resolution to reduce funding for its promotional arm from 15 percent to 24 percent.
Rep. Andrew Stammel, D-Town of Oneonta, proposed the larger cut for DMCOC, saying, “With the present state of the industry” – tourism – “we’re not going to be doing as much in this atmosphere.” Michele Farwell, D-Morris, second the motion.
COOPERSTOWN – After a 2½-hour executive session, the Otsego County Board of Representatives emerged this afternoon to vote, 9-4, with one absence, to lay off 58 employees, saving $1 million in the face of plummeting revenues caused by the coronavirus threat.
The meeting, the second this month, was called specifically to decide on layoffs.
Four Democratic county representatives voted nay: Michele Farwell, Gilbertsville; and three Oneontans, Andrew Stammel and freshmen Clark Oliver and Jill Basile. Danny Lapin, D-Oneonta, had participated in the Facebook Live meeting, but was absent for the vote.
COOPERSTOWN – Saying “most people understand HPPA and privacy implications,” county board Chair Dave Bliss told his colleagues today Otsego County residents will only be given gross numbers about the coronavirus infestation.
However, he said, individuals and families may “self-disclose,” he said.
Some larger counties are releasing data by town, but “guidance from the state is that smaller counties with smaller population have the right not to disclose, which is what we’ve decided to do,” since people might be able to determine who the individuals are.
COOPERSTOWN – Richard Sternberg, saying he was acting on behalf of the Susquehanna SPCA, told what appeared to be a partly surprised county Board of Representatives this evening that the Shelter will begin unilaterally levying fees Jan. 1 on county entities and towns that require its services.
“We will be initiating a billing system,” said Sternberg, the retired Bassett surgeon and Cooperstown village trustee, who said he was acting as an adviser to the Shelter’s Board of Directors.
Speaking at the public hearing on the 2020 county budget at the county courthouse, he said when Executive Director Stacie Haynes’ time is required, a fee of $80 an hour will be levied, with quarter-hour increments. For other staff members, it will be a $40 hour fee, plus $30 per day for caring for each animal housed at the shelter, and 65 cent per mile mileage if staffers’ or Shelter vehicles are used.
“I don’t think (county government) is run as effectively as the people who elect us should demand it should be,” county Rep. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, inset at right, told the 10 people who attended an informational session this evening in Oneonta City Hall on the county Board of Representatives’ plan to create a $150,000 county manager job to run the $116 million operation. Members of the county board’s Intergovernmental Affairs Committee – chair Meg Kennedy, and county Reps. Michele Farwell, Liz Shannon, Andrew Marietta and Oberacker – repeated presentations they gave at last week’s monthly county board meeting. In the Q&A, Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig, top photo, who works with a city manager, said policy questions will be still be debated in open meetings, but operational decisions – his example: which roads get paved – will be made out of the public eye. A second informational meeting – the League of Women Voters is running the sessions for the county board – will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the county courthouse in Cooperstown. The official public hearing will be at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, prior to the county board’s monthly meeting. Seated at rostrum in top photo are, from left, the League’s Stephanie Bauer, and county Representatives Gary Koutnik, David Bliss (chairman), Farwell, Shannon, Kennedy and, with back to camera, Andrew Stammel. Behind Herzig are two new county reps, Clark Oliver and Jill Basile.
Get to know Oneonta’s Clark Oliver. You likely will be hearing a lot about him on the political scene in years to come.
A senior poli-sci major at SUNY Oneonta, he will be finishing his degree in December just in time to take office Jan. 1, as he’s running unopposed in the county board’s District 11 (Oneonta’s Ward 1-2).
Send Political Letters
By noon Monday, 10/28
In the past couple weeks, two fellow Democratic candidates – Hall of Fame grantsman Caitlin Ogden, who is running against Rick Brockway in District 3, and Hanford Mills Director of Education Luke Murphy, who, learning Common Council member Michele Frazier is moving to Delhi, mounted an energetic write-in campaign in Oneonta’s Ward One – report they were inspired to run by Oliver’s enthusiasm and encouragement, as well as Village Trustee MacGuire Benton.
In an interview, Oliver – he’s a gutsy young guy, smart and talented: you may remember that, as a boy, he performed in the Broadway hit, “101 Dalmatians,” on its national tour – said he also encouraged Jill Basile to run for county rep in District 14, and Kaytee Lipari Shue to run for Common Council in Ward 4.
Disillusioned, then motivated, by President Trump, Oliver issues are a little general – transparency, fiscal responsibility, environmental sustainability, etc. — still to be precisely defined.
“Each of us is running to make our communities a better place – we aren’t necessarily a slate,” he said. “A lot of young people are excited and passionate about running for office. At many levels of government we don’t see young people represented. I’m inspired we all decided to run at the same time, and happy to see a change in local politics.”
LAURENS – When Caitlin Ogden was 11 and living in Palm Harbor, Fla., west of Tampa, her parents learned of a Black Arabian for sale near their native Elmira, and determined to buy it for their horse-loving daughter.
When they contacted the seller, it was gone. But the horse’s cousin, two months younger, was available.
Thrilled at the gift, Caitlin named it Black Knight, after a horse in the Thoroughbred Series novel she was reading at the time. She rode it, tended it, with no inkling of a danger ahead.
In August 2004, the news broke: Hurricane Charlie, Category 5 – the most dangerous classification – was headed for Palm Harbor. As recommended, she spray-painted her phone number on Knight’s side. The paddock gate was left open, in case her horse and the others needed to scatter in face of the storm.
The storm veered away, but for Ogden, already considering abandoning the busy Florida suburb with its congested roads for the pleasures of small town living, Charley settled it: She and her horse were moving north.
“I wanted some place to ride my horse in the woods, not on the street,” she said. “I wasn’t going to find that in Florida.”
Enrolling at Elmira College, she obtained a B.A. in History. Intrigued with a particular period, Ogden went on to SUNY Binghamton for a B.A. in Medieval Studies, while working as education services coordinator for the National Soaring Museum, Elmira.
She became interested in fundraising, and while earning her master’s (2018) at the Cooperstown Graduate School in Museum Studies, interned at the Roberson Museum in Binghamton, then in SUNY Oneonta’s development office, before joining the Baseball Hall of Fame as a grants writer.
She bought two acres in the Town of Laurens, near the former Edgewood Golf Course, big enough for her current horse, Leo – official name, Lucci the Lion. “I chose to settle here and call it my home,” she said in an interview at The Funny Farm, the restaurant and minimart on the Laurens/New Lisbon line.
Since 2016, “like many Americans, I was feeling stress and tension about how politics had become very divisive,” she said. Instead of “yelling at the TV set,” she volunteered for county Rep. Liz Shannon’s 2017 campaign.
There she met other politically minded young people, like Clark Oliver, who is running unopposed for county board in the City of Oneonta’s District 11, and MacGuire Benton, the Cooperstown village trustee and assistant Democratic elections commissioner.
“I’m doing my little part to get things back on track,” she said. Despite the national divide, “we have more similarities than differences.”
She has been going door to door every evening after work and 4-8 hours on weekends, “to get to know as many people as I can.”
Such hard work, she suggested, resulted in her winning the Independent Party primary in June. Her opponent’s was the only name on the ballot, but a write-in push won her the fall ballot line, 30-4.
“I’m quite honored they selected me by a large margin,” she said.
If elected, Ogden said she will seek to ensure the Cooperative Extension Service is sufficiently funded. (Its director, Don Smyser, was chided by county reps in September for a shortfall.)
Her goal is for local farmers to benefit from budgeting, grants and equipment, mental health and other available Cooperative Extension programs.
She favors rural broadband as soon as possible, noting satellite service is too expensive. Lack of broadband “is hurting property values; it’s hurting rural education,” she said.
She saluted the City of Oneonta for obtaining downtown-restoration grants, and said she will seek similar programs for downtown Laurens and Otego.
There no downtown in Laurens, she said, but she pointed to Rubera’s in downtown Otego, which began as a pizza parlor and has expanded serving lunch and dinner. It’s a model for others entrepreneurs to follow, she said.
Of her conversation at the last county board meeting with county Rep. Kathy Clark, R-Otego, the woman whom Ogden would succeed, if elected, she said, “That was the first time I actually talked with her.”
Clark suggested Ogden increase the size of her name on roadside signs.
“I appreciated the fact that she was pleasant to a Democrat who might be her success,” Ogden said.
COOPERSTOWN – “He’s here. I know he’s here,” county board Chair David Bliss said around the noon hour, looking into Clerk of the Board Carol McGovern’s office through a door at the front left of the board meeting room.
Suddenly, there he was: Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-19, all 6-foot-4 of him, who said he’d just driven up from his Rhinebeck home, two and a half hours away. Some of the attendees seemed aware he was showing up; others seemed genuinely surprised.