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News of Otsego County

Rick Brockway

Century Old Barn Finds New Home
One Man’s History, Another Man’s Treasure

Century Old Barn Finds New Home

By JOE TOPPE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Rick Brockway on the barn’s half-demolished “bridge” that gave hay wagons access to the third floor. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

It was 1897, the same year Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” was published and a gold rush lured scores of prospectors to the Klondike.

Here in Otsego County, Rick Brockway’s great-great grandfather Jesse was driving the final nails into his West Laurens’ dairy barn.

Now, more than 50 years since the family used the barn for farming, only the structure’s frame is worth saving.

“It’s been used as a family storage unit since 1970, but that is no longer economical,” Brockway said in an interview.

“I wanted to refurbish the barn to its original look, but it was too expensive,” he said. “It was a difficult choice, but I talked with my kids and brother in New Mexico before making the decision.”

According to Brockway, it would have cost $100,000 to restore the barn to working condition, “so we tried to sell it, but couldn’t give it away, until we posted it on Facebook in hopes of finding someone interested in salvaging it.”

Originally, the barn cost less than $800 to complete, and required a master carpenter and 13 assistants with room and board to build.

County Board Rematch Emerging In District 3

County Board Rematch

Emerging In District 3

Ogden Plans Challenge To Brockway

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Caitlin Ogden

LAURENS – A rematch is shaping up this fall in the race for the county Board of Representatives’ District 3.

As they did in 2019, Democrat Caitlin Ogden, Laurens, will again face Republican Rick Brockway, West Laurens, to represent the towns of Laurens and Otego.

“I am running to give the people of Laurens and Otego the representation on the county board that they deserve,” Ogden said today in announcing her candidacy.

Capitol Attack, Riot Resolutions Passed Routinely – Then, Oops!

Capitol Attack, Riot Resolutions

Passed Routinely – Then, Oops!

County Rep. Rick Brockway, R-West Laurens, top row, center, brought a moment of levity – and truth – to today’s county board meeting.

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – After last month’s hour-long fiery debate at the county board meeting over resolutions expressing contrary views on the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, both resolutions went through routinely at today’s meeting as part of the consent agenda.

Well, almost.

County Rep. Rick Brockway, on Zoom from his West Laurens home, answered a question his wife was relaying to him from a caller.

“We didn’t pull either of them,” replied Brockway.  “They didn’t pull theirs, so we didn’t pull ours.”

“Rick, you’re not on mute,” one of his fellow Zoom meeting participants called out.

WHELAN: These Facts Correct: Guns Are Killing Us
LETTER from MARY ANNE WHELAN, MD

These Facts Correct:

Guns Are Killing Us

To the Editor:

In his most recent letters to the editor on the subject of gun regulation, Mr. Brockway seems to have the shoe on the wrong foot when it comes to factual statements, a particularly bad error for a blacksmith.

In addition to his past claims that the Democratic presidential candidates all wanted to take your guns away, which he surely knew to be false – none of them had ever said any such thing – he has now decided that Kirsten Gillibrand wants to put you in jail for not surrendering them. Oh please.

And with regard to the consequences of the Australian gun buy-back program, the statement that there was a 400 percent increase in gun violence as a consequence was long ago flagged by Facebook as false information. In fact there has been a decrease in gun-related shootings and crimes of violence since the measures taken in Australia.

Here are some facts for him, and if he disagrees with them he can argue with the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine and Pediatrics, which is the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

From Pediatrics, 2019: STATE GUN LAWS AND PEDIATRIC FIREARM-RELATED MORTALITY: “States with laws requiring universal background
checks for firearms purchase in effect for equal to or more than five years had lower pediatric mortality rates.”

From Pediatrics, 2017: “The shooter playing with a gun was the most common circumstance surrounding unintentional firearm deaths of both older and younger children.”

From the New England Journal of Medicine, 2018: Fifteen per cent of all deaths in children and adolescents were firearm related. Of all firearm deaths at all ages, 26 percent occurred among children and adolescents.

In March and April of 2020, gun sales soared, a typical American response to feeling threatened, this time by a virus – perhaps people thought they could shoot it – and pediatric deaths from unintentional shootings by children increased by 45 percent compared to the rates in the preceding three years, as more guns became domestically available.

These facts add up to an appalling number of firearm related deaths, many of which could be prevented by banning assault weapons, reducing permissible magazine loads, and requiring safe storage and documentable ownership.

Screening out mentally unstable persons from access to ownership is also entirely appropriate, and in fact has been upheld by the Supreme Court. The Second Amendment was never meant to confer any right to indiscriminate ownership or use.

Mr. Brockway for some reason refers to deaths occurring in urban “war zones” as being “questionable”. What in the world does that mean?

And what is the relevance of opioid-related deaths, DWI deaths, or the Twin Towers? I’m glad not to be blamed (as a physician) for contributing to the opioid epidemic, but I would never take legislation intended to prevent over-prescribing personally.

The fact remains that firearm related deaths can be reduced by sensible legislation; that sanctuaries are for people, not inanimate objects, and that the courts of New York have held that nothing in the SAFE Act is in conflict with the Second Amendment.

It does not impede target practice or traditional hunting. You may not like it, but that’s the way it is. If you don’t like it you could try to overturn it by legal means – Adrian Kuzminski, in a recent piece in this paper, offers the model of appeals to the principle of “Home Rule” – but as a state law it does surely confer an obligation for enforcement, both on the part of county board members and the police, as it stands.

And you don’t need assault weapons – which were not even conceived of by the framers of the Second Amendment – to hunt, target shoot, or protect yourself in your own home. It’s fine that Mr. Brashear and his friends and family wouldn’t want to be around people who don’t respect their firearms, but it should also be a legal obligation to register them, keep them safely away from children and adolescents, and take full responsibility for their use and transfer, which obviously isn’t happening now. What are the objections to that?

MARY ANNE WHELAN, MD
Cooperstown

Petitions Signed By 3,295 Seek Gun Sanctuary

CLICK HERE FOR 2AS STATEMENT

Petitions Signed

By 3,295 Seek

Gun Sanctuary

Chairman Bliss Refers Issue

To Public Safety Committee

County Rep. Rick Brockway, R-West Laurens, reads a statement from Otsego 2AS this morning asking the county board to create a sanctuary from gun laws. At left is county Board Chair Dave Bliss; at right, Vice Chair Meg Kennedy. The meeting was conducted via Zoom.

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – The Otsego 2AS movement arrived this morning in the county Board of Representatives’ chambers.

County Rep. Rick Brockway, R-West Laurens, presented petitions on 2AS’ behalf with 3,295 signatures calling on the county board to declare Otsego County a gun-law sanctuary, where the state’s SAFE Act, consider one of the toughest such laws in the country, would not be enforced.

“To be sure, fighting in support of freedom is never easy,” said Brockway, reading a statement provided by 2AS organizers.  “Yet fighting for freedom has always been the preferred side of history.  Which side you are on will soon be revealed.”

MOSS: Sandy Hook Memories Still Resonate
LETTER from SUSAN MOSS

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.

SUSAN MOSS
Oneonta

BROCKWAY: Guns Park Of Otsego County Heritage

LETTER from RICK BROCKWAY

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

Laurens

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 www.AllOTSEGO.com

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

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

THE GOAL: IGNORE NY ‘SAFE LAW’

Social Media Buoys

Gun Sanctuary Idea

New County Rep Brockway

Finds Proposal Going Viral

By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

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

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

NEW FACES AT 197 MAIN ST.

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
Cummings/AllOTSEGO.com)

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.

By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special To www.AllOTSEGO.com

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.

AFTER ELECTIONS, AMITY

AFTER ELECTIONS, AMITY

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/AllOTSEGO.com)
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/AllOTSEGO.com)

By JIM KEVLIN & LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

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.

CASALE: BROCKWAY TURNS BACK OGDEN

2019 GENERAL ELECTION

CASALE: BROCKWAY

TURNS BACK OGDEN

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

ELECTION EDITORIAL

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).

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To info@allotsego.com

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

EDITORIAL

Democrats

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.

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