ONEONTA — In a two and a half hour meeting, the issue of housing was forefront as the Common Council struggled to come to agree on the choice of an out-of-city resident as part of the housing commission on Tuesday, July 20.
This appointment was narrowly approved, 4-3, with Kaytee Lipari Shue, Len Carson and Scott Harrington being the dissenting votes.
The motion to appoint Audrey Benkenstein, with the addition of Oneonta resident Peter Friedman, was brought up for a second time after being voted down during the last common council meeting, something that Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig told AllOtsego.com last week was “mystifying,” since Lipari Shue had pushed for a non-city resident to be on the Arts Commission.
The main point of contention was that Benkenstein was not a Oneonta resident. However Herzig pointed out her appointment was voted down “only minutes after approving a Cherry Valley artist” for the Arts Commission.
Herzig said the Arts Commission held real power whereas the Housing Commission was an advisory position, and therefore those appointed to the Housing Commission were not considered officials with any kind capacity to approve anything.
ONEONTA — A committee including mayoral candidates Mark Drnek and Len Carson approved final changes to the Community Advisory Board police review document, which will sent back to the original CAB members followed by a public hearing.
The process should take about a month to complete, according to city officials.
The Community Advisory Board met Tuesday, July 13, at City Hall to follow up on the document, which was prepared in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order for police departments to recommend “best practices” that align with community values. That order and a review Herzig had ordered before Cuomo’s order, were in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020. A Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, was found guilty of Floyd’s murder in April.
ONEONTA — The Common Council met in person Tuesday, July 6, with an atmosphere of visible joviality and relief after spending a year meeting via Zoom.
“This is something we haven’t done in a long time,” Mayor Gary Herzig said, which elicited some appreciative chuckles.
Some of the agenda items passed included motions authorizing the acceptance of a state grant for the development of Hartwick College’s Grain Innovation Center, which would be located at the future Lofts on Dietz Street, as well as motions that appointed candidates to the recently formed Public Arts Commission and the Housing Commission.
Election Day is still six months away, but in the past few days it’s been off to the races, the local races.
With Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig’s announcing his retirement last week, three candidates immediately emerged to succeed him, a Democrat and two Republicans.
Leading up to Tuesday, March 2, the first day nominating petitions can be circulated, a similar outpouring occurred in races for the Otsego County Board of Representatives.
Get used to it.
The early entries, a half-year in advance of the elections, are required by changes implemented in January 2019 by Governor Cuomo and the state Legislature, then newly in control of the Democrats.
State and local primaries were moved from the second Tuesday in September to the fourth Tuesday in June, to align with federal elections. The idea, Democrats said, was to save money and to increase turnout for local elections.
However, with petitions in local races due to be filed with the county Board of Elections between March 22 and 25, it also extends the campaign season for local offices from four to
After meetings and discussions since last September, the City of Oneonta’s Town-Gown Task Force held its kickoff meeting Thursday over Vimeo. The effort is co-chaired by Common Council member Mark Drnek, who is running for mayor, and Melissa Marietta, SUNY Oneonta adminstrator. Both Mayor Gary Herzig and SUNY Oneonta President Dennis Craig are members.
ONEONTA – Mayoral candidate Len Carson announced a few minutes ago that he received the city Republican Committee’s endorsement this evening to run for the city’s top office in the Nov. 2 elections. The committee chair is Susan Lettis.
Carson said both he and Craig Gelbsman, who has also indicated he is interested in running for mayor, were at the caucus. After receiving the endorsement, Carson said he asked Gelbsman if he intended to continue in the race, but Gelbsman was noncommittal one way or the other.
ONEONTA – Following the success of the downtown Halloween events, where SUNY and Hartwick students decorated scarecrows and handed out candy to trick-or-treaters, Council Member Mark Drnek, Eighth Ward and chair of the Survive, Then Thrive committee, has invited students to help decorate downtown for Christmas.
“If you or your friends are artistically inclined, we would love it if you would help decorate our windows for Christmas,” he said during the final meeting of the SUNY COVID Control Room this semester. “We think it’s something people would want to see when they’re shopping downtown.”
ONEONTA – Calling Oneonta a “jewel,” Mayor Gary Herzig said that the city’s Economic Development Task Force is looking to not only support the city’s downtown, but bring people here to settle.
“Our goal is to have every single business not only survive the crisis, but thrive afterwards,” he said during tonight’s Common Council meeting. “We’ve always known it was a jewel, but we think more people will soon be seeking that jewel.”
The meeting was streamed live on the city’s YouTube page.
That’s Mayor Gary Herzig’s mantra and message to a City of Oneonta economic-development task force that he expects will convene for the first time later this week.
In an interview a few minutes ago, he said he’s asked Judy Pangman, the city’s community development director, and Council member Mark Drnek, who has launched www.supportoneonta.com and www.supportotsego.com web sites to help businesses that are open get their messages out.
ONEONTA – Following a presentation by Trampoline Advertising & Design, Co. this evening before Common Council, the big question was “When do we see results?”
Derek Slayton, Partner and Creative Director of Trampoline addressed council this evening with graphic designer Ali Havens, to update Common Council on the progress of Oneonta’s new branding campaign, which was launched in 2018 as part of the DRI Program.
“How do we know this is working?” asked Council member Mark Drnek, Eighth Ward, as he stressed the importance of goals and benchmarks. “It is not only bringing them to our webpage, but calling them to act and actually come to Oneonta itself. We want to be certain there is a reason. If there isn’t something happening that puts feet on the ground then it is unsuccessful.”
ONEONTA – Two weeks after delaying funding for Destination Oneonta, Common Council voted unanimously to approve $70,000 for the downtown promotion organization.
Still, questions remained.
“Is there a vision and strategy for Destination Oneonta’s future,” said Council member Mark Drnek, Ward 8, who raised the original concerns, “in which it becomes more self-sustaining, even as its core mission remains unchanged but it’s membership grows to be more inclusive of the Greater Oneonta area and less exclusively representative of Downtown business?”
ONEONTA – Common Council voted this evening, 5-3, not to renew a $70,000 contract with Destination Oneonta for 2020, but to table it for further discussion.
“I’m not really certain what the geographic parameters of Destination Oneonta are,” said Council member Mike Drnek, Ward Eight.
Given that membership is expected to rise in the new year, Drnek expressed concern for an increase in members who live outside of city limits and the city having to bear the cost.
“Looking at the projection of 200 members in 2020, clearly the geography is moving outward from the city,” he said. “I think they do a terrific job, but if this becomes more of a Chamber of Commerce, are we still responsible for the $70,000,” he asked.
It’s nice to see young people getting involved in politics, so I commend Josh Bailey for running for Oneonta Common Council in Ward 8. However, we are at a time where experience and a historical perspective are warranted.
I have known Mark Drnek for over 25 years and he has always had a good handle on what Oneonta needs and how to improve our community. The SweetHome Oneonta calendar alone has been valuable in attracting both tourists and locals for years into our community and local businesses.
As a business owner, Mark has a long history of working with local Oneonta businesses to compete in an increasingly difficult economy. Through the creation of SweetHome Productions, Mark has helped my business, along with many other Oneonta businesses to advertise and gain exposure to attract customers.
Many business owners in the area are also from the older generation so Mark has been good in helping keep up with digital marketing to help attract more customers from online. For example, he points home service businesses in the direction of some SEO for tree service providers because they will be able to do the online marketing work for them. In today’s digital age, Mark knows it can be hard for businesses to stay competitive if they’re not online so he’s helping them take that first step to modernize their business.
Both myself and Mark were local radio hosts for over 20 years. Mark continues to represent Oneonta in two dozen radio stations across the country with the Blue Light Central. Mark Drnek has been Oneonta’s spokesperson for many years so far, without even holding a political office.
Mark is deeply committed to the Oneonta community and his expertise and experience are gravely needed at point. He has invested in Oneonta as a resident and businessman and Mark’s vision for Oneonta is to keep the economy stable through local jobs and job growth in the local area. His understanding of small, local business is a key to upholding this small “City of the Hills”.
He realizes the resources available within our area and is committed to utilizing local businesses rather than hiring outside consultants, and other workers. Therefore the money spent stays here in the local economy.
This candidacy is not about political party but for the future security and well being of Oneonta.
Experience and deep commitment are key to the success of City Council and I support Mark Drnek because I believe he is the best candidate for the job.