To three longtime public servants who recently announced their decisions to leave their posts.
Explaining his decision to not seek re-election after this term, Otsego County Representative Rich Murphy, D-town of Oneonta, said, “It’s simply time for me to do some other things in my life at this point.”
Murphy, 63, is a retired speech pathologist and a 27-year volunteer coach for Oneonta Little League.
As a candidate, Murphy’s measured speech and even manner gave us the impression of an intelligent and thoughtful man. His easy victories suggest the voters agreed.
As a legislator, Murphy has surpassed our high expectations when we endorsed him. In his relatively short stint on the county board (six years), he was named to two key leadership positions and made a name for himself as a thoughtful and engaged legislator.
Rep. James Powers, R-Butternuts, who did not always see eye-to-eye with Murphy, nevertheless said he respected the Oneonta Democrat.
“Rich Murphy is a very good guy to work with,” said Powers. “He cares about people and he cares about the county.”
Murphy has not ruled out the possibility of future public service. Wherever he decides to apply his considerable talents, we know they will be welcomed.
Oneonta City Clerk Jim Koury will leave behind a twofold legacy in Oneonta: one as a committed public servant, and one as a passionate gay rights advocate.
Those two roles dovetailed memorably for Koury on July 24, 2011, when he opened his office on a Sunday to issue marriage licenses to gay couples the day the state Marriage Equality Law went into effect.
“It was a great day,” he said. “I was glad to be part of it.”
We’re glad, too, to have had Koury in City Hall for these 20-plus years for both these roles. And we wish him nothing but the best as he puts his focus on Diversity Rules, a local magazine he founded dedicated to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.
As Otsego County Economic Developer Carolyn Lewis leaves her position, one of the most exciting projects she worked on over the last decade is just coming to fruition.
Under Lewis’ tenure, the former Bresee’s Department Store has been transformed from a vacant eyesore to a busy construction site.
Lewis also played matchmaker for a couple of unconventional Oneonta properties, helping the high-tech manufacturer Ioxus settle into the former National Soccer Hall of Fame campus, and facilitating Springbrook’s expansion into the former St. Mary’s School building.
Lewis, who said she is stepping down to spend more time with her family, leaves behind a county that is still facing some economic challenges. But we believe she’s left the county in better shape than she found it. As Otsego County Rep. Betty Anne Schwerd, R-Burlington, put it, “We are going to have some pretty big shoes to fill here.”