Student Government Day

The Cayuga County Legislature hosted Student Government Day in October.

Kevin Rivoli, The Citizen

The Cayuga County Legislature is expected to vote for a new chairman to lead the body in 2018, and there's been some spirited debate about who is best qualified for the job.

Current Chairman Keith Batman has said he's not interested in retaining the post, and while Democrats have a narrow majority on the 15-member body, Democratic Legislator Patrick Mahunik is attempting to get the nod with help from Republican members. But a handful of Democrats are in support of Democratic Legislator Ben Vitale.

It appears one of the chief arguments Vitale backers are making is that Mahunik couldn't possibly have the time to serve as chairman because he works as a school principal in Tompkins County. Mahunik has said he can make it work.

While questions about time commitment are worth asking, we don't see it as a major issue in this case. For starters, both of these men have worked effectively for their constituents, as evidenced by the support they've received from voters in the form of uncontested re-elections last fall.

It's also important to remember that this is 2017. So much work — including communication — can and is done remotely. We don't need a chairman in the county office building all day, every day.

That leads us to another important point: The next chairman needs to be first and foremost a leader of the Legislature. The job of day-to-day leadership of county government as a whole must start with the newly hired county administrator.

With all of that said, what we hope to see this week at the Legislature's organizational meeting is for any chairman candidates to make their case publicly for the job. Explain how they would be best for bringing the full body together to do its work.

And then we hope all of the individual legislators make their decisions based on their own honest opinion, not on the promise of a committee assignment or the input of party bosses.

The Citizen Editorial Board includes publisher Rob Forcey, managing editor Mike Dowd and executive editor Jeremy Boyer.