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Scott Harrington

What To Swear-On On? Bible? Constitution?

What To Swear-In On?

Bible? Constitution?

Common Council member Mark Drnek takes oath. Wife Betsy Holland holds Bible. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA — The traditional swearing-ins were Wednesday, Jan. 1, in Common Council chambers, but swearing-in with a hand on the Bible was one tradition that may be waning.

When each of the nine candidates approached the podium, City Judge Lucy Bernier asked them if they would like to place their hand on the Bible, or on the U.S. Constitution.

Three of the nine – seven Council members and two county reps – chose the Constitution.

“I figure upholding a political office and upholding the law of the United States, which is the Constitution, relates more to my job politically than the Bible does,” said Jill Basile, sworn in as the city’s District 14 county board representative.“I understand and value the tradition of swearing on the Bible, but I also understand and value that people are different, religions are different, and being able to make a choice is powerful.”

Basile hopes others feel the same. “I think that folks should embrace differences and someone swearing-in on a Constitution shouldn’t affect how people perceive them doing their job as an elected official,” she said.

Council member John Rafter, Seventh Ward, who also swore on the Constitution, insisted “people can use anything to swear on. They don’t have to choose between two. It’s simply a swearing-in, and where my hand is is irrelevant. I can swear on ‘Finnegan’s Wake’” – the James Joyce classic – “if I want, because I believe in it very strongly.”

Sixth Ward Council member Scott Harrington, however, chose the Bible out of habit. “I didn’t give it a thought,” he said. “I think it’s both tradition and my personal belief. Like when I got married. You make the promise. When I make that promise I’m answering to honesty and integrity.”

And there’s family heritage . “When my dad took the oath of office, he got sworn in on the Bible,” he said. “Maybe it’s just my upbringing.”

The most youthful member of the county board, Clark Oliver, made a stand for tradition “mostly out of respect for my family. I was raised Christian and I’m currently a member at the First Presbyterian Church in Oneonta,” he said. “I recognize that there’s a separation of church and state and totally respect my colleagues. It was a personal choice. I think it’s a choice that every official should be able to make,” he said.

But according to Otsego County Judge Brian D. Burns, swearing-in on the Constitution is relatively new.
“I’ve personally never seen anyone swear-in on the Constitution,” he said. “From my experience, that’s new.” In 20 years administering oaths of office in Cooperstown, everyone’s sworn on the Bible.

From a legal standpoint, however, signing a state-required form, not the oath, affirms elected officials’ status. “Each public official has to sign a sworn oath and that’s the action that really counts,” he said.

Historically, at least three presidents did not use the Bible for their oath of office. John Quincy Adams and Franklin Pierce both used a book of law and Theodore Roosevelt raised his right hand in place of a text.

“There is no issue about putting your hand on the Bible or the Constitution or the
Koran,” said Council member David Rissberger, Third Ward. “When you are sworn into the office you are promising to the people that elected you that you will uphold the constitution and do the best job possible. When you put your hand on something you are saying that this what you believe in. I swore on the Bible, but I would feel just as comfortable swearing on the Constitution.”

And Mayor Gary Herzig echoed this perspective.

“There is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years, but it’s not a requirement,” he said. “We have people serving office of many different religions and some who don’t follow any religion, so for that reason we are not going to tell people that their only option is to put a hand on the Bible.”

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.

Carson, Harrington Win Common Council Seats

2019 GENERAL ELECTION

Carson, Harrington Win

Common Council Seats

Shue, Drnek, Davies Also Join Board

Dick Breuninger, left, examines the election result tallies alongside Scott Harrington, who won his race for the Sixth Ward, Council member Dave Rissberger, Third Ward, and Len Carson, who won the Fifth Ward seat, at Foothills as the polls closed at 9 p.m. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – Republicans have doubled their Common Council seats on Oneonta’s Common Council with wins by Len Carson, Fifth Ward, and Scott Harrington, Sixth Ward.

Carson defeated Democratic challenger Danielle Tonner 157-112; Harrington handily held back democrat Mark Boshnak 146-96.

SHUE: Scott Harrington Has Roots In Sixth Ward Politics
LETTER from BILL SHUE

Scott Harrington Has Roots

In Sixth Ward Politics

To the Editor:

I have known Scott Harrington since he was a boy.  Now he is a responsible husband and father. He was raised by two hardworking people, Stan and Mary Jane Harrington.  Scott saw first-hand the ideals of true volunteerism and dedication to the task at hand.

Unfortunately, Stan, a county representative for Wards 5-6, passed away at a fairly young age.  Both he and Mary Jane Harrington gave to Scott a love for the Sixth Ward and dedication to perseverance.  I know this full well.

I am writing to all registered voters of the Sixth Ward and asking each one to vote for Scott Harrington as their next Sixth Ward representative on Oneonta Common Council.

Scott sees the needs of the Sixth Ward and the City of Oneonta.  His dedication to “sticking with it” will be a huge asset on the City Council.

Scott’s experiences have prepared him well to sit on the Common Council and make wise decisions. He is a former county representative, is a member of the city’s Zoning & Housing Board of Appeals, has nearly 20 years of public safety experience, and is facilities liaison at Hartwick College.

Scott Harrington has the ability and know-how to make people’s opinion count.  Scott values people no matter how rich or poor you are, or how long you have been in the Sixth Ward.  You can be assured he will represent you well, no matter what political party you align with.

Scott’s stated goals during this campaign reflect the concerns of those in the Sixth Ward, which shows that he will not be manipulated by those with a hidden agenda outside the Sixth Ward and outside the City of Oneonta.  Scott has goals that have been publicly stated in regard to public safety, economic development, business growth, infrastructure, town hall meetings in the Sixth Ward, working with our two colleges, working with our YMCA in regard to programs for youth, and gaining revenue for the City of Oneonta without placing the burden on property owners.

Scott is very proud of businesses in our ward and aims to keep them here. Their stability and growth is of great importance to him.  Improving the housing stock already in existence within the ward is a priority for him. He also aims to spearhead an effort to beautify entrances to the Sixth Ward.

Scott Harrington is solid and has the ability to stand up for what is right. He possesses a kind heart and is able to work cooperatively for the general good. Your vote for Scott Harrington will enable a good person to sit in the Sixth Ward seat at City Hall and represent you.  Please vote for Scott Harrington on Nov. 5.

WILLIAM SHUE

Former Sixth Ward Common Councilmember

Oneonta

FALIN: Harrington Has 6th Ward Spirit Elect Him To Common Council
LETTER from ELLEN FALIN

Harrington Has 6th Ward Spirit

Elect Him To Common Council

To the Editor:

Residents of Oneonta’s Sixth Ward are fortunate to have Scott Harrington as a candidate for Common Council.

Scott grew up in the Sixth Ward. He knows our history and concerns because he has experienced them first hand. He has that genuine Sixth Ward spirit that can’t be faked.

He’s willing to reach across party lines, look for commonsense answers, and most importantly, set aside his personal agenda to faithfully represent the people who elect him.

He is a potentially powerful new voice in Oneonta city government. Let’s give him that chance!

Scott Harrington is right for the Sixth Ward and right for Oneonta.

ELLEN FALIN

Oneonta

Herzig To Salka: Help Upstate Cities

TOWN HALL IN ONEONTA

Herzig To Salka:

Help Upstate Cities

Assemblyman John Salka, R-121, fields a questions from the audience as part of a Town Hall held tonight in Council Chambers. (Jennifer Hill/AllOTSEGO.com)

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to ALLOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – Ask and you may receive.

“Cities like mine have maintained taxes at the state-mandated cap of two percent – even at zero percent, but  state aid to municipalities have not increased in 10 years,” said Mayor Gary Herzig during a Town Hall with Oneonta’s Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield, in Council chambers this evening. “Why won’t the legislature not step up to and provide aid to cities who are fighting to renew their infrastructure, economic development, maintain services, attract new people and prevent people from leaving?”

Salka began his answer suggesting the lack of state aid increases to cities was because the legislature was controlled by “downstate interests,” legislators did not understand what Upstate New York needed, and the governor thought “there were too many towns and cities” and “wanted things big.”

2nd County Rep Runs For Common Council

2nd County Rep Runs

For Common Council

Scott Harrington Announces In 6th Ward

By JENNIFER HILL  • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Scott Harrington will run for Common Council’s Ward 6 seat after Russell Southard decided not to seek re-election.

ONEONTA – Another former Otsego county rep, Scott Harrington, is running for Common Council in November.

He will seek the Sixth Ward seat, which Council member and Deputy Mayor Russell Southard has held for two terms.

Yesterday, Len Carso announced he would run for the Ward 5 seat, which Council member Dana Levinson is vacating at the end of the year.

Five of the Council’s eight members, all of whose terms are ending this year, are not seeking re-election. Earlier today, Mayor Gary Herzig said he didn’t know why so many of the current office holders decided not to run again.  Carson and Harrington are the only two Council candidates so far.

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