Democrats retain control of Oneonta Common Council

Julie Lewis | The Daily Star

Election inspector Greg Straut, right, hands a ballot to voter Tom Zinis of Otego in the Otego Municipal Building on state Route 7 on Tuesday.

Democrats kept a firm grip on the Oneonta Common Council in Tuesday’s elections.

The party will control six* of the eight council seats, according to unofficial results posted by the Otsego County Board of Elections. The results do not include absentee or affidavit ballots.

In the Second Ward, Democrat Mark Davies defeated Republican Seth Peter Clark, 205 to 34, to win the seat being vacated by Melissa Nicosia, a Democrat.

“I’m certainly thankful to the voters in the Second Ward for voting, for getting out and I will certainly try to repay their trust in me,” Davies said. “I’m looking forward to getting started.”

Clark said though he didn’t win, he’s confident in the abilities of many of those that did. 

“I think I learned a lot. Some of it was about how to run a campaign some was about who cares about what in Oneonta,” Clark said. “I’ve got to kind of take those lessons in and assimilate them and figure out what I want to do next.”

In the Fourth Ward, Democrat Kaytee Lipari Shue defeated Republican Jerid Goss, 141 to 22, to win the seat currently held by Michelle Osterhoudt, a Democrat.

“I’m really honored and excited to be able to do this,” Lipari Shue said. “It hasn’t even really sunk in that I’m going to be one of eight people to represent the constituents of the city and I’m really grateful for all the support.”

Goss, who said he doesn’t have plans to run for the council again, said he is happy for Lipari Shue. 

“Mostly I just want to congratulate Kaytee,” Goss said. “Oneonta has gained a spirited, smart, driven individual. I’m happy with it. I’m not at all upset.”

In the Fifth Ward, Republican Len Carson flipped a seat for his party, defeating Danielle Tonner, 158 to 114. Carson will replace Democrat Dana Levinson, who did not seek re-election.

“I totally enjoyed going out door-to-door the past two months,” Carson said, adding that he intends to host Fifth Ward meetings every quarter to keep his constituents informed.

“There’s a lot of smart people living in the Fifth Ward, and they had a lot of great suggestions,” he said, including cleaning up Chestnut Street, bringing market-rate housing to the neighborhood and addressing speeding traffic near Greater Plains Elementary School.

Tonner could not be reached for comment.

The Republicans held a seat in the Sixth Ward, where Republican Scott Harrington defeated Democrat Mark Boshnack, a former Daily Star reporter, 147 to 100, to replace retiring Republican Russ Southard.

“I’m ecstatic that I won,” Harrington said, adding that he was “overwhelmed” by the support of the voters. “I tried to hit every door that I could, and talk to everyone I could talk to.”

Harrington said he will continue to follow what’s going on so that he can “hit the ground running” when he takes office in January and will keep his campaign Facebook page updated throughout his term. 

“I’m looking forward to working with everyone,” he said. “Thanks to Mark Boshnack for getting out there and running a fair and honest race.”

“I would like to congratulate my opponent for a good race,” Boshnack said. “I appreciate the support of my neighbors and family, and I hope to stay involved in the city government.”

The final contested race was in the Eighth Ward, where Democrat Mark Drnek defeated Republican Joshua Bailey, 107 to 73, to replace Joseph Ficano, a Democrat, who did not seek re-election.

“I’m definitely excited about working with a new council and the holdovers,” Drnek said. “There’s great things to be done.”

Drnek said he intends to follow through on his campaign promise to keep his constituents apprised of goings-on in the city government by providing digital reports and video clips after each Common Council meeting.

“I want people to have a more informed opinion about the direction of the city,” Drnek said. “I want to have the opportunity to address the issues before they become issues.”

“I had a terrific opponent,” he continued. “Josh Bailey waged a very professional campaign, especially in a Democratic-leaning district. I think that’s somebody people are going to be paying attention to.”

Bailey could not be reached for comment.

In the First Ward, incumbent Democrat Michele Frazier’s name was the only one on the ballot even after she announced she wouldn’t serve another term. Democrat Luke Murphy mounted a write-in campaign for the seat. According to the Otsego County Board of Elections website, Frazier collected 90 votes and 146 write-in votes were recorded. The recipient or recipients of write-in votes were not available Tuesday night.

“No matter what happens, it’s been a great opportunity to speak with the people of Oneonta and talk about their concerns and cares,” Murphy said. “If it turns out to be I’m elected, it’d be the honor of a lifetime, and even if not, it’s an honor to have the opportunity to even run and serve on the city council.”

In uncontested races:

• In the Third Ward, incumbent Democrat David Rissberger was re-elected with 100 votes. He could not be reached for comment before print deadline. 

• In the Seventh Ward, incumbent Democrat John Rafter was re-elected with 81 votes.

Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig, a Democrat, commented on the election results. “I will work with whoever the people elect,” he said. He noted the losses by Tonner and Boshnack, whom he supported, but said he looks forward to working with the new council.

“We are really at a time of opportunity and we cannot let it slip through our fingers,” he said. He said the city has faced “a rough several decades,” and said he wants to work with a “future-oriented council that will embrace the opportunities.”

Staff writers Sarah Eames and Shweta Karikehalli contributed to this report, as did Managing Editor Robert Cairns.

*changed at 7:17 a.m. to correct the number of seats held by Democrats.

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