by Carol Thompson
Who will lead the Oswego County Legislature next year will be decided in the upcoming weeks. The leadership will deal with one of the most difficult budget years in almost a decade.
Legislature Chairman Fred Beardsley faces a challenge from Legislator Linda Lockwood for the top position. Each candidate was asked a series of questions.
When asked what the first priority will be, Beardsley said the office of chairman does not allow time for a single priority.
“There tends to be a number of issues at any given time,” said Beardsley. “The issues at the forefront right now are the asbestos abatement at DSS, the negotiations with Entergy, contract negotiations with our unions, reapportionment and a day-to-day assessment of our financial situation.”
Lockwood responded, “First priority, pick committees, work with department heads and start working on strategies for next years budget.”
There has been discussion in regard to closing the county’s transfer stations. When asked if this measure would be supported, Lockwood said, “The solid waste department was to be self sustaining. The way the economy is, it is difficult to maintain these transfer stations. The subject will be given much thought and I am hoping an equitable solution can be made.”
Beardsley responded, “Due to continuing mandate increases our county, like many others, faces financial difficulties in 2014 and beyond. We must asses our business model in its entirety on a regular basis. All aspects, including but not limited to solid waste, must be reviewed to insure they operate in the best interest of the taxpayer.”
The minority legislators have long complained that they have been left out of important decision making and Beardsley has been working with the Democrats to ensure they are apprised of all issues.
He said if re-elected, he will continue to work with the Democrats.
“In the first paragraph of my State of the County Address I stated ‘a chairman must preside fairly over the discussions on this floor, and who treats all elected representatives equitably, listening to your concerns and ideas, and fostering cooperation to reach goals that are in the best interest of our residents, taxpayers, and businesses. I pledge to you that is the type of Chairman I will be’,” he said. “I believe I have kept that pledge in 2012 and intend to keep it if re-elected as chairman.”
Lockwood said she has no problem working with the minority. “I have worked on committees with many of the minority members. I have always respected their opinions. I am sure there will be many opportunities for us to work together.”
The chairman is elected by the legislature, however, Beardsley and Lockwood were asked what they would say to the taxpayers if they had a vote.