OSWEGO — The Oswego County Legislature Thursday will hold its first meeting of 2018, with the body set to appoint various department heads, swear in five new legislators and choose leadership for the coming year.
With former Chairman Kevin Gardner assuming his role of county treasurer this week, legislators will have to choose a new chairman Thursday. All signs point to current Majority Leader Shane Broadwell, R-Oswego, being Gardner’s successor, as multiple officials have said the Republican caucus plans to support Broadwell for the role.
In November, Broadwell announced his intention to seek the position of chairman. At the same time, Legislator Terry Wilbur, R-Hannibal — a former vice chairman and majority leader — said he would look to be named chairman as well.
In an interview Tuesday, however, Wilbur indicated he is no long seeking a leadership position. Wilbur said he had no issue with Broadwell becoming the next legislature chairman, adding he would nominate Broadwell for the position.
Gardner, who has been chairman since May 2013, said Broadwell is an excellent candidate for the position, and the two have worked closely over the last several years.
“I feel that he is more than qualified to handle the job and will do a great job as chairman of the legislature,” Gardner said.
As far as advice for the next chairman, Gardner said “question everything” and “don’t ever take anything for granted.” Most importantly, Gardner said the chairman has to ensure legislators work together as a whole regardless of political affiliations and beliefs.
“You have to work together for the good of the county and the good of the constituency,” Gardner said. “No matter what side anyone is on, you have to try to come to an agreement and get things done.”
Broadwell could not be reached for comment before press time Tuesday, but in November he said after serving as the county’s majority leader the role of chairman is an obvious next step.
There are “so many positive things going on all throughout the county,” Broadwell said at the time, saying his communication skills and an ability to work with legislators across the political spectrum and develop relationships with public and private partners could help move the county forward.
Minority Leader Frank Castiglia, D-Fulton, said Democrats in the legislature would “wholeheartedly not support” Broadwell or anybody put forward by the Republicans for the role. Castiglia said unlike last year, the Minority Caucus would make its own nomination for the position.
“We don’t know who yet,” Castiglia said. “We’re not going to caucus until Thursday just before the meeting.”
Castiglia said as far as he knows the Democrats plan to elect him to lead the party in the legislature again in 2018.
Castiglia said hopefully the new chairman, whoever it may be, would continue Gardner’s practice of granting members of the Minority Caucus their requested committee assignments. He said past leadership followed through with the requests in a bipartisan manner, and he’s looking for that to continue.
Legislators will vote to appoint 11 individuals to head various county departments, including county administrator.
County Administrator Phil Church, who’s been in the position since June 2007, said he’ll be seeking the position again in 2018.
Castiglia said “there’s nothing else that’s controversial” in regards to the appointments, but did say he wouldn’t support the appointment of a director of facilities and technology because he didn’t agree with the way the county combined the two departments.
The five new legislators being sworn in Thursday are Bradley Trudell, R-Mexico, Mary Chesbro, R-Volney , Patrick Twiss, R-New Haven, and Nathan Emmons, R-Oswego.