Seven of the 14 district seats on the Otsego County Board of Representatives are up for grabs Tuesday, giving voters the opportunity to decide if they want to keep Republicans in charge of county government or let Democrats take the helm.
Three current representatives — Rich Murphy, D- town of Oneonta, from District 4; Pauline Koren, R-Milford, from District 5; and Catherine Rothenberger, D-city of Oneonta, from District 12 — have decided to leave the board at year’s end, guaranteeing there will be least three fresh faces on the panel in January.
The county board determines the county’s budget each year and holds the most power of any local government entity in the county. The way it chooses to spend taxpayers’ dollars determines how frequently deputies can patrol local highways, which public works projects are given priority and how much property owners will pay in county taxes.
One of the biggest decisions made by the board in the last two years was its determination that the Otsego Manor nursing home should be sold to a private operator. The Manor, which is expected to be sold in 2014, is slated to receive a county subsidy of more than $4 million in the coming year.
The board is currently made up of seven Republicans and seven Democrats, though the GOP holds power under the system of weighted voting. But Democrats say they’re in good position to seize control of the board once the votes are tallied Tuesday night. Republicans are equally optimistic the results will favor their candidates.
The Democratic game plan calls for a victory in the district with the most weighted votes in the county — District 5, which covers Milford, Hartwick and New Lisbon. The Democratic candidate, Edward Lentz of New Lisbon, is a patent attorney, farmer and gun-rights advocate. He faces Republican Jamie Waters of Milford, a general contractor who helps lead the annual Goodyear Lake Polar Bear Jump charity event.