Floyd "Sam" Dubben Jr., chairman of the Otsego County Board of Representatives, will not seek re-election this year.
"I've been on the board 10 years, and it's been good, but this has been a tough year," Dubben, 66, said Tuesday. "I realize I've gotten to an age where I can't put as much into this job as I want to. And I'm not happy being part of the gas drilling controversy, so enough is enough."
About five years ago, before much was known locally about gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing, Dubben signed a lease on his farm in Middlefield, thinking little would come of it, he said.
A generation earlier, gas prospectors had collected leases on farmland but rarely drilled, as it seemed the gas was too far below ground to extract economically.
Dubben, like others who signed leases about five years ago, expected little would happen during the life of this generation's leases.
In the last few years, however, as drilling and fracking have transformed parts of northern Pennsylvania, the process has become controversial. Many in central New York have split into two camps, pro-drillers who say the extraction process is safe and offers economic benefits, and anti-drillers who say fracking -- the injection of massive amounts of water, sand and chemicals into the ground -- poses a threat to water supplies.
Most residents agree that the heavy traffic that comes with gas drilling will tear up secondary roads, and about half of Otsego County's towns are working with the county on a permit system to control and monitor damage and defray the cost of repair.
Other contentious issues associated with gas drilling have come up at almost every board meeting, and drilling opponents have criticized Dubben's appointment of Rep. James Powers, R-Butternuts, to head the county's Solid Waste & Environmental Concerns Committee, which includes the Natural Gas Advisory Committee.
Powers, a dairy farmer from Butternuts, favors gas drilling and is a member of a land coalition.
In February, Nicole Dillingham, president of the board of Otsego 2000, wrote to Dubben that she believed Powers' appointment created an appearance of a conflict of interest.
Told Tuesday of his decision to retire, Dillingham wrote,"Sam Dubben has served his constituency well over the years, and we wish him well."
Powers said Tuesday that he plans to seek re-election.
"I've been on that board 12 years, saying what I think, and I'd like to continue to do that," he said.
Dubben had back surgery earlier this year and will miss today's meeting while he recovers.
"That's been a bit of a problem, but that's not the reason I've made this decision," he said. "There are things I want to accomplish this year, to move this telecommunications project along as far as we can, and I hope, set our post-MOSA direction. Then I think it's time for someone else to take over."
Dubben said he planned to lead the board's meeting next month.
County Republican Chairwoman Sheila Ross said she will be looking for candidates for Dubben's District Seven seat, which includes the towns of Middlefield, Cherry Valley and Roseboom.
County Democratic Chairman Edward Lentz declined to say whether the party has a candidate in the district, which includes two towns working to ban gas drilling -- MIddlefield and Cherry Valley.
"I can tell you we are talking to several good candidates, and there's interest around the county," Lentz said.
Dubben is the board's third Republican to announce his pending retirement, following statements from Greg Relic, R-Unadilla, and Stephen Fournier, R-Milford. Democrat Cathy Rothenberger of Oneonta has also said she will retire at the end of this year.