News of Otsego County

Mary Margaret Robbins

Voters Seek To Break Tie For Village Trustee


Voters Seek To Break

Tie For Village Trustee

COOPERSTOWN – Polls will be open noon-9 p.m. today at the fire hall on Chestnut Street to resolve a nailbiter.

Village of Cooperstown voters will vote to break a 272-272 tie between incumbent Democrat MacGuire Benton and challenger Mary-Margaret Robbins, a Republican.

After the Tuesday, Sept. 15, village election, delayed from Wednesday, March 18, due to the coronavirus, Benton and Robbins opted for a runoff election instead of a coin-toss to resolve the race.

Check back after 9 this evening for results. Meanwhile, here are questionnaires the two candidates completed outlining their  view of the issues and plans if elected.




Mary-Margaret Robbins Has Brains, Courage, Kindliness

Mary-Margaret Robbins Has

Brains, Courage, Kindliness

To the Editor:

I feel strongly that I do endorse the candidacy of Mary-Margaret Robbins for village trustee. I have known Mary-Margaret for a long time, and I admire her brain power, as well as her kindness to others and her guts.

Most of us knew her when she was a pharmacists at CVS. Unfortunately, she had to retire from that job to take care of her health. Today she is incredibly strong and determined to help the community in whatever way she can.

As a board member, I feel she would be excellent. She is measured in her decisions, based on facts…and to me, I could care less which party she belongs to, as the important thing is to work for the Village of Cooperstown. That is where her loyalties lie.

Please vote for Mary-Margaret! I feel all of you and the current board will be happy with the outcome, if she wins. Just remember to vote!




HAGE: Mary-Margaret Would Let All Be Heard


Mary-Margaret Robbins

Would Let All Be Heard

To the Editor:

Do a favor to your neighbors and yourself by voting for Mary-Margaret Robbins for trustee of the Village of Cooperstown. She is a fine person, conscientious about everything she does.

As a trustee, she would serve all constituents faithfully and productively. She brings to the table a pleasant spirit of cooperation, a sound sense of priorities, and a deep desire for all voices to be heard.

You can count on her to be thoughtful and constructive in all community matters.

She has ideas to share and wants to listen carefully to what you have to say. She understands our needs and opportunities, and holds a sincere desire to serve us with distinction. She is an exceptional individual who deserves every vote we have to give.


NORTHRUP: Robbins Like GOP Of Yesteryear


Robbins Like

GOP Of Yesteryear

To the Editor:

The last time I wrote a letter supporting a Republican was for Gov. Jeb Bush, which was published as a guest editorial in the Manchester Union Leader during the primaries.

What a better world it would be if a capable guy like Jeb had won. Lordy.

I am not a resident of New York State so I can’t vote here, but I do live here much of the year and I would encourage anyone who can vote here to vote for Mary-Margaret Robbins, a person that I have come to know as being forthright, inventive, meticulous, cheerful and quietly courageous – all increasingly rare attributes – and particularly needed in government officials.

If the Republican Party is to have a productive future, it will be with decent people of integrity like Mary-Margaret, Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney.


Tied, Benton, Robbins Face Sept. 29 Runoff

Tied, Benton, Robbins

Face Sept. 29 Runoff

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to


COOPERSTOWN – Election Night in Cooperstown Tuesday, Sept. 15, was a nail-biter, ending with a 272-272 tie and setting up a runoff election for next Tuesday the 29th.

The runoff is between Democratic incumbent MacGuire Benton and Republican newcomer Mary-Margaret Robbins. Polls will again be open noon-9 p.m. at the fire hall.

This week, the candidates were asked to provide a final statement to village voters.

“I think things are going very well,” said Benton.

“A Village Board of proven leaders has worked very hard. I hope the people of Cooperstown will keep the progress going. I want to keep the progress going. I want to keep things going the way they are.”

Said Robbins, “As a longtime resident of Cooperstown, I choose to live here, work here and raise my family here. Now, I’m running for the Village Board to ensure Cooperstown stays a great place to live, work and raise a family for generations to come.”

Because of the short time to the runoff, Village Administrator Teri Barown extended office hours – 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. Thursday the 24th, and 8 a.m. – noon Saturday the
26th – for people who want to vote absentee to pick up applications or drop off ballots.

Absentee ballots may also be submitted Election Day until the polls close at 9 p.m.

What happened here Election Night provides a hint of what’s to come nationally after Nov. 3.

A few minutes after the polls closed at 9 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 15, Election Inspectors Tom Lyon and Ed Gwilt had the official count from voting machines: 234 for Joe Membrino, plus the 227 for Benton and 208 for Robbins.

But there were 108 absentee ballots, a lot more than usual.

First, Village Administrator Teri Barown and Election Inspectors Nancy Morton and Tom Heitz certified each of them, checking absentee voters against the list of registered voters provided by the county Board of Elections.

Ten voters had apparently forgotten they’d voted by absentee in the March 18 election that delayed six months by COVID-19, and they voted again.

“You put ‘already voted’ on those ballots,” said Barown, “and set them aside.”

One voter who had voted in March had since died, and his ballot was disqualified, too.

The ballots were then counted individually, “Membrino, Benton,” said Compton. Then, “Membrino, Robbins,” Heitz would say. There were a number of ballots with single votes for either Benton or Robbins.

Counting absentees and adding them to the machine count took an hour and a half, as the candidates, friends, family members and supporters stood by.

When Barown announced the tie, Robbins and Benton gasped, laughed and shook hands.
Membrino’s wife Martha gave her hubby a big hug, (which they agreeably repeated for the photographer.)

Both candidates in the tie rejected a coin toss– one means of resolving ties – and opted for the runoff election.

MacMILLAN: Robbins Offers Fresh Outlook


Robbins Offers Fresh Outlook

To the Editor:

I wish to clearly support the candidacy of Mary- Margaret Robbins for trustee of the Village of Cooperstown. She is forthright, inventive, courageous and smart, having no hidden agendas.

Her allegiance is to Cooperstown, not any political party, though she does have bipartisan support!

Further, she has the maturity and circumspection to not support flying the rainbow flag from the village flagpole. She represents the opportunity to add another voice of reason to the Village Board.


WALLER: Former Mayor Backs Robbins’ Bid


Former Mayor

Backs Robbins’ Bid

To the Editor:

On Tuesday, Sept. 29, we again have the opportunity to choose who represents us on the Cooperstown Village Board.

With the marvelous turnout this past week, I hope everyone will return to the polls or to their absentee ballots and cast their votes. This is how our local govern-ment works.

I urge you to vote, and vote for a person who will represent us, the village residents of Cooperstown.
I am going to vote for a person who is raising a family here, is a local resident who keeps our needs in the forefront of her mind, and is someone who cares for the Village first, someone with heart:  Mary-Margaret Robbins.

I fully endorse her as candidate for village trustee and urge everyone to vote for the Heart of Cooperstown.

Mayor (retired)





ELECTION DAY: Noon-9 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 29, Cooperstown fire hall

EDUCATION: Professional Pharmacist Albany College of Pharmacy

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Pharmacist for 20-plus years in Cooperstown and throughout the state – management, training and recruiting experience. Working with state agencies. Medicare specialist – provided information and training to groups and individuals. Owner of year-’round housing rental with focus on giving young workers and longtime residents a place to live.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Susquehanna SPCA, Angel Network, Glimmerglass Opera, Farmers Museums, Hospice Tree of Life, Christ Episcopal Church, USTA Eastern Conference Board Member, Global Lyme Alliance Advocate

FAMILY: Matt Sohns, Sr. Vice President at Morgan Stanley Utica and Cooperstown offices. Daughter Maggie Sohns.

PHILOSOPHY OF GOVERNMENT: The Village of Cooperstown is not anywhere, it’s somewhere. This means close attention needs to be paid to the residents’ and business owners’ needs.


1. Doing something for the residents and the business owners who carry the burden of the taxes.

2. Increase individual taxpayer and business involvement before making decisions. Understanding that each area within the village has its own separate needs and concerns.

3. Maintain and increase community spirit by making Cooperstown more resident-friendly.


These issues would easily be addressed by listening to the people. Having experts volunteer to speak to the people and the Board of Trustees. Making sure residents and business owners are always at the forefront of any and all issues.

A Village that comes together is able to maintain and improve both its Main Street and its residential charm.

MY QUALITIES/QUALIFICATIONS: I have worked in public service all my life. Doing so has taught me to listen first and the work together to come to the best decision/outcome in any situation. I also enjoy coming up with ideas that may save money or utilize resources to their greatest potential.

Being a heart transplant recipient. I know struggle, the unknown, and have the ability to believe anything is possible with positivity and perseverance. I have learned through transplantation we are all the same color inside. This has giving me great insight as to how people can come together and make progress in the direction that is best for all.

I have the willingness to say what is necessary and to say what others may need said for them.

STATEMENT: On Tuesday, Sept. 29, I would be proud to have your vote. Vote for the Heart of Cooperstown/Mary-Margaret Robbins.

As a long-time resident of Cooperstown, I choose to live here, work here, and raise my family here. Now, I’m running for Cooperstown Village Trustee to ensure that Cooperstown stays a great place to live, work, and raise a family for generations to come.

MacMILLAN: Vote Newcomer Robbins As Trustee


Elect Newcomer

Robbins As Trustee

To the Editor:

I wish to strongly endorse and support the candidacy of Mary Margaret Robbins for village trustee in the coming election.

A certified and licensed pharmacist, many will recall her from the years she spent working at the CVS pharmacy when it was located on Main Street. Having been a resident of Cooperstown for many years, she has the vision and dedication to conserve our heritage.

Despite her most recent health challenges, Mary Margaret has consistently had a smile on her face. Helping her in that regard has been her loyal companion and supporter Dodger, whom she rescued from our animal shelter. She is thoughtful, approachable, intelligent, and a good listener of all opinions –
NO hidden agendas!

Mary Margaret is fully aware of the significant local issues that demand our village’s government attention. She is a focused candidate possessing the common sense to work together in seeking appropriate solution.


‘Affordable Housing’ Is Her Priority For Village, Tillapaugh Tells League


‘Affordable Housing’ Is

Her Priority For Village,

Tillapaugh Tells League

Mayor Tillapaugh

COOPERTOWN – “Affordable housing” will be the priority of Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch, who is running unopposed in the Sept. 15 Village Board primary, according to questionnaires posted today by the League of Women Voters, Cooperstown chapter, on the LWV’s “Vote 411” web site.

“The village’s largest employer, Bassett Healthcare, employs 2700 people on the Cooperstown campus alone,” wrote Tillapaugh in response to the League’s questionnaire.  “The majority of those employees commute from long distances. It is to Cooperstown’s advantage to increase our housing stock and population.”

In addition to the mayor, three candidates are competing for two trustee positions: MacGuire Benton and Joe Membrino, incumbents and Democrats, and Mary Margaret Robbins, Republican challenger.

Campaign Signs To Go; Polling Issues Remain


Campaign Signs To Go;

Polling Issues Remain

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

CDC images of coronavurus

COOPERSTOWN – In light of Governor Cuomo’s decision to postpone Wednesday’s village elections statewide due , the Cooperstown candidates have said they are pulling up their lawn signs for the time being.

Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch is unopposed. MacGuire Benton, Joe Membrino and Mary Margaret Robbins Sohns are competing for two Village Board seats.

The terms of Benton and Membrino, the two incumbents, expire April 1; but Tillapaugh said that, due to the governor’s State of Emergency, they will continue to serve until the next election.

At 1-Year-Old, Candidate Unsure She’ll Make Debate


At ‘1-Year-Old,’ Candidate

Unsure She’ll Make Debate

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Candidate Mary Margaret Robbins Sohns enters Village Hall Monday, Feb. 10, to submit petitions to run for Village Board. ( photo)

COOPERSTOWN – Tuesday, March 3 is “my first birthday,” Republican Village Board candidate Mary Margaret Robbins Sohns explained, when asked why she couldn’t yet commit to the League of Women Voters’ debate 7-9 p.m. Thursday, March 5 at 22 Main.

“I lost my heart last year,” said the heart-transplant survivor, “and got a new one.  So I will be one-year old.”

On the first year anniversary, heart-transplant recipients are required to undergo a particular surgical procedure, Robbins said.  Since receiving the League’s debate invitation, over Presidents’ Day Weekend, she’s discovered her surgeon is vacationing in Europe, she’s been unable to determine if the procedure will be that week or the following week.

So she’s been unable yet to commit to commit.

Meanwhile, the two Democratic incumbents, Joe Membrino and MacGuire Benton, who are running for their first full terms, have said they will be there, according to Maureen Murray, a member of the League’s Voter Service Committee who is organizing the debate.

According to League guidelines, debates have to be firmed up in time to be publicized in The Freeman’s Journal, which went to press Tuesday evening, Feb. 26, and arrives in local mailboxes Thursday the 28th, the last edition that can ensure the publicity will be in readers’ hands before the debate.

While Robbins was unable to commit as of the deadline, Murray said Robbins will be welcome to attend is her schedule allows.

The two trustee slots are for three years and, if elected, Robbins would be the first non-Democrat elected to village office since 2010.

Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch is also up for election, but doesn’t have a challenger.  She will be introduced on the debate night, but since she is unopposed she doesn’t qualify under League guidelines to participate, Murray said.  However, the mayor will be available after the debate to answer questions from attendees.

Liane Hirabayashi, co-president of the League, will moderate.

Despite the scheduling challenges, Robbins hope the pieces will fall into place.

“It looks like, potentially, I will be able to do it,” Robbins said.  “But this is something that is out of my control.”  She had hoped her physician’s office would confirm by Tuesday’s deadline, but with her doctor away, “there are a lot of moving parts.”

“It is what it is,” she added.  “If they want to go ahead, I don’t want to stop the process either.  I think (the debate) is a very important part of the process.  I didn’t want to promise something, then not be able to deliver it.”

The League of Women Voters of the Cooperstown Area will host a Candidates’ Debate for Village Trustee positions on Thursday, March 5, 2020 in the Village Meeting Room, 22 Main Street, Cooperstown New York.  The debate is planned 7-9 p.m.

Three candidates will be seeking two trustee positions.  Current trustees MacGuire Benton, Democratic and Many Voices, One Village parties, and Joseph Membrino, Democratic and Liberty parties will run for another term.  Mary Margaret Robbins, running under Republican and Heart of Cooperstown parties, is the third candidate.

Trustees Benton and Membrino have committed to attend the debate.  As of press time, candidate Robbins was unable to commit to attending the event.

Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh is uncontested at this election.  Ms. Tillapaugh will be introduced at the debate and will be available for conversation at the close of the debate.

The League of Women Voters of the Cooperstown Area is a non-partisan, political organization, which does not support or oppose political parties or candidates.  The League believes democracy is not a spectator sport and that providing a forum for citizens to meet and engage in dialogue around Village issues is important.



Mary Margaret Robbins Tells Her Story On ‘The Today Show’

Mary Margaret Sohns Tells

Her Story On ‘Today Show’

Mary-Margaret Sohns, a heart transplant recipient, will participate in the Heart & Sole walk in Newark, NJ on Sunday, Oct. 6 in hopes of raising $15,000 for the Heart Failure and Transplant Program at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. With her is husband Matt and daughter Maggie.

COOPERSTOWN – Mary Margaret Sohns of Cooperstown, who underwent a heart transplant earlier this year after Lyme Disease damaged hers beyond repair, told her story on a recent edition of  “The Today Show” in hopes of inspiring others to educate themselves on Lyme disease.


Posts navigation

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