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Local News

December 22, 2010

3 Republicans will vie for county chair

Three Republicans are seeking to chair the Otsego County Board of Representatives in 2011, and they all know the job well, each having served in the position previously.

Rep. Sam Dubben, R-Middlefield, said he has enjoyed leading the board in 2010 and would like another term.

"I think we made some progress this year, and I'd like to continue," he said Tuesday.

Dubben said he has enjoyed working with county Treasurer Daniel Crowell and believes department heads are doing a good job, making sure the county runs smoothly.

"I know we had some trouble with the budget, and I wish we hadn't had to lay anyone off," he said. "That's a hard one for me, but you have to try to remember the taxpayers that are footing the bill."

Dubben, 66, is completing his first year at the helm, having succeeded Rep. James Powers, R-Butternuts, last January.

Powers, who served two years as chairman, said he would like another term to help the county exit from the Montgomery-Otsego-Schoharie Solid Waste Management Authority and complete its emergency telecommunications project.

"I think the chairman is in a good position because you have influence, and you can get things done," he said.

If elected chairman, he said he will work to help the county set up its own transfer station with provisions for composting and removing electronic garbage from the waste stream.

Powers, 57, was elected the board's chairman in 2008 and 2009, succeeding Rep. Donald Lindberg, R-Worcester, another member who said he'd like to take the gavel.

"Am I running? Sure, I'm running," Lindberg said Monday. "I'm running because I think next year the finances are going to be worse than this year, and we can't wait until fall to deal with it."

In 2010, when it appeared the county tax levy might rise sharply unless expenses were cut, Dubben appointed Lindberg to chair an ad hoc budget committee. By going over the numbers line by line, Lindberg saw worrisome trends, he said.

"We can't afford to grow when everyone else is forced to get by with less," he said.

Rep. James Johnson, R-Otsego, the board's vice chairman, said the Republicans will caucus soon and try to line up behind one candidate.

"We're lucky to have three qualified people who want the job," he said.

Eight of the board's 14 members are Republican; five are Democrats; and one, Stephen Fournier of Milford, is technically a Republican but has announced his intention of leaving the party and becoming a Conservative.

Fournier said he is supporting Dubben.

"I was joking around with Sam and told him he's the lesser of three evils," Fournier said Tuesday.

Rep. Linda Rowinski, D-Oneonta, said she, too, will support Dubben.

"I think Sam has been very supportive and understanding, and it's good to have some continuity on the board," she said. "We have qualified members; Rich Murphy is highly qualified, but I'll be voting for Sam in January."

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