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.
On Friday, Jan. 8, Assemblyman John Salka engaged in a frank, one-on-one, 15-minute conversation with me about the election results and the insurrection at the Capitol. I sincerely appreciate him devoting so much time to talking with me, as I’m just one of over 100,000 people in his district.
But I was left appalled by his attachment to two self-serving, destructive, false narratives.
It was clear from our conversation that he has no actual evidence that Joe Biden’s electoral victory was fraudulent. He brought up one item (the affidavits of people who claim they saw irregularities). I explained that many of those were from people who had not attended observer training and therefore didn’t understand that what they witnessed was routine procedure.
This could be the begining of a beautiful friendship.
Fresh from his swearing-in as state Sen. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, in his hometown fire hall at 1:08 p.m. New Year’s Day, the freshman signaled he is planning to collaborate with Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield, on two key pieces of legislation:
One, as he promised during the campaign, Oberacker plans to introduce legislation mirroring Salka’s to overturn the Democrats’ bail reform, which has allowed suspects in petty and some less-petty crimes to be immediately released.
Two, the new senator is planning to carry the flag in the upper house for Salka’s counter-legislation to two Democratic bills requiring New Yorkers to be vaccinated for COVID-19 or, in one of the bills, face possible detention. “That should be a personal choice,” said Oberacker.
“Peter and I have become good friends,” the second-term assemblyman said Tuesday, Jan. 5, the first day of the 2021 session. “I’m excited about having a member of the Senate to consider and possibly carry our legislation through this session.”
Both men appeared Tuesday morning via Zoom on the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce’s State of the State meeting.
Afterwards, Oberacker, his Chief of Staff (and former campaign manager) Ron Wheeler, and his Communications Director Jeff Bishop headed to Albany, where the senator has been assigned Office 506 in the Legislative Office Building in Empire State Plaza.
Salka was clearing his desk in his Oneida office, planning to head up to Albany Wednesday.
To help continuity between his predecessor, state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, who represented Otsego County in Albany for 34 years, the new senator will occupy Seward’s Oneonta office on South Main Street.
He has also kept most of Seward’s staff, except his chief of staff, Duncan Davie, the former Oneonta town supervisor, who retired.
Already, Oberacker said in an interview Monday, Jan. 4, constituents are calling, seeking his assistance.
The foremost issue is COVID-fueled unemployment. “I’ve had many inquiries. A lot of folks are wanting to know what should they do, how they should go about it.” He convened a staff meeting that afternoon “to put together an action plan.”
The second issue came out of the Mohawk Valley, where RemArms, controlled by Roundhill Group LLC, described in news reports as “a group of experienced firearms manufacturing and hunting industry professionals,” is seeking to work around the United Mine Workers in reopening the Ilion plant.
The plant, which has traditionally employed many people from Northern Otsego County, was sold to RemArms when Remington was broken up under the supervision of U.S. Bankruptcy Court, according to www.syracuse.com.
Oberacker said he has been seeking to ensure to clear red tape and allow the plant to reopen as soon as possible.
The new senator attended two days of orientation at the state Capitol in mid-December, “to get to know my fellow senators,” and to get guidance from “the vast knowledge that incumbents have. It harkens back to being a freshman on campus.”
Asked about the chances of overturning bail reform, Salka pointed out that Upstate Democrats like Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, D-Marcy, support him, suggesting he may win votes from across the aisle on his measure.
“We’re hoping to present these bills” – bail reform and blocking mandatory vaccinations – “and get bi-partisan support,” he said.
Meanwhile, he pointed out, Job One will be “the 800-pound gorilla in the room – the $16 billion deficit,” which has risen from $10 billion in a year due to COVID challenges.
With four days to go until Election Day for federal and state offices, state Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy stopped in Cooperstown this morning to rally the local party faithful on the first stop of a Central New York tour. He decried “AOC Wannabes” and the state’s leftward shift, raising concerns about bail reform and plans to give illegal residents the right to vote. He was joined by the local GOP ticket (inset, right), led by state Senate candidate Peter Oberacker (center); from left are Assembly incubents John Salka, whose district includes Oneonta, Cooperstown and Richfield Springs; Chris Tague, who represents Cherry Valley, Roseboom, Decatur and Worcester, and Brian Miller, Springfield, Middlefield, Westford and Maryland. At lower right is Ryan Van De Water, the Republican lawyer from Poughkeepsie who’s challenging Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-19. The contingent continued on to Oneida County. Flanking him are county Rep. Dan Wilber, Burlington, a former member of the famed Thunderbirds (note cap), and Bobby Walker, CCS grad now completing his degree at SUNY Albany. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
COOPERSTOWN – Where did that question on whether to fund the Catskill Regional Teacher Center come from?
Two of the 121st District candidates were caught off guard by the first question; Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield, had actually toured the place and declared, “Spending on education is one of the most important investments we can make.” The other two candidates could agree with that.
Beyond that wild card, the three candidates – in addition to Republican Salka, they were Democrat challenger Dan Buttermann, Oneonta, and Libertarian Jacob Cornell – jousted on a range of issues, including three particularly hot ones: supporting law enforcement, bail reform and gun laws.
WAMPSVILLE – Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield, has announced he will unveil Bill A11067 that, if passed, would “completely” repeal last year’s bail reform, at a press conference at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21, at the Madison County Courthouse.
He will be accompanied by Madison County Sheriff Todd Hodd.
Salka’s district includes Madison, Otsego and parts of Oneida counties.
Assemblyman John Salka, R-121st, will host a Virtual Town Hall at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday).
Click here to sign up. You will be emailed the Zoom link so you can participate.
Salka’s 121st District includes Otsego County’s three population centers – Oneonta, Cooperstown and Richfield Springs – and the towns in between, as well as Madison County and part of Oneida.
A retired respiratory therapist and former chairman of the Madison County Board of Supervisors and Brookfield school board president, Salka, a freshman, is being challenged in November by Democrat Dan Buttermann, Oneonta.
COOPERSTOWN – Three key Republicans representing Otsego County issued a statement today calling Governor Cuomo’s plan to “seize” ventilators and PPE equipment from Upstate hospitals “dangerous” and “just plain wrong.”
They are county Rep. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, who is running to succeed state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, and Assemblymen John Salka, R-Brookfield, whose district includes Oneonta and Cooperstown, and Chris Tague, R-Schoharie, whose district includes Cherry Valley, Roseboom, Decatur and Worcester.
STATE OF THE STATE – 11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Hear from your elected officials in local, county, state, federal government on the State of Otsego County. Learn about legislation & initiatives that may impact your business. Featuring Antonio Delgado, James Seward, John Salka, others. Cost, $40/non-member. Otsego Grill, Morris Hall, SUNY Oneonta. 607-432-4500 or visit otsegocc.com
ONEONTA – The field is filling up with Democrats aiming to challenge freshman Assemblyman John Salka, R-121, whose district includes Oneonta and Cooperstown, as well as Madison and past of Oneida counties.
Nick Chase, a Hartwick College students and Oneonta native, this week joined Oneonta City school board member Dan Buttermann and Corey Mosher, a Hamilton farmer and board chair of Madison County Cooperative Extension.
Chase entry makes a Democratic primary next June more certain.
ONEONTA – Dan Buttermann made it official today: The Oneonta Democrat plans to challenge Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield, for the 121st Assembly District seat, although he first may face a Democratic primary next June.
The 121st includes the bulk of Otsego County, including Oneonta and Cooperstown, all of Madison County and part of Oneida. The 2020 election will be Nov. 3.
“I am deeply concerned about the future of our district, state and country,” Buttermann said in a press release. “I fear that failure to invest in the future of our economy today means that our next generation of Upstate New Yorkers will find it harder and harder to stay.”