At least half of the members of the Oneonta common council are not seeking re-election.
Members Russ Southard, Dana Marie Levinson, Joseph Ficano and Melissa Nicosia told The Daily Star on Monday that they will be leaving their posts this fall. Michele Frazier, David Rissberger and John Rafter confirmed that they will be running for another term. Michelle Osterhoudt could not be reached for comment.
Five additional people have thus far announced their candidacy to The Daily Star.
Several council members cited the time commitments for the post and the length of the term (four years) as reasons not to seek re-election, or a proximity to retirement age.
“I think eight years is enough for me,” said Southard, who represents the Sixth Ward. “It’s been an honor.”
“It’s primarily the time commitment,” said Eighth Ward member Ficano. “It’s such that I’m finding it difficult to do other things in my life.”
Ficano added that he believes council members’ jobs should be slightly less time-consuming as the office of the city manager matures. George Korthauer has held the position for about a year and a half. Two previous managers left city employment after losing the confidence of previous councils since the city manager form of government was approved in 2012.
Council members are paid a $7,000 salary and are required to serve on two committees and one commission. The committees generally meet twice a month.
Members also take on other projects that they are passionate about, such as pursuing clean energy initiatives, which Nicosia spearheaded to have the city designated a Clean Energy Community by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) this winter. Among the actions taken were the streamlining the local approval of solar projects by adopting the New York State Unified Solar Permit, and installation of an electric car charging station.
Former Otsego County Representative Len Carson is throwing his hat in the ring for the Fifth Ward seat being vacated by Levinson, who said she decided not to run for a second term because of increased family obligations.
“Now someone new has to come in, jump in feet first and start all over,” she said. “I was glad to see Len was running. He’s very knowledgeable.”
“I still want to participate in city government and I see the opportunity to do some really cool things,” said Carson, a retired Oneonta Fire Department captain and current Airport Commission member. He said he intends to reveal a platform and hold town hall meetings in the coming months.
Two Democrats and a Republican on a “fusion ticket” have announced their candidacy: Democrat Seth Clark will run for the Second Ward, Democrat Jerid Goss for the Fourth Ward, and Republican Joshua Bailey for the Eighth Ward. Clark works with his father at Peter Clark Student Rentals, where Goss is a sales manager. Josh Bailey is a legislative assistant for state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford.
“We’re trying to come up with some way that the college and the city can work together for a business incubator” to attract the city’s college graduates, Clark said.
Mark Boshnack, a retired Daily Star reporter of 18 years, will run for the Sixth Ward Democratic nomination.
“I’ve always been interested in giving back to the community and being part of it, and I couldn’t get involved in anything political when I worked for the Star,” Boshnack said.
He said he wants to have a say in big decisions coming up in the city, such as an impending proposal from Otsego County Residential Support Services to build housing in his ward, and redevelopment plans for the Oneonta Rail Yards.
Erin Jerome, staff writer, may be reached at (607) 441-7221, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @DS_ErinJ .