Youth will have its way, and that was certainly the case in Oneonta Common Council Chambers at 1 p.m. today, where the a youthful crop of candidates – with their children at their sides – took the oath of office, most on the Constitution instead of the Bible, from City Judge Lucy Bernier. Above, young Henry Shue, 9 months, in dad Jared’s arms, surveyed the packed room as mom Kaytee Lipari Shue was sworn in as Ward 4 Council member. Inset middle, a shy Addison Harrington, 5, stood for a portrait with mom Kerri, sister Meghan, 13, and dad Scott, newly elected Council member from the Sixth Ward. When newly elected County Rep. Jill Basile, D-District 14, was sworn in, inset lower, son Matteo, 7, put his hand on the Constitution beside his mom’s. Five new Council members were sworn in: Shue, Harrington, Luke Murphy (Ward 1), Mark Davies (Ward 2) and Mark Drnek (Ward 8). Len Carson (Ward 5) was absent. In addition to Basile, Clark Oliver, District 11, was sworn in as a county representative. Incumbent Council members David Rissberger (Ward 3) and John Rafter (Ward 7) were sworn in for new terms. In his introduction, Mayor Gary Herzig praised the youthfulness of the new officials – Oliver is the youngest county board member in history, and Murphy is still in his 20s. Due to younger citizens, Herzig said, “small cities are being reborn” as “vibrant, progressive and creative.” (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Winter weather and holiday travel plans resulted in a near-empty Oneonta Common Council meeting earlier this evening, where outgoing members Michelle Fraser, First Ward, Melissa Nicosia, Second Ward, and Dana Levinson, Fifth Ward, didn’t attend their final meeting as Council members. With Michelle Osterhoudt having resigned Nov. 30, that left only, from left, David Rissberger, Third Ward, City Manager George Korthauer, Mayor Gary Herzig, City Clerk Kerriann Harrington, Russ Southard, Sixth Ward, John Rafter, Seventh Ward, and Joe Ficano, Eighth Ward, in attendance, leaving the council without a quorum. Though Ficano and Southard, both outgoing, were honored by Herzig for their contributions, inset photo, a special meeting was scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18 to address agenda items that could not be voted on tonight. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
ONEONTA – The Neahwa Park dog park and new positions in fire and public works departments were among the items in the city’s $20 million 2020 budget, but with a deadline looming Council members decried the lack of time given to addressing the changes.
“This year’s budget is a very aggressive one,” said Mayor Gary Herzig. “We give our Council members more time to discuss parking spaces than we do our budget.”
“It appears that there’s a lot more moving parts with this budget,” said Council member David Rissberger, Third Ward.
“This is the most confusing budget,” said outgoing Council member Melissa Nicosia, Second Ward. “I’m feeling overwhelmed by the information I’m being fed. I don’t want to have to go through this with a fine-toothed comb.”
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.
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.
Passion, determination, and confidence. If I were asked to describe Ward 5 Common Council candidate Danielle Tonner in three words, those three would describe her perfectly!
I have known Danielle for approximately 17 years, mainly due to our children attending school together. Often, our paths cross in school, on the field or court, or in some local shopping venue.
Naturally, our discussions lead to what the future of Oneonta looks like as we are both raising the next generation of voters and decision-makers. We have a vested interest in our community.
Firstly, let me stress how passionate Danielle is about making a difference and ensuring the vitality of Oneonta. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a master’s in Social Science, so she has prepared herself educationally for a political position where she can make a difference.
I have witnessed her interaction with others when she sees that policy changes were needed for the benefit of all. She stresses her points, provides the reasons why, and then prepares to push hard for her beliefs.
Then comes determination. Danielle feels it is extremely important to become involved in her local government by uniting members toward common goals. She understands that most individuals want the basics like employment, affordable housing, and more local business.
She is eager to be in a position to obtain more grants like the DRI so that tax dollars come back to our community. Furthermore, she can and will make sure that whatever is developed in our region is done so with as much green energy as possible.
Last, but certainly not least, Danielle has the confidence to get the job done. She has been employed by SUNY Oneonta for over 13 years. The key relationships she has created on campus will be very beneficial when working with the city.
She will be a fully transparent member, making sure that she is knowledgeable about the issues and providing viable, working solutions. Her convictions are strong, and she has experience, knowledge, and desire to back them up.
I have no doubt she will thrive when elected as Council member!
ONEONTA – Almost exactly a year after ABM Fire Equipment owner Bernie Zeh raised concerns with Common Council over a January 2016 ordinance that restricted his company’s ability to do business in Oneonta, he brought them up again – this time, with better results. He said the city never responded to his complaint last year or calls he made to the mayor and Steve Yearly, the Zoning Code Enforcement Officer.
But after listening to Zeh tonight, Common Council members said they would consider reviewing the ordinance, which requires companies like ABM to obtain a specific certification called NICET Level II certification in order to do fire sprinkler system inspection in the city.
“It’s not even necessary,” Zeh said in response to Council member Dave Rissberger’s questions about it. “I can get statements from sprinkler manufacturers…that I’ve talked to today that will put their 25 years or more experience over a NICET exam.”
ONEONTA – Oneonta is “onta” adventure. And art. And something delicious and something unique.
“The campaign will let people know that Oneonta exists and what it has to offer,” said Mayor Gary Herzig.
During Common Council this evening, Herzig announced a statewide online marketing campaign Trampoline Ad & Design, the who created the city’s new campaign, “We’re Onta Something,” will launch statewide “soon.”
Herzig explained Trampoline’s marketing campaign will be on social media, with some of it “just on websites,” and show four categories in which Oneonta is “onta something” – artistic, unique, adventurous and delicious.
ONEONTA – Oneonta is the right place at the right time.
That was Hudson Valley developer Ken Kearney’s assessment to a packed Chambers in Tuesday’s Common Council meeting of the positive impact his proposed development, Lofts on Dietz Street, would have on Oneonta’s downtown.
With evidence of positive results from two recent developments with artist lofts and middle-income apartment in Peekskill and Poughkeepsie, Kearney’s prediction for a similar project in Oneonta carried weight.
“We built our Peekskill buildings in a blighted area with high poverty rate and crime,” he said. “No one walked there at any time of day. We were the first investment in about 50 years. When it opened last year, there were people walking up and down Main Street. A coffee shop and restaurant have opened up.”
ONEONTA – There wasn’t a dry eye in Common Council chambers this evening.
Mayor Gary Herzig screened Jessica Vecchione’s award-winning short documentary, “A Slice of Hope,” which tells the story of Jennifer Grigoli, owner of Sal’s Pizzeria, and her efforts to employ people in recovery at her restaurant.
“Jennifer set an example to other businesses in Oneonta and made Oneonta an example for other cities,” Herzig said before presenting Grigoli with the Key to the City.
ONEONTA – Four candidates are vying for the Democratic nomination to two seats on Common Council in tomorrow’s primary election. Polls will be open noon-9 p.m. at Foothills. Click below for questionnaires provided by the four candidates:
PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: 24 years experience in the local business community. Manager of Peter Clark Student Rentals 1995-2010, Owner of various rental properties 2010-present. College music instructor 1994-1995.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Steering Committee, Oneonta Comprehensive Plan re-write 2017-2019. I have been deeply involved with the Oneonta small business community as part of my day-to-day professional life since 1995.
FAMILY: Peter Clark, father, Angela Clark, mother. My father is one of the most successful businessmen in the history of Oneonta. Some people seem to think that should count against me in this race. That’s just silly.
PHILOSOPHY OF GOVERNMENT: I don’t care whether we have small government or big government, but we definitely should have COMPETENT government. That means we listen to our citizens. That means we don’t put a huge income-restricted housing project in a neighborhood that is overwhelmingly against it. That means we recognize that the local small business community is struggling, and we address the needs this struggle brings to light. That means we embrace our local student population as full-fledged citizens of our community, citizens to be respected. They are, after all, half of the citizenry. That means we promote new job opportunities intelligently, because we recognize that there is terrible income inequality even in our small community, and that such inequality is thoroughly unacceptable. And that means we have leaders who understand the workings of our local economy, leaders that understand what grows the economy and what hinders it.
MAJOR ISSUES FACING CITY OF ONEONTA: Over 60 small businesses have closed since the DRI initiative was announced three years ago. We have, in that time, spent between 1.5 and 2 million dollars on consultants (mostly from outside Oneonta). We have shameful income inequality. According to the information I can get from the local school system, fully half of the families in this area are food insecure. And the city government needs leaders, like myself, who understand the needs of local business and the local economy.
MY QUALITIES:I understand the local economy very, very well, because I have been studying it for the past 25 years. Studying the economy is part of my job. Other than that, patience is a virtue. Impatience is also a virtue.
STATEMENT: Oneonta is in a period of rapid flux. The small businesses that weave our community together are certainly on thin ice. Many of the leaders currently in City Hall want to score cheap political points by creating a false sense that it’s “us” (the year-round residents) versus “them” (our college students). That kind of rhetoric is completely unproductive. We need leaders who understand business, understand higher education, understand housing, and how housing availability is effected by the local economy. If we keep waiting around for the DRI money to materialize and for the rail yards to be developed, we will all grow old waiting while the Oneonta that we know and love disappears beneath our feet.
As outgoing city councilwoman for Oneonta’s Second Ward, it is my privilege to endorse Dr. Mark Davies for the Ward 2 Common Council seat in the upcoming primary election on Tuesday, June 25.
Mark has been a city resident for 17 years. He is employed as a Hartwick College professor of education, and is coordinator of the environment, sustainability and society major there.
On a personal note, Mark is an avid mountain biker and hiker, and loves working and living in Oneonta. He feels the area offers the best trails for his outdoor pursuits, as well as being rich in agriculture and natural beauty. This gives him an opportunity to educate his students on the importance of protecting the environment.
Mark’s lifelong commitment to social and environmental justice has led him to be actively involved in local initiatives and boards.
As Common Council liaison to our Environmental Board, I have had the pleasure of working with Mark, who is chair, for the past 3½ years. He has been on the Environmental Board for six years, as chair for four years.
Mark works to help the city find ways to reduce Green House Gas emissions, develop “complete streets” to assure a walkable/bikeable city, and create a sustainable vision by being a member of the countywide Energy Task Force and the City Comprehensive Planning Committee. He is working to develop a plan securing grant money for a countywide composting facility to be located in Oneonta.
Dr. Davies’ knowledge of, and commitment to, our city, its residents, the county and the environment, are the reasons I feel he is the best candidate to represent Oneonta’s Second Ward. I encourage you to vote for Mark Davies for second ward councilman on June 25.