Dave Bliss will continue to serve as the chairman of the Otsego County Board of Representatives, and Mount Vision farmer Meg Kennedy has been named to replace Gary Koutnik as vice chair.

The two were elected Thursday, Jan. 2, at the board's monthly meeting at 197 Main St. in Cooperstown, according to county records. 

Bliss, R-Cherry Valley, Middlefield, Roseboom, was the town supervisor in Middlefield for more than two decades. He owns a farm in Middlefield, is the Cooperstown Central School softball coach and also is a real estate agent. He was elected to the county board in 2015.

He replaced Kathy Clark as board chair in 2018, and was unanimously re-elected to the position Thursday, 13-0, with Pete Oberacker, R-Decatur, Maryland, Westford, Worcester, absent.

Kennedy, who runs as a Conservative and caucuses with the Republicans, has represented District 5, Hartwick, Milford, New Lisbon, since she defeated incumbent Ed Lentz in 2015. She became chair of the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee under Clark, and when Bliss became board chair, he also named Kennedy as the chair of the Administration Committee. She joined the budget special committee that year, too, and became its chair a year later. 

Kennedy led the IGA during the two-year period when Otsego County studied the form of government it was using, culminating with the board voting to create a county administrator position in December. Kennedy is also leading the search for a candidate for that position, which is expected to be filled mid-year.

In addition to helping run her family's business, ARK Floral in Mount Vision, Kennedy has also worked to establish the Cooperstown Farmers Market. 

Kennedy got nine votes Thursday. Several Democrats said they supported Kennedy, who is the first woman to be board vice chair in Otsego County government — Clark was Otsego County's first female board chair — and knew she would do a good job.

However, because the two caucuses each have seven board members, they questioned if replacing Koutnik, an Oneonta Democrat, with the board's lone Conservative Party member, was a good idea. 

The question split the Democratic caucus, with Michele Farwell, Butternuts, Morris, Pittsfield, Andrew Stammel, town of Oneonta; and Adrienne Martini, Oneonta, voting for Kennedy. Andrew Marietta, town of Otsego, Danny Lapin, Oneonta, and new members Clark Oliver and Jill Basile, both of Oneonta, voted against Kennedy.

Kennedy and the five GOP members in attendance voted for her. 

Kennedy will continue to chair the same committees, but there were a few changes made in committee leadership positions for 2020, according to county records.

Martini was named to replace Koutnik as chair of the Human Services Committee, and Danny Wilber, R-Burlington, Edmeston, Exeter, Plainfield, will replace Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, as chair as the Public Safety and Legal Affairs Committee.  

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