COOPERSTOWN — Otsego County GOP officials are backing veteran Oneonta Town Board Member Janet Hurley-Quackenbush in her quest to win the county Board of Representatives seat being vacated at year’s end by Rep. Rich Murphy, D-town of Oneonta.
Meanwhile, in the city of Oneonta, Democrat Amy Hornburg Heilveil picked up the support of her party as she announced she is running for the District 12 seat being vacated by Rep. Catherine Rothenberger, D-Oneonta.
In the town, with Murphy already endorsing political newcomer Dan Buttermann, 29, the contest for the District 4 seat is expected to be one that gets heavy emphasis from both parties in the ongoing tug-of-war for control of county government.
Otsego County GOP Chairwoman Sheila Ross said she believes Hurley-Quackenbush’s 14 years of experience as a town board member will give her an edge over Buttermann, who has not held any public office.
“I don’t know anything about him, and from what I hear it doesn’t seem like he is going to stay in this area that long,” said Ross.
A graduate of the State University College of Oneonta, Hurley-Quackenbush has held the position of director of operations at Foothills Performing Arts and Civic Center in Oneonta since 2009. She was first elected to the town board in 1999. She and her husband, Mark, live in West Oneonta with their two daughters.
As a town board member, she has twice supported a moratorium against hydraulic fracturing for shale gas.
“I’m a logical thinker and a problem solver, and I want what’s best for our greater Oneonta area,” she said in an interview.
In the election for the seat now held by Rothenberger, Hornburg Heilveil is the only announced candidate, even though there will be no incumbent in the race.
Hornburg Heilveil, 43, said she is currently a waitress at the Depot restaurant. She said she has held a variety of jobs, including serving as the program coordinator for the Local Government Information and Education Network of the University of Illinois.
In that position, she said, she coordinated programming for local government officials and helped produce a newsletter that dealt with such topics as budgetary constraints and unfunded government mandates.
She said she and her husband, Jeffrey Heilveil, a State University College at Oneonta professor, moved to Oneonta from North Carolina in 2007. The couple and their 7-year old daughter reside on lower East Street in Oneonta, in a neighborhood she noted has a heavy student population.
Asked why she wants to serve on the county board, Hornburg Heilveil said: “All of the levels of local government are important, and knowing there was going to be a definite opening on the county board, I thought it would be a good time to step up.”
She noted she is opposed to hydraulic fracturing, and pointed out that she is interested in a wide spectrum of issues, such as ensuring that the county’s emergency communications system delivers rapid response times when the public needs the services of first responders.
No Republican candidate has emerged for the district, which has a heavy Democratic voter enrollment.