I was interested to read an article in this paper last week regarding several legislators who have announced their intention to seek the Cayuga County Legislature Chair seat for 2018. November’s election resulted in a narrow majority for the Democrats on the Legislature and it appears that the current chair has challengers from his own party, leaving the possibility that a Republican legislator, even as a member of the minority party, has a legitimate chance to win the leadership post.
Anyone who has followed the proceedings of the Legislature over the years should know that it has not been uncommon for leadership votes to be determined by allegiances other than party loyalty. The difference now is that it’s the Democrats, just two years after gaining the majority following decades of Republican control, who are allowing internal divisions to provide an opening for the minority party.
While the politics of the vote are intriguing, the more important question is: “Who will be leading the county?” Since adding the position of county administrator to the payroll over a decade ago, we now have an appointed professional in place to oversee the day-to-day operations of the county. However, that position has been a revolving door; I believe the most recent appointee is the fifth person to hold the position in the last 10 years. There’s no doubt that our new county administrator is well qualified, but that does not replace the need for a strong chairperson who is engaged, present and unlike the administrator, ultimately answers directly to the voters of the county.
That is why I was surprised to read that one of the candidates for the chair post is employed as a public-school administrator. How could this person possibly fulfill the requirements of the chair, who is expected to attend to county business during the workday when department heads and staff members are at their offices, while simultaneously satisfying the responsibilities of a high school principal at a school located an hour’s drive from the Cayua County Office Building?
The taxpayers of Cayuga County are less concerned with the party affiliation of our next chairperson and more concerned that he or she will have the time, experience and the leadership skills to work with our new county administrator to improve the quality of the essential services the county provides and to ensure that our tax dollars are spent wisely.