News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.


Rick Brockway

MOSS: Sandy Hook Memories Still Resonate

Sandy Hook Memories Still Resonate

To the Editor:

I remember the moment when I first heard about the shooting of first graders in Newtown, Conn. I was driving home from work, on a back road between Cooperstown and Oneonta. My immediate and natural response was to pull over, get out of my car and scream “My God, 6-year-olds! What is happening in this country?” The outrage and pain of it was overwhelming. I can’t even imagine what the families of those children went through.

This is the memory I have in response to Rick Brockway’s idea about Otsego County becoming a “sanctuary” for gun owners. I am a gun owner, and I don’t need a sanctuary. I also don’t need an assault weapon.

I am not worried about “them” (whoever that is) coming to take away my guns. First it was President Obama, then Hillary Clinton, now…who? It hasn’t materialized and just floats around as a paranoid ideation in a cloud of misinformation and fear. If someone is “coming to take my guns,” I hope they call first so I can put on the coffee.

My other response, when I read Brockway’s quote from none other than Adolph Hitler : “To conquer a nation first disarm its citizens,” is to wonder if Hitler knew that there are other ways to “disarm” people which go far beyond taking away their firearms.

You disarm people when you make them afraid; you disarm people when you violate the necessary social contracts which work well (like driving on the right side of the road) and
protect them; you disarm people when you withhold information that they need to carry on.

Most of all, you disarm people when you lie incessantly and make it impossible for them to
know what’s true or false, what’s real or fantasy, what’s right or wrong. Seems we are already disarmed, to me.


BROCKWAY: Guns Park Of Otsego County Heritage


Firearms Are Part Of

Otsego County Heritage

To the Editor:

In last week’s edition of this newspaper, Larry Bennett stated his opinion of me and the Second Amendment sanctuary movement here in Otsego County.  Let’s face it: Mr. Bennett is not native to the area and does not understand the people of rural, Upstate New York.  In my opinion, he also has limited knowledge of the law, especially the Constitution of the United States.

Mr. Bennett referred to me as “a Republican grandstander and fearmonger with zero understanding of the law.”  I’m surprised he didn’t call me a gun-toting deplorable as well.

Larry, the intent of your statement was only partially correct.   I am a very proud Conservative Republican.  I’m not a grandstander, but I will definitely stand up for what I think is right.  I wouldn’t say that I’m a fearmonger either, but I do worry for my children and grandchildren, as I see the dramatic shift to the extreme left in this country today.

The Declaration of Independence stated that we have “certain unalienable rights – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”   The Constitution guarantees these rights.  But when I see every Democratic candidate running for president in the upcoming election outright saying that once elected they will take our guns away, I’m concerned.

Adolf Hitler said, “To conquer a nation, you first must disarm its people.”

Larry, I know a little bit about the law.  I have a bachelor’s degree in English and American History.  I know the county can’t pass a law overriding a state law, and the state cannot pass laws that supersede a federal law, but we can make a statement.

If you read the Constitution and particularly the Second Amendment, you should be able to understand that it gives the people “the right to keep and bear arms,” and “that right shall not be infringed.”

The U.S. Supreme Court in Heller vs. District of Columbia in 2008 ruled, “The Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to possess firearms independent of service in a state militia and to use firearms for traditional lawful purposes including self-defense within the home.”

Now let me explain this so even you can understand it.  Governor Cuomo, along with the Downstate Democrats, passed the Safe Act in the middle of the night, substantially limiting our gun rights.  The Red Flag Law was also added to his anti-gun repertoire.  This year, the governor is proposing several new anti-gun laws including:

  • Limiting the purchase to just 20 rounds of ammunition a month after passing a federal background check for that purchase.
  • Closing all gun ranges.
  • Requiring every gun owner to buy a million-dollar liability policy in case someone is shot with one of our guns.
  • Restricting the type and number of the guns we can purchase.

ׇ• Passage of a state Senate bill (S7065) that would require a purchaser of any firearm, rifle or shotgun to submit to a mental health evaluation.

Now I might be a dumb country boy, but that sure sounds like infringement to me.

We love our guns and don’t plan on giving them up.  We grew up hunting, target shooting and just plinking at tin cans in the back yard.  We were taught gun safety and how to shoot and hunt by our fathers and grandfathers.

It was a way of life and still is.  When I went to high school, we hung our shotguns on racks in the back windows of our trucks and drove to school each day.  The first day of deer season was like a national holiday.  School was closed.  During those times there were no incidents or mass shootings.  Hell, we even had a rifle team in our school.

All persons holding public office have to raise their hand and swear on the Bible or the Constitution to uphold the Constitution of the United States.  It doesn’t mean just the parts you like.  It means all of it, including the Second Amendment.

Obviously Mr. Bennett, you didn’t follow the news very closely last week.  Ninety-one out of 96 counties in Virginia have declared themselves sanctuary counties for the Second Amendment.  On Martin Luther King Day well over 20,000 gun carrying, heavily armed, law-abiding citizens showed up to protest Governor Northam’s new gun laws and not a single shot was fired.

Much to the dislike of our liberal media, it was a peaceful demonstration unlike the ones at colleges and universities when the students dislike hearing a Conservative speaker.  In fact, those attending the Virginia protest even picked up all the garbage and protest signs before they left.  It’s important to note that the extreme left-wing governor of Virginia threatens to send in the National Guard to confiscate guns if the citizens don’t surrender them.

Good luck with that!  Even our own Senator Gillibrand has suggested similar gun confiscation, charging any gun owner with a felony and imprisonment if they don’t comply.

If cities, counties and states can declare themselves sanctuaries for illegal immigrants, protecting them from arrest and deportation, why can’t legal, law-abiding citizens declare their counties 2A sanctuary zones?  We should be protected from being arrested and criminally charged for the rights that our forefathers fought so hard for with their sweat and blood and are afforded to us by the Constitution of the Unites States.

Making Otsego County a Second Amendment sanctuary means that local law enforcement won’t use its resources to prosecute the proposed “unconstitutional” anti-gun laws.  Whether such a resolution has any teeth will depend on our local officials, but these measures are a reflection of the people’s sentiment on gun control.  We don’t want Otsego County or New York State to be a gun-free zone.

Presently we have over 2,400 members in the Otsego 2A Sanctuary Movement, and it’s growing every day.  We have collected thousands of signatures on our petitions.  Mark my word – this is just the beginning.  In fact, the New York Times last Tuesday had a headline that read, “The Second Amendment Sanctuary Movement Isn’t Going Away.”

It should be noted that some people who disagree with this movement went on social media and around Cooperstown and other communities in Otsego County, threatening to boycott those businesses that have 2A Sanctuary petitions on their counters.  These actions are not acceptable.

We are not alone.  The Second Amendment movement started a year ago in Western New York.  Wyoming County became the first sanctuary county in January 2019.  Today there are groups forming in Delaware, Chenango, Ulster, Schoharie, Oneida, Madison, Hamilton and Herkimer Counties, and I’m sure there are many more that I don’t know about.

Australia passed a law forcing all their citizens to give up their guns.  Their crime rate went up 400 percent in less than a year, because criminals didn’t obey the law.  Cuomo already released most recently arrested individuals that were held on bail and wants to close a number of the prisons, just turning dangerous, convicted criminals out on the streets.  Tell me Mr. Bennett, what are you going to do when one of them crashes through your door at three o’clock in the morning?  Call 911?  The police might make it to East Merideth in about an hour – maybe not.  Do you feel safe with that reality?

Thomas Jefferson was adamant about including the 2nd Amendment in the Bill of Rights.  He wrote, “The beauty of the 2nd Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it away.”  He also said, “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is at the last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”

It is estimated by the FBI that there are more than 420 million guns in the United States, yet the largest number of gun crimes is in cities with the toughest gun laws and are governed by Democrats.  There were over 500 gun-related killings in Chicago last year.  Hundreds of others were wounded.  Baltimore is just as bad, and I bet none of those weapons were legally obtained through background checks.  Gosh, maybe politicians should try confiscating guns in our inner cities from gang members and criminals before they attempt it with law-abiding citizens.

I asked a good friend of mine one day, “Why do you always carry a gun?”  He simply replied, “I don’t plan on being a victim!”

My wife commented, “What person in America would be OK  with taking away any of our rights?   This is not a partisan thing.  Republicans are not the only ones who hunt and own guns.  We have to protect the Constitution.”

Believe it or not Larry: If we lose the Second Amendment, the rest will soon follow.



Rick Brockway represents Laurens and Otego on the county Board of Representatives.

Social Media Buoys Gun Sanctuary Idea

Reprinted From Hometown

Oneonta & Freeman’s Journal

Social Media Buoys

Gun Sanctuary Idea

New County Rep Brockway

Finds Proposal Going Viral

By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to

Sportsman Adventures owner Bill Decker signs the “sanctuary” petition, and has it available at his Southside Oneonta store. (James Cummings/

ONEONTA – A Facebook Group aimed at making Otsego County a “Sanctuary for the Second Amendment” is picking up momentum.

On Dec. 20, an active hunter and gun owner, Kaleb White of Oneonta, created the “2A Otsego County Sanctuary Group” on the popular social media platform.

In just over a week, more than 800 people joined the group, including county Rep. Rick Brockway, R-Laurens.

White is circulating several petitions – at Losie’s Gun Shop and Sportman Adventures, and elsewhere.

And on Feb. 5, with Brockway’s support, he plans to ask the county Board of Representatives to designate Otsego a “sanctuary county.”

Meanwhile, Brockway, who will be sworn in on Jan. 2, is seeking to line up other board members behind the idea.  So far, only one other Upstate county – Wyoming, south of Batavia – is considering a “sanctuary” policy.

Social Media Buoys Gun Sanctuary Idea


Social Media Buoys

Gun Sanctuary Idea

New County Rep Brockway

Finds Proposal Going Viral

By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to

Sportsman Adventures owner Bill Decker signs the “sanctuary” petition, and has it available at his Southside Oneonta store. (James Cummings/

ONEONTA – A Facebook Group aimed at making Otsego County a “Sanctuary for the Second Amendment” is picking up momentum.

On Dec. 20, an active hunter and gun owner, Kaleb White of Oneonta, created the “2A Otsego County Sanctuary Group” on the popular social media platform.

In just over a week, more than 800 people joined the group, including county Rep. Rick Brockway, R-Laurens.

White is circulating several petitions – at Losie’s Gun Shop and Sportman Adventures, and elsewhere.

And on Feb. 5, with Brockway’s support, he plans to ask the county Board of Representatives to designate Otsego a “sanctuary county.”

Meanwhile, Brockway, who will be sworn in on Jan. 2, is seeking to line up other board members behind the idea.  So far, only one other Upstate county – Wyoming, south of Batavia – is considering a “sanctuary” policy.

White took action after learning all but six counties in Virginia have or plan to declare themselves “sanctuaries,” exempt from gun-control laws.

The “sanctuary” movement there erupted after Gov. Ralph Northam, with the support of a newly elected Democratic General Assembly, vowed to toughen gun laws.

“In just a matter of days, almost the entire state became a Second Amendment sanctuary,” White said.

The drive picks up on “sanctuary cities” movement, where 560 cities, counties and states nationally have declared they will not cooperate with the federal government in enforcing immigration laws.

Where White and others say Virginia may decide to seize legally owned guns, members of the new Virginia majority have been talking about “commonsense gun legislation.”

To the south of Oneonta, a “Delaware County 2A Sanctuary” Facebook page was created Dec. 20, and White heard about it from relatives there.

He spoke with T.J. Conant, who launched the Delaware page. “They have gained 1,939 members since December 20,” he was told. “It’s been absolutely taking off there.”

He said, “Nobody in Otsego County was doing it, so I said I would be willing to get it off the ground.”

With Conant’s help, the Oneontan launched the Otsego County page, two days before Christmas.

Tuesday, Dec. 31, membership rose from 783 in the morning to 826 in the afternoon.

“I’m amazed at the amount of support,” said White.

“I would like to go to the county board with 6,000 signatures minimum,” he continued.  “That’s 1 percent of the county population. The more signatures we get, the easier it will be to bring it in front of the county board and to say that this is what the people want.”

Sportman Adventures’ owner William Decker Jr. thinks “it’s a really good idea to keep (the) political agenda in check. This is something that goes back hundreds of years to our Constitutional rights, so we need to preserve it,” he said.

“We don’t have a lot of signatures yet, but we’ve talked to a lot of people and they’re excited about it,” he said. “There is strength in numbers. If other people make their voice heard, it will keep these ridiculous laws in check.”

For his part, Brockway is contacting “fish and game, and rod and gun clubs. We are going to get petitions out to as many people as possible to get signatures. If you have several thousand signatures you will get other people on the board to listen. It will take a group effort.”

Can he get his county board colleagues to pass the resolution? “I think it will depend on the number of petitions we have and how we present it. I know that a couple of representatives became part of the group. It’s a start,” he said.

Kaleb White sees the responses to date as coming from frustration that began with passage of the state’s Safe Act in January 2013 after the Sandy Hook school massacre in Connecticut.

“It’s frustrating trying to get a handgun or any sort of rifle other than a bolt action in New York. We’re not looking for no gun control and no gun laws, we want it to be more streamlined. We don’t want to jump through hundreds of hoops and spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on permits or training just to protect ourselves.”

Outdoorsman Rick Brockway Brings Sportsman’s Sensibility


Outdoorsman Rick Brockway

Brings Sportsman’s Sensibility

Rick Brockway discusses his trophy of a 1,000 -pound moose from one of his hunting adventures around the world. The new county representatives for Laurens and Otego is also an outdoor columnist. (Jim

Editor’s Note: This is the second of three profiles on newcomers will be joining the Otsego County Board of Representatives on Jan 1.  Next week: Clark Oliver.


LAURENS — An avowed conservative and lover of the outdoors, Rick Brockway hopes to bring that outlook to the Otsego County Board of Representatives.

For instance, as a long-time gun owner, the new District 3 (Laurens-Otego) rep sees a possibility of making the county an example of good practice when it comes to firearms.

“My dad was an avid hunter,” he said in an interview. “From the moment I could hold a gun he took me along, but we always respected the game. I was raised that way.”

With all the local knowledge, is there a way to showcase Otsego County “as a possible sanctuary for the Second Amendment.”

“We’re a rural county,” he said. “We’re hunters who’ve been raised with guns and know how to use them safely. It’s something I’m going to address. It’s important to me,” he said.

After taking his oath of office Jan. 2, he’ll have his opportunity. “I’m not one to sit back quietly; I’m a man of a lot of words,” he said.

The Brockway family first moved to Otsego County in 1802, farming in the vicinity of what is now Oneonta City Hall.

“In 1870, my great-great-grandfather Jesse Brockway acquired 260 acres in Lauren. My family has lived here for 149 years,” he said.

The new representative who was born in Oneonta, raised in Laurens and graduated from Laurens High School.  He went on to SUNY Oneonta, obtaining a English Literature  degree, then taught middle school English and Social Studies for 10 years before realizing that it wasn’t for him.

“My brother had horses out here, and his farrier, Lloyd Watson, asked me if I wanted a summer job. I’ve been a farrier ever since,” he said.

The next 40 years as a farrier connected him with people around the region.

“I used to shoe horses seven days a week. Horses are very popular in this area. From Margaretville to Cobleskill to Binghamton, everyone knows me from the horse business,” he said.

And his family’s history made getting involve “a natural step.”

“The Brockways have been in local politics for over 70 years,” he said. “My dad was either town councilman or supervisor for 50 years. He urged me to run for the councilman position and I ended up being town councilman for eight years.”

His wife Pat was a town justice for eight years, and is finishing up two terms as Laurens town supervisor at the end of the year.

“A few years ago, I decided I wanted to do something more. I wanted to give back to the community,” he said, and the county board seat seemed like a natural.

When county Rep. Kathy Clark, R-Otego, “decided not to run, I said to myself, this is my time.”

And with his first county board meeting coming up, Brockway is ready to tackle the issues of rural living.

“One thing that is important to me is the rural ambulance service. In late August I was in Jefferson trimming horses. Three kids got one of the horses tangled and it trampled their grandmother.

“It took 45 minutes for an ambulance to arrive. I witnessed the whole thing. There’s no excuse for an ambulance to be 45 minutes away. It’s one of the things I’m deeply committed to doing something about,” he said.



County Rep. Michele Farwell, D-Butternuts/Morris/Pittsfield, walked across the county board room before today’s meeting began to congratulate Republican Rick Brockway and welcome him to the Otsego County Board of Representatives. Just 12 hours before, both were anxiously awaiting elections results.  He won the District 3 (Laurens-Otego) seat over Democrat Caitlin Ogden; an incumbent, she won a challenge from Marcia Hoag, an independent.  Today, they were colleagues.  (Jim Kevlin/
Republicans Keep County Board Majority

Republicans Keep

County Board Majority

Rick Brockway, center, the victor in county board District 3, is flanked by fellow Republicans Scott Harrington, left, and Len Carson, at the Oneonta Vets’ Club after ballots were tallied Tuesday, Nov. 5. (Ian Austin/


The Republicans rained on the Democrats’ parade on Election Night, Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Republican Rick Brockway won Laurens-Otego’s District 3, 697-548, turning back a Democratic effort to take control of the county board for the first time in memory.

“Otsego County is red,” declared a jubilant Republican County Chairman Vince Casale. “It has always been red. It will always be red. People in Otsego County will always reject the extreme liberal agenda that is attempted to be forced upon them.”

County Democratic chairman Aimee Swan had this riposte: “Otsego County is purple. Otsego County voted for (Congressman Antonio) Delgado in 2018. Democrats can win here. Democrats do win here. And Democrats will win here. If Otsego was so red, we would not have a split board.”

During a victory celebration at the Oneonta Vets’ Club, Brockway said, “I’m exhausted. I’m glad it’s over. And I feel really good.” He added, “My family’s always been in politics in Laurens. I was a councilman for eight years. It’s a logical step to go to the county.”

If the margin in District 3 holds, Brockway’s victory over Democrat Caitlin Ogden assures the Republican, allied with Conservative county Rep. Meg Kennedy, Mount Vision, will continue to control county government for another two years.

However, Kennedy can ally on individual issues with the Democrats and shift the majority in that direction, as she likely will as main architect of the county manager form of government.

The county board was expected to vote Wednesday, Nov. 6, on approving a public hearing for its December meeting, after which the concept of professional management could be implemented.

The Democrats had appeared bullish about Ogden’s chances – a Laurens resident, she is a grantsman at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown – particularly following a stealth write-in campaign that knocked Brockway off the Independent line in the June 26 primary.

Brockway, a farrier and newspaper outdoors columnist, would succeed Republican Kathy Clark, a former county board chairman.

In other county races, as expected, incumbent Democrat Michele Farwell, District 2, decisively held her seat over Marcia Hoag, 636-246. And Democrat Jill Basile, District 14, beat Libertarian Wilson Wells, 199 to 48.

“This community has served my family well,” said Basile. “And now, I can serve them back.”
In the City of Oneonta, Republicans Len Carson won the Ward 5 Common Council seat, and Scott Harrington, Ward 6, doubling GOP representation in City Hall. Both are former Otsego County Representatives.

“My goal was always to get here,” said Carson. “I’m going to work hard, not just for my ward, but for the whole city.”

Both pledged to hold Town Hall meetings. “The best way to represent is to get feedback,” said Harrington. “I want to be very open.”

In other races in the Democratic city, two Democrats beat two Republicans: It was Kaytee Lipari Shue over Jerid Goss 157-22, and Mark Drnek over Josh Bailey 102-73.

“This is something I’ve always dreamed about,” said Shue. “I got to shake the mayor’s hand and we started our partnership together. 2020 will be here before I know it!”

And in the Town of Richfield, a Republican triumvirate, Nick Palevsky, Fred Eckler and Ed Bello Jr., turned back one Democrat and two other non-affiliated candidates tied to the Protect Richfield neighbors.

In Richfield Springs, while Palevsky, the former supervisor, led David Simonds, 296-291, the Republican pointed out its only five votes.

“I hope it holds,” he said, noting there are 100 absentee ballots out there. “That’s the only thing I can say right now.”

Usually, it takes a week to count the absentees and affirm the results; this year, he said, with all the changes the state Legislature made in election laws this year, it is expected to take two weeks.

Of Palevsky’s fellow Republican runningmates, incumbent Fred Eckler, with 326, was reelected, as was newcomer Ed Bello Jr., with 363.

Simonds runningmates, Democrat Jeremy Fisher (203) and incumbent Kane Seamon (284), who lost the June 26 Republican primary, both lost by sizeable margins.

Palevsky was drawn into the race for supervisor by a comprehensive plan and zoning code developed by adherents of the Protect Richfield moving to stop the five-turbine Monticello Hills Wind Farm.





Rick Brockway

LAURENS – A few moments ago, county Republican Chairman Vince Casale said it appears Rick Brockway has won the District 3 Laurens-Otego, keeping the GOP in control of the Otsego County Board of Representatives.

According to Casale’s tally, which he stressed was unofficial, Brockway had 877 votes to Democrat Caitlin Ogden’s 677, with only 100 absentee ballots in play.

An Ogden victory would have shifted the county board to a Democratic majority for the first time in memory.

Vote Farwell, Brockway For County Board Seats


Vote Farwell, Brockway

For County Board Seats

2017 – now, that was a year for local democracy.

Twelve of the 14 seats on the Otsego County Board of Representatives were contested – only Gary Koutnik in Democratic Oneonta and Dan Wilber in Republican Town of Burlington got a pass.

Reelect Michele Farwell in county board District 2.

This year, regrettably, there are three, but one race calls out for an endorsement:
Michele Farwell, the Democrat running for reelection in District 2 (Morris, Butternuts and Pittsfield).

Send Political Letters


By noon Monday, 10/28

Every county board has top performers, the most influential, the reps who make things happen.

Currently, that would include the peace-making chairman, David Bliss, plus Meg Kennedy, Peter Oberacker, Andrew Marietta and perhaps Ed Frazier. When they speak, things happen.

Others, certainly, may have a slightly different list.

A good case can be made to include Michele Farwell in that select group for one initiative alone: She suggested the county board join a lawsuit against Big Pharma to try to reclaim some of the costs of fighting the heroin epidemic.

Now, it seems likely the county’s claim will be recognized.

Just a freshman, she also is co-chairing the county Energy Task Force with Kennedy. Energy is a divisive issue. It’s unclear if a consensus can be reached. But both Kennedy and Farwell have shown restraint and consideration in navigating a ship in rough waters.

Like the best of the reps, she doesn’t speak a lot (or too little.) But when she speaks, she’s worth listening do.

Farwell is being challenged by an independent, Marcia Hoag, who should be saluted for running in a year when so few have stepped forward. But Farwell has earned reelection.

In the two other contested races:

Elect Rick Brockway in county board District 3.

• District 3 (Otego-Laurens), Republican Rick Brockway is amiable and approachable, the kind of legislator that every elected body requires. He knows
the territory, and he knows his would-be constituents. Vote for Brockway.

• District 14 (Oneonta’s Wards 7-8), Jill Basile, has the edge against Wilson Wells, a Libertarian and engaging young man. As the Democratic nominee in the Democratic city, Basile has appropriately attended the past several county board meetings to prepare herself for the job she will probably hold.

Democrats Signal Plans To Republicans



Signal Plans

To Republicans

Otego-Laurens District 3 Shift

Can Take Away GOP’s Majority

Friends, the Democrats are coming to get us, and it isn’t going to be pretty.

Caitlin Ogden
Rick Brockway

Chad McEvoy, the local party’s brainy director of communications, sent out an email on Oct. 1 that affirms an editorial that appeared here in early summer – the future of party politics in Otsego County will be determined in District 3, where two newcomers, Republican Rick Brockway and Democrat Caitlin Ogden, are competing for an open seat on the county Board of Representatives.

If Ogden wins, control of the board shifts from Republican to the first solid Democratic majority in county history.  (In 2006, Democrats allied with Republican Don Lindberg and took control, but without a true majority.)

In the emailed memo that begins to the right of here, McEvoy points out “the political stars are aligning … This could be huge for the future of our community,” and he ticks off what would be slam dunks for a Democratic majority:  Creation of a county manager, improving energy efficiency of county buildings, a community college, buying up and repairing blighted properties.

Nothing wrong there, but things get a little iffy when he gets into the “diversity of thought” in the party on two issues in particular. One is “doing our part to fight climate change” – that likely means no fossil-fuel bridge to green energy.  Two is “whether we want to roll out cannabis production and retail sales locally in a post-legalization world.”  We know how that’s likely to go.

As the Cooperstown Village Board – all Democrats – has proved, an ideology-driven governmental body with no opposition will do what it wants.

In control for almost a decade now, Democrats are only now hitting their strides and the community is shocked, shocked.

One, using a Comprehensive Plan that was largely developed without public input (as most are), the trustees stirred a hornets nest by looking to plunk an apartment house in one of the village’s finest single-family neighborhoods.

Two, the trustees approved flying the Pride Flag next June at the downtown flagpole, against the advice of the village attorney and the one attorney-trustee.  If the Ku Klux Klan seeks a similar permit, Village Hall can’t deny it because of the precedent set; fight, it will lose, the attorneys said.

Three, blinking signs are popping up everywhere, blinking, blinking, blinking into local living rooms.  Are they needed?  Do they work? They are an irritation, and there’s an ethical question about government applying stimulus-response to the citizenry.

The point is, absent any viable opposition (for now), the village trustees can do whatever they want, and are doing so.  New Trustee MacGuire Benton was explicit:  If people don’t like the trustees’ decisions, they can run for office.  So there.

Other than no fossil-fuel bridge and Big Pot in our future, there’s a lot of nuttiness in Albany that’s headed our way, with the Democrats in control of both houses and the Governor’s Office.

An interesting vote in point was the county board’s resolution against the “Green Light” law authorizing “illegal immigrants” from getting drivers’ licenses.

Every Democrat on the county board voted nay or abstained on that resolution, except Andrew Stammel, D-Town of Oneonta, who voted aye angrily, saying he had been sandbagged.

This month, county Rep. Gary Koutnik, D-Oneonta, even voted nay on the “Justice for Jill” resolution.  The whole issue of the new Democratic majority emptying prisons will have to wait for another day, but it’s real, and the impacts will be far-reaching.

And this is just the beginning.  The other day, New York City’s Human Rights Commission imposed a $250,000 fine on the use of the term, “illegal immigrant,” in certain context.  Just the beginning.

On the other hand, give Otsego County Democrats credit.  In the wake of Donald Trump’s election in 2016, they mobilized and organized.  The county went for Trump, but a motivated party swung it in 2018 for Democrat Antonio Delgado, our new congressman.

The Republicans need to show similar vigor, as they are in the Town of Richfield, in organizing against a Democratic effort to impose a restrictive comp plan and zoning code on the community.

With a 7-7 split on the board – the Republicans keep control through weighted voting and an alliance with Meg Kennedy, Mount Vision, a Conservative Party member – the GOP failed to mount any effective challenge in the City of Oneonta, where Republicans as recently as 2015 controlled two of the four county board seats, plus the Town of Oneonta’s.

In District 1 (Butternuts/Morris), no Republican has challenged Michelle Farwell, nor was Stammel challenged, vulnerable if anyone is.

The Republicans need some soul searching, and to pull up their bootstraps.

District 3 is a good place to get started.

The Democrats, according to the McEvoy Memo, are going to give it all they’ve got.  A sneak attack in the primary won the Independent line for Ogden, where only Brockway’s name appeared on the ballot.

The numbers were too small (30 to 4) to be meaningful, but it showed what can be done – what might be done.  If Brockway is to be elected, Republicans need to give him all the support they can.

And there’s mischief to contend with, too.  Outgoing Otego-Laurens county Rep. Kathy Clark sought out Ogden at the last county board meeting and chatted with her cheerfully for a few minutes.  Later, Ogden said Clark  advised her to increase the size of her name on roadside signs.

Clark broke with the GOP last year when the Republican County Committee failed to endorse her husband, Bob Fernandez, for sheriff.  Republicans shouldn’t underestimated the damage she might do.

In the last county board election, this newspaper endorsed the Democratic slate, and several are performing splendidly – Farwell among them, but also Andrew Marietta, Cooperstown/Town of Otsego, and even Liz Shannon, City of Oneonta, who is retiring after one term.

This year, though, with the doings in Albany and local Democratic militancy on the energy issue, Otsego County needs the county board as a bulwark against a potentially destructive Democratic tide.

Come on, Republicans, shake it off.  Keep District 3.

McEVOY: County Manager, Certainty; Energy, Pot Still Up In Air


County Manager,

Certainty; Energy,

Pot Still Up In Air

Editor’s Note: Chad McEvoy, the Otsego County Democratic Party’s communications director, emailed this memo Oct. 1, alerting county Democrats they are one seat away from winning a majority on the county Board of Representatives, and what it means if that happens.

By CHAD McEVOY • OCDC Communications Director

In 2019 the political stars are aligning just right to give Democrats the best shot yet at capturing an outright majority on the Otsego County Board. Building on the work we did in 2017, we are now just one district pickup away from flipping the county legislature blue for the first time in history, as far back as anyone can remember.

Chad McEvoy

This could be huge for the future of our community, so why does it seem like no one has really noticed?

Certainly people tend to pay less attention to local races. We all also worked really hard in 2018 on state and congressional campaigns and we might understandably be a little burned out. Perhaps, however, there is such an ingrained assumption that we live in a Republican-dominated area that even dedicated Democratic activists can scarcely imagine an Otsego County where the agenda is being set by a Democratic chair.

In meetings earlier in the year, when we first began to see the opportunity before us, we were almost shocked to realize that a majority was within grasp. Were we doing the math right?  What had we missed? What would it mean if we actually won? For years the possibility of a Democratic majority seemed so inconceivable that we were not even practiced in formulating the question. This, I think, is the real reason for the awkward gap we are seeing between the very real possibility of victory and the seemingly anemic level of enthusiasm on the part of the normally engaged Otsego County Democratic activist base. People just can’t quite envision it yet.

In an effort to answer this question about what we would actually do if we won, over the last several weeks I have had focused conversations with some highly engaged Otsego Democrats, each of whom came with different sets of interests and subject matter expertise.  I spoke one-on-one with them about their visions for what the county could be in a world where Democratic policies and principles are actually setting the political agenda and not constantly being stymied.

Everyone I talked to agreed that Otsego County needs to create and fill some form of a county manager role.  In order to revitalize county administration we need to take the burden off the 14 part-time politicians and vest an individual professional with the authority to manage many aspects of county business with an executive function. A good manager, appointed by a Democratic majority, could bring new energy to the county bureaucracy, perform a structural reorganization of its staff, streamline government functions, and be a singular advocate for the needs of our communities when aggressively pursuing grants and funding.  As Democrats, we support the idea that competent government professionalism should be nurtured and can provide great dividends.

Everyone I talked to also agreed that a Democratic majority could finally pursue critical green initiatives, with the goal of protecting our natural and agricultural land, increasing our appeal to tourists, and doing our part to fight climate change.  Ideas for what we could accomplish given the power to do so included things like smart invasive species control, improving energy efficiency in government buildings, pushing the county to use more renewable products, curtailing the overuse of carcinogenic pesticides and herbicides, continuing to resist fracking and other extractive land uses, supporting and promoting organic farming, keeping XNG trucks off roads where they don’t belong, and exploring the idea of selling carbon offsets to fund reforestation projects on county land.

Personally, I am motivated to win in 2019 by the idea that a Democratic majority will be able to push our part of the world to do what it can to prepare for and resist the coming destabilization of the global climate.  With a majority at our backs, a whole menu of environmentally positive initiatives moves into the realm of possibility. Under continued Republican leadership, however, nothing like this seems remotely feasible.

A number of other ideas on a wide range of topics surfaced over the course of my conversations.  One commonality, however, was a sense that these ideas could never come to full fruition if we continue doing political business as usual in Otsego County. We discussed the idea of an Otsego community college, various infrastructure improvement projects, beefing up the planning board, developing long-term capital improvement and economic development plans, improving county constituent services, and dramatically improving how the county communicates with its citizens. The problem of rural EMS availability came up several times, as did housing issues and support for animal shelters.

A favorite of mine is the idea of establishing a land bank with the mandate to buy up blighted properties. The properties would be cleaned up, historically important structures stabilized, and wetlands, farmland, and forests rehabilitated. These properties would eventually be resold at a higher price; all of this would stimulate our economy and tax base, remove unsightly messes, preserve our architectural history, and help us do our part for the natural world.  It is an idea that could make a huge difference in our community, but again, nothing like it is even conceivable under the status quo.

There are also several areas where there is a diversity of thought on the Democratic side about how to proceed—for example, on the specifics of how fossil fuel infrastructure projects should balance economic interests with environmental concerns or whether we want to roll out cannabis production and retail sales locally in a post legalization New York.  We may not always have 100% consensus, but we do have a shared understanding that we would much rather entrust these decisions to Democrats than to the Republicans who have clearly been making the wrong calls, and for the wrong reasons, for decades.

There is a fundamental sentiment that current and past leadership has done little more than manage the slow senescence of our region. Our current economy is a reflection of the ills of decades of declining population, unhealthy demographic trend lines, and systematic underinvestment in our physical, energy, information, and human infrastructure. If tax cuts, penny-pinching, and government inactivity were the real paths to prosperity, that would be plainly evident by now.  Instead we need to bring in new energy, new ideas, and new decision makers who will take positive, proactive steps toward revitalizing our region.

My purpose here has not been to prescribe all the possible things a Democratic-led county could finally accomplish, but to try to get people to start their own ideation on the topic.  What would you like to see happen in Otsego County? It’s now time to start dreaming big.

Why do we think we can win?

Because of our success in 2017, the Democrats are now in a tie with the Republicans in terms of board seats, with a total of seven each.  Yet we are denied the chair of the county board (and everything that comes with it) because of the way the votes are weighted by district. The reason that 2019 provides such an opportunity is that there are only three contested seats.  Two of these seats are currently held by Democrats, and we expect them to be fairly easy to defend.

  1. This leaves just District 3 (covering the towns of Otego and Laurens) as the likely swing district that will determine the political fate of the county. And while Republicans have a moderate numerical advantage in District 3 by registration numbers, there are several factors that make us feel extremely optimistic that we can take this seat:

  2. We already almost did! In 2017 the Democratic candidate came up only 17 votes short in the absentee ballot count.

  3. The longtime Republican incumbent is retiring, leaving this an open race.

  4. We have an extremely hardworking and dedicated candidate in Caitlin Ogden, who has been knocking on doors in her community for months, already laying the groundwork for an effective get-out-the-vote blitz in October and early November.

  5. We have already proven we can outwork the other side. A dedicated group of activists mounted a write-in campaign in the primary this summer to challenge the Republican on the Independence Party line and won. It wasn’t just a victory. It was a blowout, with Caitlin garnering 88% of the vote as a write-in against someone whose name was actually printed on the ballot.

How do we win?

We simply have to significantly outwork the other side.  Small, local elections like this hinge on so few votes (see 2017) that the side that tries the hardest is virtually assured victory.  This is why I am saying that a Democratic Otsego County is ours for the taking—if we work hard enough for it.

Of course, we will use every technique and tool at our disposal as well.  The core group of volunteers on the Ogden campaign have extensive professional experience running local- and state-level campaigns.  We are already applying battle-tested best practices around voter communications, field operations, and data collection. But we don’t yet have enough support or resources to execute a campaign plan commensurate with the size of the opportunity before us.  Quite simply, we need more money and more volunteers.

What can you do to help make this a reality?

  • Start dreaming big about what a Democratic future in Otsego County will look like.

  • Sign up to volunteer to write postcards, make calls, and knock on doors up until election day. Basically nothing in campaign tactics has ever proven more effective than an engaged volunteer with a big smile knocking on people’s doors and reminding them to vote.

  • Follow Caitlin’s campaign on Facebook and invite your friends to “like” it too. Sign up for her campaign emails while you are at it.

  • If you know anyone who lives in Laurens or Otego, PLEASE tell them about the District 3 race and how important every single vote will be on November 5. Get them to commit to vote.

  • Get involved with the Otsego County Democratic Committee. We are all deeply strapped for time and always need volunteers. We also currently have about 60 open seats across the county, and we welcome new voting members.

  • We also need to hold on to the other two currently Democratic-held seats that have challengers in 2019. Michele Farwell in District 2 (Pittsfield, Morris, and Butternuts) and Jill Basile in District 14 (Oneonta Wards 7 and 8) will need our support. If you live in those districts, please make sure every Democrat you know votes this November.

  • And, of course, please donate. Contributions will be used to fund materials, events, and advertisements to help us reach more voters. Remember, your political dollar goes miles farther at the local level than anywhere else. You simply cannot get a better return on investment in terms of actual impact on your life as an Otsego County resident than you can by helping us flip the whole of the county blue with a District 3 win. Giving $100 to your favorite 2020 presidential candidate is but a drop in the ocean, but in this race it could very well be what makes the difference in winning control of our entire county.

In working for this victory, we are also doing our part to further the rebuilding of the rural Democratic Party infrastructure, which has been nearly catatonic throughout areas like ours for decades—ignored by both the party establishment and the opposition. A strong county means a stronger base for our congressional candidate, which means a stronger national Democratic Party.  We may live in the hinterlands, but what we do here really does matter. In fact, as citizens of a purple county in a purple congressional district, what we do here matters more on a macropolitical level than perhaps anywhere else in the state.


Chad McEvoy

Chair of the Communications Subcommittee of the Otsego Democrats
Communications Director, Committee to Elect Caitlin Ogden
2017 Otsego County Board Candidate, District 6
2018 New York State Assembly Candidate, District 101
Voting Member of the New York State Democratic Committee
Sustainable Otsego PAC Board Member
Treasurer, Clark Oliver for Otsego County Board
Treasurer, Rural Majority PAC

Two more things you should know about voting in 2019:

  • For the first year ever, we will have the opportunity to vote early in New York State. Even if you don’t need to vote early, please do.  The opponents of early voting will be sure to capitalize on low turnout rates the next time the issue is up for funding. The details are here.

  • In 2019 there will be two Democratic candidates on the ballot for New York Supreme Court. These seats come up just once every 14 years. You will have the ability to vote for three candidates.  However, do not use your third vote for one of the Republicans. The three Supreme Court seats will be filled by the top three vote-getters of any party, and Democrats giving their third vote to a Republican could mean that no Democrat wins at all.  Your two votes will still count if you abstain on the third vote. Please spread this information to every Democrat you meet between now and election day.


Rick Brockway Family Legacy Made Political Bid Natural Step


Rick Brockway Family Legacy

Made Political Bid Natural Step

Rick Brockway, Republican candidate for county board from District 3 (Otego-Laurens), stands in front of a barn commissioned by his grandfather, who was confident President McKinley’s election would bring prosperity, and contracted to have the job done in 1896.  (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

LAURENS – A couple of months ago, Rick Brockway, a farrier by trade, arrived at a farm east of Stamford, just over the Schoharie County line.

The grandmother there directed her grandkids: Go up to the pasture and bring down the horse.  As they led the horse to be re-shoed, it got caught in a gate.  It reared, and its front hoofs struck the grandmother; badly injured, she fell to the ground.

Brockway ordered the children off the scene.  Turning to the elderly woman, he discovered she had passed away.

He called Delaware County 911. They transferred the call to Schoharie 911, but a delay followed as the dispatcher sought to determine the accident’s exact location.

Brockway waited.  Finally, the Summit EMTs arrived at the scene.  Forty-five minutes had elapsed.

“I didn’t sleep for three nights,” he said.

So when asked his issues in the campaign for District 3 representative on the Otsego County Board of Representatives, the Republican replied:  Helping rural  emergency squads deal with declining volunteers and other challenges. (See other article, A1)

While this is Brockway’s first run for office, he’s no stranger to local politics.  His father, Jesse, who passed away at age 92 in 2009, served as Laurens town supervisor for 42 years.  Rick’s wife, Pat, served two terms as Laurens town justice, and will be leaving office at the end of this year after two terms as town supervisor.

“My family’s been in politics for 75 years,” Brockway said in an interview at the kitchen table of his Route 23 home.  He first considered running for county board in 2017, but dropped out on learning Kathy Clark, R-Otego, planned to seek a final term.  When he learned she wasn’t running again, he jumped in.

“I know their ideas,” he said of his prospective constituents.  “I know their values.  I know their wants and needs.”

Few people have deeper local roots.  After the family settled in Lyme, Conn., in the 1600s, four Brockway brothers soon headed west, walking into the Hudson Valley.

The family then migrated into the Catskills, to Stamford, where one member, Philip, became a noted gunsmith.  In 1801 or ’02, Brockways moved to Oneonta, locating on the south side of what it now Main Street, driving their cows daily up today’s Ford Avenue to  graze in the neighborhood of SUNY Oneonta campus.

Returning from World War II – his boat was narrowly missed by two U-Boat torpedoes while patrolling the Panama Canal – dad Jesse bought the 267 acres in the Town of Laurens.  His 34-cow herd supported two families, then one, before he gave up dairying once his children were grown – but not before young Rick experienced milking cows and other rural joys.

At 1964 graduate of Laurens Central, Brockway went to SUNY Oneonta in 1968, majoring in English and history, then taught at Wells, in the Adirondacks, Mount Upton and, finally, Worcester.

In summer 1980, he helped his brother, Skip, now living in Albuquerque, with his quarter horses, and met farrier Lloyd Watson, who planned to retire.

“Do you want a business?” Lloyd asked, and Brockway spent the next school year teaching days and shoeing horses after hours. “I made twice as much shoeing horses as teaching school,” he recalled.

He never looked back.  Even today, he’s out shoeing 2-3 days a week.  Contrary to some farriers, he’s willing to shoe one horse or two or three, and drives from customer to customer with a 108-pound anvil in the back of his SUV.

In recent years, he and Pat have rented their five-bedroom home to Dreams Park and All-Star Village families, spending their summers in a 39-foot trailer he set up by a pond on the back end of the property.

“I’m an outdoor person,” he added.  “I spent my life in the woods, hiking, hunting and fishing.” For his 60th birthday, he took a 120-mile hike across the Adirondacks; for his 70th, he climbed on high peaks in the Catskills.

For years, he wrote an outdoors column for the Daily Star, but was asked to set it aside for the campaign’s duration.

For the past few months, he’s been canvassing the whole district systematically – lists of streets and voter addresses are stacked on his kitchen table – with the idea of knocking on every door by Nov. 5, Election Day.

Besides helping resolve EMS challenges, he’s concerned the county has sufficient fossil-fuel resources during any transition to renewables.

He also supports full broadband for the county as quickly as possible; he and Pat have Spectrum at their home, but many of his would-be constituents don’t.




Dist. 3 Candidate Jumps Claim On Independent Line


Dist. 3 Candidate

Jumps Claim On

Independence Line

Caitlin Ogden

LAURENS – Rick Brockway, Republican candidate for the county board from District 3, expected to coast onto the Independence Party line yesterday, Primary Day in Otsego County.

Instead, Laurens-Otego Democrats packed the polls and, by 30 votes to 4, seized the line for their candidate, Caitlin Ogden.

“Our campaign has a great deal of momentum and we’re looking forward to November,” MacGuire Benton, Cooperstown village trustee and Ogden For Otsego campaign manager, in an email.

Clark Doesn’t File Petitions For Reelection


Clark Doesn’t

File Petitions

For Reelection

Brockway, Ogden Vie In District 3

By JIM KEVLIN  • Special to

Kathy Clark

COOPERSTOWN – A dominant actor appears to be leaving the political stage:   By today’s 5 p.m. deadline, county Rep. Kathy Clark, R-Otego, the former two-term board chairman, had not filed petitions to run again for her District 3 seat.

Absent an independent filing, it appears that either Republican Rick Brockway, the outdoors columnist and farrier from Laurens, or Democrat Caitlin Ogden, a grants administrator at the Baseball Hall of Fame, will be representing the Otego-Laurens district after the Nov. 5 election.

Newcomer Seeks County Rep Seat In Clark’s District

Newcomer Seeks

County Rep Seat

In Clark’s District

If Former Chair Doesn’t Retire,

She May Face Primary In June

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Ric Brockway

Ric Brockway of Laurens, former teacher, ferrier and writer of a popular outdoor column, is running for the Republican nomination in District 3 (Laurens and Otego).

He would face county Rep. Kathy Clark, the former board chairman, unless she retires.  She did not return a call this afternoon as to her intentions.

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