Delaware board chair reappointed despite dissent

Sarah Eames | The Daily Star Bovina Town Supervisor Tina Molé is sworn in Wednesday for a third term as chair of the Delaware County Board of Supervisors by County Clerk Deb Goodrich, who administered the oath of office while Board Clerk Christa Schafer held the Bible.

DELHI — For the first time in at least two decades, the Delaware County Board of Supervisors was not unanimous in appointing a chairman.

Bovina Town Supervisor Tina Molé was reappointed for a third term as board chair by a measure of 4,537 weighted votes to 262, with Hamden Town Supervisor Wayne Marshfield and Andes Town Supervisor Wayland Gladstone voting in opposition.

“In my 26 years on the board, this is the first time protocol wasn’t followed as recommended by the Republican caucus,” Marshfield said.

Marshfield, a Democrat, was nominated to the position by Gladstone, who described him as “an honest, capable man.”

The nomination was seconded by Davenport Town Supervisor Dennis Valente, who still cast his vote for Molé.

“I’m one of five Democrats on the committee, and if two of the Democrats wanted to see a Democratic candidate out there, I’d give him his chance,” Valente said after the meeting. “If he wants a shot at it, give him a shot.”

“I think Tina’s done a fantastic job, and I think she’s getting better at it,” he continued.

Marshfield said he pursued the nomination in order to “gain back the trust and confidence of our taxpayers,” adding that he would have “vowed to be more transparent” had he been appointed.

“We’re too poor as a county to allow taxpayer funds to be spent frivolously,” he said.

“Of course it didn’t work out because it’s all political,” Marshfield said of his failed bid for the chairmanship. “Part of the goal was to make a statement. Our county has been torn apart this past year, and we need to come back together as one.”

Marshfield said he also hoped to “regain a working relationship” with local media outlets.

“They’re the conveyors of our local issues,” he said. “They’re vital to our residents and our community.”

Marshfield and Gladstone were also the only two supervisors to oppose the reappointment of Amy Merklen as county attorney, whose nomination was still approved by a majority vote.

After taking the oath of office, Molé commended the work of her colleagues and fellow county employees.

“2019 was a successful year for Delaware County,” she said. “The goals this board set out to do last January have been met,” including the establishment of a public defender’s office.

“2020, in Delaware County, is bright,” Molé continued, noting the county’s plans to break ground on the new mental health facility in Walton and settle on a location for the county highway facility.

This year will also see the relocation of the county board of elections and veterans’ service agency, Molé said.

Among the proposed locations was 97 Main St. in Delhi, in which the county has rented space for the Office for the Aging since 2017. An anonymous source confirmed to The Daily Star that plans to purchase the site were discussed in an executive session at Wednesday’s meeting, but no decision was made.

Delhi Town Supervisor Mark Tuthill was unanimously reappointed vice-chair of the board, and Colchester Town Supervisor Art Merrill was unanimously reappointed county budget officer.

Board Clerk Christa Schafer was nominated for reappointment by Harpersfield Town Supervisor James Eisel and unanimously approved by the board.

“She just does an outstanding job for all of us,” Eisel said. “We couldn’t do this without her.”

Deputy Social Services Commissioner Sylvia Armano was formally appointed to lead the department after serving more than six months as acting commissioner in the absence of Dana Scuderi-Hunter, who was placed on paid administrative leave in July and fired by the board in December.

“Sylvia’s done a splendid job,” said Marshfield, who serves as chair of the social services committee. “Our committee thought nobody could top that.”

The board passed a resolution in memory of Michael Spaccaforno, who served as Masonville town supervisor from 2012 until shortly before his death in December.

Masonville Town Supervisor Betty Scott said she first met her predecessor more than a decade ago, when both were running for seats on the Masonville Town Board.

“Mike had a colorful way of talking,” Scott said. “He had a definite opinion on things and how things should be done, and he was a man who could get those things done.”

“I knew Mike long before I was lucky enough to get to work with him,” Molé said. “He was just a special person. We certainly will miss him.”

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.

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