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News of Otsego County

Election 2020

BIDEN: First, Let’s Control COVID-19
EXCERPT from JOE BIDEN

First, Let’s Control COVID-19

At the Chase Center on the River-front in Wilmington, Del., President-elect Joe Biden delivers his first remarks Saturday evening, Nov. 7, after his Electoral College tally passed 270 votes earlier in the day.

Editor’s Note: Here are excerpts from Joe Biden’s speech to the nation Saturday, Nov. 7, after his votes in the Electoral College surpassed the 270 majority earlier in the day.

Now that the campaign is over – what is the people’s will? What is our mandate?

I believe it is this: Americans have called on us to marshal the forces of decency and the forces of fairness. To marshal the forces of science and the forces of hope in the great battles of our time.

The battle to control the virus.

The battle to build prosperity.

The battle to secure your family’s health care.

The battle to achieve racial justice and root out systemic racism in this country.

The battle to save the climate.

The battle to restore decency, defend democracy and give everybody in this country a fair shot.

Our work begins with getting COVID under control. We cannot repair the economy, restore our vitality, or relish life’s most precious moments – hugging a grandchild, birthdays, weddings, graduations,
all the moments that matter most to us – until we get this virus under control.

On Monday, I will name a group of leading scientists and experts as transition advisers to help take the Biden-Harris COVID plan and convert it into an action blueprint that starts on January 20th, 2021. That plan will be built on a bedrock of science. It will be constructed out of compassion, empathy and concern. I will spare no effort – or commitment – to turn this pandemic around.

I ran as a proud Democrat. I will now be an American president. I will work as hard for those who didn’t vote for me – as those who did.

Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end – here and now. The refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another is not due to some mysterious force beyond our control. It’s a decision.

It’s a choice we make.

And if we can decide not to cooperate, then we can decide to cooperate. And I believe that this is part of the mandate from the American people. They want us to cooperate. That’s the choice I’ll make. And I call on the Congress – Democrats and Republicans alike – to make that choice with me.

The American story is about the slow, yet steady widening of opportunity. Make no mistake: Too many dreams have been deferred for too long. We must make the promise of the country real for everybody – no matter their race, their ethnicity, their faith, their identity, or their disability.

America has always been shaped by inflection points – by moments in time where we’ve made hard decisions about who we are and what we want to be. Lincoln in 1860 – coming to save the Union. FDR in 1932 – promising a beleaguered country a New Deal. JFK in 1960 – pledging a New Frontier. And 12 years ago when Barack Obama made history and told us: “Yes, we can.”

We stand again at an inflection point. We have the opportunity to defeat despair and to build a nation of prosperity and purpose. We can do it. I know we can. I’ve long talked about the battle for the soul of America. We must restore the soul of America.

Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darkest impulses. It is time for our better angels to prevail.

Tonight, the whole world is watching America. I believe at our best America is a beacon for the globe. And we lead not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.

I’ve always believed we can define America in one word: possibilities. That in America everyone should be given the opportunity to go as far as their dreams and God-given ability will take them.

You see, I believe in the possibility of this country. We’re always looking ahead. Ahead to an America that’s freer and more just. Ahead to an America that creates jobs with dignity and respect.

Ahead to an America that cures diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s. Ahead to an America that never leaves anyone behind. Ahead to an America that never gives up, never gives in.

This is a great nation. And we are a good people. This is the United States of America. And there has never been anything we haven’t been able to do when we’ve done it together.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Identity Politics Big Loser
FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Identity Politics Big Loser

It wasn’t clear by Wednesday afternoon who had won the White House, but one bad idea was soundly defeated on Tuesday: identity politics. The concept that the country should be divided into
aggrieved categories based on race, national origin or sex – now a core tenet of the Democratic Party –
lost from coast to coast.

It lost in Miami-Dade County, Fla., where Cuban-Americans delivered votes for President Trump. We don’t know the final margin, but some polls going into the election had the president leading among Cuban- American voters by a margin as wide as 38 points. Identity politics also lost in Osceola County, near Orlando, where Mr. Trump appears to have done better than expected among Puerto Rican voters.

Identity politics lost in South Texas: Zapata County, 95 percent Mexican-American, went for Hillary Clinton by 33 points in 2016 – but Mr. Trump won with 52.5 percent this time. Throughout the Rio Grande Valley, President Trump did better in 2020 than in 2016.

Identity politics even took it on the chin in California: Voters defeated an attempt to revoke Proposition 209, the 1996 ballot measure that bans the use of race, national origin or sex by state universities and other agencies. The left has spent almost a quarter-century trying to reverse that decision, but its latest attempt lost handily.

MIKE GONZALEZ
Wall Street Journal
Thursday, Nov. 6

He Fired Them; Fire Him

LETTER from KENNETH J. KAVANAGH

He Fired Them; Fire Him

To the Editor:

The list never ends.

General John Kelly (former Chief of Staff), General Jim Mattis (former Secretary of Defense), Rex Tillerson (former Secretary of State), Richard Spencer (former Secretary of the Navy), John Bolton
(former National Security Adviser) and on and one.

The common denominator through them all is “former.” They were ALL wrong and summarily in time dismissed. In each and every case, Trump was always right. After all, when is he ever wrong?

His selections of incredibly able people to his cabinet, followed by his summary firings, underscore the futility with which he has governed this country for the last four years. Sadly there is no room
whatsoever for disagreement even to the extent of a difference of opinion. It is the king’s way or else.

But, in point of fact, the emperor definitely has no clothes, nor the common sense to engage the expertise of advisers who know far more than he ever will. He chose them and dismissed them.

Now it’s our turn to dismiss him. Vote!!

KENNETH J. KAVANAGH
Cooperstown

BUTTERMAN: Vision Of Future Excites Him
Democratic Candidate Dan Buttermann

Renewables, Futuristic Farms

Excite Challenger Buttermann

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Dan Buttermann, wife Ana Laura and their three daughters, Malena, 11, Layla, 8, and
Nadia, 6. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

ONEONTA – It started when Denny Colgan was running for school board in Prescott, Ariz.

He and Dan Buttermann’s dad, Kent, played in the Prescott Kiwanis Jug Band together, and the father agreed to be his friend’s campaign manager.

Young Dan “saw how hard they were working,” and was captivated by the energetic strategy sessions at the Buttermann home. Even then, he knew, “I wanted to get involved.”

Buttermann, now 36, was born in Mesa, Ariz., and raised with twin brother Matt and their older brother Charles in Prescott, where dad Kent and mom Denise Jenike founded Armadilla Wax Works Factory Store in 1971.

It’s still operating today. During an interview Friday, Oct. 9, in the front room of his Ford Avenue home, where the Buttermann family moved in 2015, there was a lit Armadilla candle on the coffee table.

Studying music and clarinet performance at the University of Arizona, Tucson, he sidled up to flutist Ana Laura Gonzalez, an Argentinian who was working on her Ph.D. “I loved her smile,” said her still-smitten husband. “I don’t think she had noticed me before.”

Dan went on to an MBA at Southern Methodist University, and when Ana was appointed artist of flute in residence at Hartwick College in 2011, the couple, now married, moved to the Town of Oneonta with baby daughter Malena.

Malena, now 11, has been joined by two sisters, Layla, 8, and Nadia, 6, both born locally. At first, Dan worked for Geico, based on Long Island.

“Once we knew we intended to put down roots,” Nancy Tarr of Cooperstown, now a colleague
in SUNY Oneonta’s Music Department with Ana Laura (who is an adjunct there, in addition to her Hartwick post), helped find him a connection at NYCM Insurance in Edmeston.

For a decade, he’s been an assistant casualty manager there, investigating claims in bodily injury cases.

His urge to “get involved” was manifested first in music, although community service and politics soon followed.

He and Ana Laura were soon performing with the Catskill Valley Wind Ensemble and the Oneonta Community Concert Band. In 2015, when Robin Seletsky – the finest local clarinetist, Dan says – took a leave from the Faculty Woodwind Quintet, he stepped in, joining his flutist wife.

“I love performing. I love playing with different people. It’s a way of communicating – of teamwork,” said the candidate; today you’ll see Dan and Ana on stage when the Catskill Symphony Orchestra performs.

Soon, he had also approached the county Democratic chair-man, Richard Abbate of Cooperstown, seeking to pursue his boyhood dream of politics: “I want to get involved at some level; I wasn’t sure how.”

And he found himself in Julian Schreibman’s campaign office in downtown Oneonta, calling voters on behalf of the Congressional candidate.

Buttermann was soon being championed by Rich Murphy, who, fighting cancer, planned to retire from the county Board of Representatives at the end of 2013. With Murphy’s backing, newcomer Buttermann lost a close race to Janet Hurley Quackenbush, a Republican who served one term.

Undeterred, Buttermann was elected to the Oneonta City school board the following May, arriving in time to struggle with the state’s Gap Elimination Adjustment. (Since 2009, Albany had been cutting state aid to schools to close the state budget gap.)

“You see there are inequalities among schools,” he said. “It was completely unfair that schools could offer more because of their size.”

At the same time, he was serving on the Town of Oneonta Planning Board, and found SEQRA, in particular, unfair, as it required developers to pay for traffic studies and develop water mitigation plans at their own expense, even though others developers would benefit from the findings.

The state should do the studies, for the benefit of all, he said.

He also joined the Opportunities for Otsego board, where “it bothered me that some families were denied access to Head Start because they are making a couple of percentage points above the guideline.”

The solutions to these inequities are in Albany, he concluded, and – unwilling to wait – he challenged Assembly-man Bill Magee, the 28-year incumbent Democrat and Ag Committee chairman, in 2018.
Magee, based in Madison County, won the primary, 3,681-2,415, although Buttermann lost Otsego County by only 45 votes. John Salka, R-Brookfield, who Buttermann will face Nov. 3, then – his third time out – toppled the incumbent, 23,320-22,835, a close 50.5 to 49.4 percent.

Meanwhile, he kept “getting involved.”

Annually since the fall of 2017 (except in this COVID year), Buttermann organized TedX Oneonta events, adapting the famed Ted Talks to local scale. He remembers jitters the night before the first one. But all the speakers, from as far away as Australia, showed up.

He also pursued a personal interest in global warming, from local debates on gas lines and fracking, concluding, “I thought renewable was a better bet long term.”

Finding the cheapest flight and renting a BnB room, he paid his way to Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps seminar 2018 in Los Angeles – “I wanted to be able to speak intelligently about it” – and came away hopeful about the future.

With dairying in decline, if elected he’s interested in pursuing such opportunities as growing soybeans locally for the “Impossible Burger,” Burger King’s soy-based option.

He disagreed with Salka on how much a freshman can accomplish. “He thinks there’s no Democratic interest in Upstate New York,” he said. “I think that’s misguided.”

If Buttermann has been headed for elective office since his boyhood days in Prescott, the decision was locked in Nov. 17, 2017.

“That day Ana took her naturalization oath,” he said. “It was one of the most inspiring days of my life, aside from getting married and birthing children.”

Proudly watching the proceedings, he decided: I’m running for Assembly.

SALKA: I Know How To Help Constituents
Assemblyman John Salka

‘I Know How

To Help Constituents’

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

John Salka addresses the Monday, Oct. 6, dedication of Sgt. John Kempe Winslow Memorial Highway in Hartwick. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO,com)

COOPERSTOWN –  It’s been a long journey for John Salka from a boyhood in Utica’s Corn Hill section to the sumptuous New York State Capitol.

His tiny 5-foot mom Carmella, a single parent, supported him and his sister Carole by working in a suitcase factory in Whitesboro. “A lot of glue; a lot of grimy work,” said the son, who at one point worked there, too.

Evenings, Carmella Salka would take care of welfare families’ children, as well as the two young Salkas.

“We had kids at our kitchen table, black, white, Hispanic, whatever. They’d be there a couple of days; then they would be gone,” said Carmella’s son, now 66 and completing his first term as assemblyman from the 121st District, which includes western Otsego County.

Every other Saturday, young John would take a bus to the Utica Armory, the pickup point for government surplus food. “Actually, it was pretty good,” he remembers – the peanut butter, in particular.

His mom put her two children through Catholic school, St. Francis de Sales, and John went on to Utica Free Academy. Absent a father’s restraining hand, when he was a junior he said to himself, “I don’t want to be here anymore.” He walked out and never went back.

For the next two years, in Boston, he handled the soundboard for Celebration, a Utica band that was trying to make it big there. (In those days, the now-tidy lawmaker confesses, his braided hair grew down his back to his belt.)

Back home, “I worked a lot of dead-end jobs” through his 20s, including as an aide to the famously impetuous Ed Hanna, Utica’s mayor in the late 1970s and early ’80s.

After Hanna left office, Salka found himself working as an orderly at Utica’s Faxton Hospital, and loving the atmosphere. By then, he had gotten his GED, and, at age 28, enrolled in Mohawk Valley Community College’s respiratory therapy program, (where he became editor of the Student Voice newspaper.)

It was a big demand field. Still in school, he got a job at Community Memorial Hospital in Hamilton and, graduating, he joined the neonatal care unit at Children’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., and he and wife Erin – the couple had met at MVCC – headed for the Nation’s Capital.

“On one side, Marine One would be coming in for a landing; on the other was the Washington Monument,” he remembers. He’d copter out to pick up premature babies, then fly them back for treatment. “It was pretty exciting,” he said.

At the time, a two-bedroom condo in D.C. was going for $150,000. But the Salkas were looking to start a family, so in 1990 headed back to Upstate New York, buying “a fixer-upper on 62 acres of land” in North Brookfield, Madison County, across Unadilla Creek from Edmeston. “We’ve been there ever since.”
Rejoining Community Memorial, Salka rose to the head the respiratory therapy department. On the side, he pursued a mason’s trade, starting a chimney building and repair business.

In Brookfield, the Salkas began raising a family, daughter Emily (Emmy) and Aleksandr. “I got to know the folks; I got to know the community,” and in 2002, he agreed to serve on a Brookfield Central School committee planning a capital project.

The next year, he ran for the school board; three years in, he was elevated to board president, went through the state School Board Association’s prestigious School Board Institute, and served on Madison County BOCES.

In 2007, he ran for Brookfield town supervisor, beating an 18-year incumbent. With 122 miles of roads, he developed a plan that replaced aging highway equipment, cutting the maintenance budget in half and reducing the tax rate from 7.68 per thousand to 6.24.

On the county Board of Supervisors for those 11 years (until he was elected to the Assembly in 2018), he applied his medical background to chairing the Social Services, Mental Health and Public Health committees.

As vice president of the county Board of Health, he oversaw the privatization of the 42-nurse home-care agency, which was “hemorrhaging money because of legacy costs.”

“It took a year and a half,” he said. “We were very, very selective in choosing the company that took over.”

First year, “we saved $1 million. All but two of the nurses found work with the company that took over. Because the company was able to modernize, I think we are providing even better service.”

He called that “my ‘shining star’ in terms of achievement.”

On the Planning & Economic Development Committee, he was involved in installing a 10-acre solar project at the county landfill, saving the county an estimated $200,000 a year, he said.

Through all this, he faced challenges at home. Daughter Emmy contracted cancer, passing away on Oct. 27, 2015, at age 22, after a years-long struggle. Son Alek was placed on the Asperger’s spectrum, but, now 27, is living on his own and has been supporting himself.

In public service for more than a decade, Salka realized, “at the town level, a lot of budget pressures are because of what’s coming out of Albany.” Further, “education is wrought with rules and regulations that schools have to comply with that don’t improve the quality of education and accountability.”

So in 2014, the Republican challenged Assemblyman Bill Magee, D-Nelson, the ailing Ag Committee chairman who had been in office since 1990. Salka lost, 53-47 percent. In 2016, he narrowed Magee’s lead, 52-48 percent. Finally, in 2018, the challenger won, 51-49 percent.

Some question what a Republican can do in an Assembly dominated, 42 to 103, by Democrats. Salka, Thursday, Oct. 8, in this newspaper’s Cooperstown offices, said he’s been able to leverage his knowledge of the state Education Department and other agencies to the benefit of his constituents.

He knows who to call.

Salka said he had a recent success bringing in the state Canal Corp. to resolve flooding in Eaton, allowing a construction project to proceed, and in helping find state help to combat eutrophication in Oneida Lake.

HEWLETT: Trump, Bidens Turn Voters Off
LETTER from JASON HEWLETT

Trump, Biden

Turn Voters Off

To the Editor:

Being a somewhat conservative Christian man, I have always preferred Republican candidates over Democrats.

I have voted or wanted to vote for Republicans because they have the same views that I do on major issues such as abortion, homosexuality and prayer in public schools, to name a few.

But as I get older and more educated, and I begin to understand what’s most important in life, I realize that the issues a candidate stands for aren’t nearly as important as his or her character.

I can’t bring myself to vote for Donald Trump on Nov. 3 because his character is one of arrogance, hypocrisy and immaturity, despite the fact that I agree with him on many of the issues.

But I also can’t bring myself to vote for Joe Biden because his character, based on the Presidential debate alone, wasn’t much better, since he chose to return insult for insult with Trump instead of taking the high road and being the better person. I also disagree with him on most of the issues.

So what should I do? And who should I vote for in November? I will either vote Independent or I won’t be voting at all.

JASON HEWLETT
Oneonta

FLEISHER: Vote In Election ’20

LETTER from P. JAY FLEISHER

Vote In Election ’20

To the Editor:

America is on the brink of an election that will have serious implications for the future of our Country, and indeed our democracy.

I write this out concern for our immediate future, and also because I am equally concerned about the America my 6-year-old grandson will inherit. He deserves the same freedoms we all experienced growing up in a country that valued human dignity, clean air and water, and the freedom to enjoy a society free of hate and prejudice – a place that values human life and a profound respect for those who gave their lives so we could live free – in America.

All I ask is that my fellow citizens exercise their right to vote.

Remember – young American men and women died for your right to vote. Don’t disrespect their sacrifice by letting this opportunity pass. I am not advocating in favor of any candidate, but rather for the future of America – the America of my grandson.

“We the people” – you and me – we are the ones for whom those words were written at the birth of our nation.

If there was ever a time America needed you, it’s now. Show you are a responsible American by voting on
Nov. 3.

P. JAY FLEISHER
Oneonta
Editor’s Note: Voters, you may already ask for absentee ballots by letter (Board of Elections, The Meadows, 140 County Hwy. 33W, Suite 2, Cooperstown NY 13326); email (voteotsego.com)
or phone (607-547-4247).

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21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103