COOPERSTOWN _ Republican Donald Lindberg of Worcester says he does not want to chair the Otsego County Board of Representatives next year.
``I've done it for two years, and I'm proud of what we've accomplished, but I think it's time for someone else to have a turn,'' Lindberg, 48, said Friday morning.
``Realistically, I probably wouldn't be re-elected,'' he said. ``I'm a Republican, but I've worked with the Democrats and I'm not ashamed of that. As far as I'm concerned, the county comes first and the party comes second.''
After the first of the year, he's ready to return to his desk at the back of the room, Lindberg said.
``And I want to say this,'' he added. ``I'm ready to work with whoever the new chair is.''
For the past two years, Lindberg has been a compromise choice as the leader of a board split seven-seven between Democrats and Republicans. Most of his support has come from Democrats, who have appreciated his willingness to cross the political divide.
Republican candidates to lead the board include Rep. James Powers, R-Butternuts, or Rep. Greg Relic, R-Unadilla. And after the GOP's lopsided victory in the Nov. 6 election, there is no need for a compromise choice, according to Rep. Betty Anne Schwerd, R-Burlington.
``I think it's obvious that Jim and Greg are the best choices to lead the board,'' she said. ``They have the most experience, and with so many new and nearly new members, we need an experienced leader.''
And a Republican, she added.
On Jan. 2, the board that takes office will comprise 10 Republicans and four Democrats.
In terms of weighted votes, this translates into 4,669 votes for the Republicans; 1,498 for the Democrats.
Powers, 54, a dairy farmer who is about to begin his ninth year on the board, said Friday, ``I'd love to chair the board.
``I think the voters spoke pretty clearly this week; they want simple, effective government,'' he said. ``They want the roads taken care of, reasonable services, the bad guys locked up and taxes held down, and that's what we're going to try to deliver.''
Voters are tired of bickering and infighting, said Powers, who predicted the board will be more harmonious next year.
A fiscal conservative, Powers ran unopposed for re-election this year. He's a former chairman of the county's Solid Waste, Highway and Forestry, Personnel, and Negotiations committees and one of two representatives who voted against the 2007 budget, which initially raised the tax levy about 22 percent.
The other vote against that budget was cast by Relic, 59, who will begin his seventh year on the board in January.
``I have considered chairing the board,'' he said Friday. ``I think we need a change. After the year we've had, we need a new start, but I think Mr. Powers would be a good choice, also.''
One of the most important assignments a new chairman will have is the appointment of committee chairmen and members, said Relic, who has chaired the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, chairs the Solid Waste Committee and is the only Republican on the powerful Administration Committee.
``We want to use people's strengths, put them where they can do the most for the county,'' he said.
Relic said he was pleased with the election's result with one exception: ``I think it's too bad Hugh Henderson lost,'' he said. ``He's been on the board a long time and we've come to rely on his experience.''
Henderson, 70, who has represented the town of Oneonta for 24 years, was defeated by Democrat Richard Murphy, 58.
Democrat Cathy Rothenberger, who is about to begin her 15th year representing the city of Oneonta on the board, said, ``I'd like to chair the board and I think I'd do a good job, but I have to say my phone isn't ringing.''
Rothenberger, 51, who chairs the county's Human Services Committee, spoke highly of the leadership skills of Rep. Marti Stayton, D-Oneonta, who is about to begin her second year on the board.
``I think Marti is amazing,'' she said, but no Democrat has a realistic chance to lead the board next year.
``The board is back to 10-4; I think that's where it was when I was first elected,'' she said. ``But I've never felt that I owed my vote to a party; I work with whoever's on the board and we do the best we can for the county.''
The board's chairman currently is paid about $19,000 a year.
``And that's not a lot of money if you're doing the job right,'' Lindberg said.