COOPERSTOWN — The Otsego County Board of Representatives approved a resolution Wednesday, Oct. 2, asking "the New York state parole board to deny the parole for David Dart, the convicted murdered of Milford resident Gillian Gibbons."
The resolution also supports bill 4354, co-sponsored by state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, to allow the parole board to decide to hold hearings every five years, rather than every two years, for certain violent offenders.
The resolution passed by weighted vote, 5,541 to 338.
The resolution was brought from the floor, without going through committee — an unusual procedure — by Rep. Dan Wilber, R-Burlington, Edmeston, Exeter, Plainfield, who said he regretted the late resolution. Dart's hearing is scheduled for November. Because of the method, the resolution needed two-thirds of the weighted vote to pass.
Only Rep. Liz Shannon, D-Oneonta, voted against it. She said she wished Wilber had made two resolutions, because she supported Seward's bill, but she did not feel comfortable with the legislature weighing in on parole board decisions.
Vice Chair Gary Koutnik, D-Oneonta, abstained, because he said he felt unprepared to weigh in on such an important issue with little notice.
According to Daily Star records, Gibbons, 18, was abducted by Dart from an Oneonta parking garage and killed by stabbing on Sept. 12, 1989. Dart is serving a 25-year sentence, but Wilber said Gibbon's family and friends have been grieving through repeated parole hearings this decade, unable to find peace as the issue of parole keeps coming up.
Rep. Meg Kennedy, C-Hartwick, Milford, New Lisbon, said the issue hit home for her. She had returned home from college in 1989, and regularly attended a farmers' market that was on a different level of the garage.
"It did make an impact on me," she said. "I remember there was not a question of guilt, and zero remorse."
Details about the late resolution took the board's October meeting to just shy of the four-hour mark. The board also got lengthy face time Wednesday with two of its own elected officials, Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck; and Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield.
Delgado said Otsego County is about two and a half hours from his Dutchess County home, but he loves visiting because he has been building relationships in the area. He said his district is the eighth-most-rural in the country, and third-most represented by a Democrat, so he is happy he gets to serve on the Agriculture Committee.
Delgado talked about the need for rural broadband as one of his top priorities, and he agreed when one of the county representatives said rural cell phone service is also crucial. He also spoke about the opioid epidemic, stressing the need for treating addiction as a disease.
Salka talked about unfunded mandates, bills he thought were rushed through last session with unintended consequences and a looming debt crisis he said is going to hurt the state. He asked the board for input on new laws, and left with several ideas he said he was eager to present to his partners in Albany.
He and the board members discussed recent bail and legal reforms in depth, with Kennedy stressing to him that the costs are coming in much higher than anyone anticipated, and were, at best, partially funded to begin with.
Salka also agreed with Rep. Andrew Marietta, D-Otsego, that paper bag fees should be used to offset high recycling costs.
Salka and Delgado both stressed their ability to work in a bipartisan manner. Salka said a group of younger, downstate Democrats have come into the Assembly with a good attitude about changing the system, and have been receptive to upstate concerns and partners. Delgado touted his legislation, including a farm bills signed by President Donald Trump.
Board Chair Dave Bliss, R-Cherry Valley, Middlefield, Roseboom, said he believes the county and the other elected officials are doing a good job of working together, and he welcomes their visits. Last month, the board heard a similar presentation from Seward.