Cayuga Legislature Reorganization meeting

The members of the Cayuga County Legislature pose for their official 2019 group photo at the body's yearly reorganization meeting Jan. 3.

The Cayuga County Legislature kicked off 2019 on a positive note last week, with Democrats and Republicans vowing to work together in a spirit of cooperation. We hope to see that enthusiasm carry over into the coming months and become the impetus for positive accomplishments.

In unanimously supporting Sterling Republican Tucker Whitman as chairman, legislators showed that they can put party politics aside, and we hope Whitman will be able to set a tone this year that helps members avoid forming entrenched alliances — party or otherwise — that can stand in the way of progress.

For his part, Whitman said he wants to continue working on the evolving structure of the highway department as it becomes part of a larger administrative unit that will include parks and trails, buildings and grounds, and other departments. He also wants to move forward on a long-term capital investment plan and make sure the county is taking the right steps regarding the protection of water quality.

Whitman also said he wants to take a look at redistricting, a process that we believe needs to be addressed. Cayuga County currently operates under a weighted voting system, in which a legislator's vote is assigned a value relative to the population of their district. That leads to cases of resolutions sometimes unfairly being passed by a minority of legislators in control of a majority of weighted votes.

The Legislature agreed last August to explore the formation of an independent commission to investigate reshaping legislative districts, but we've heard little since that time about any progress.

We also hope this year that a cooperative Legislature will agree to work in tandem with the county administrator's office, because we continued to see in 2018 some efforts by legislators to micromanage the day-to-day operations of county government rather than allow the administrator to do his job.

If legislators truly get behind Whitman this year and follow his lead, avoid internal squabbling, and commit to working cooperatively with the county administrator, this Legislature has the potential to achieve some concrete results on behalf of the taxpayers.

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

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