Valley Viewpoints: Changing the culture

by Michael C. Backus, Oswego County Clerk-elect

There was little doubt in my mind that come Jan. 1 I would face many challenges as the newly elected Oswego County clerk. Anytime any institution transitions from long-time established leadership to a new administration there will be a lot of discussion regarding the best path forward.

I am thankful to everyone who has reached out to give their input regarding the office. This newspaper in particular has been very vigilant in its monitoring of the office and through its reporting clearly has “its” own opinion.

One thing that I greatly appreciated on the campaign trail was the opportunity to share ideas with Phil Vasho. Since the election, I have greatly appreciated my former opponent’s willingness to set the election aside and help get this office back to business.

We have shared some great ideas and frankly have agreed on many ways forward for the office. I have invited him to regularly stop by the office and I hope to keep up the conversation in the days, months, and years to come.

When George Williams, our former county clerk, passed away the office was thrust upon the shoulders of Deputy Clerk Georgiana Mansfield who has, since George’s passing, served as acting clerk. That is not an easy task for anyone.

Certainly there are things that could have been handled differently as all people have different opinions on how to handle any given situation. I have spoken with Georgiana as acting clerk regarding the most recent situation that was reported by this newspaper. She, along with the employees involved and the Oswego County Personnel Department, are working through the situation.

It did not go unnoticed that several legislators quoted by this newspaper questioned the supervisory nature of management in the clerk’s office. I thank many who have reached out to me regarding this situation with management and their concern over current staff’s ability to supervise the office.

There are many things that I will be reviewing once sworn into office Jan. 1 and certainly the interaction between all employees, supervisory/management or not, will be one of them.

It is my goal, as I stated during my interview with this newspaper during the campaign, to change the culture in the office to a much more open, inviting experience for both the taxpayers and the employees.

All I ask is for the opportunity to witness it all with my own eyes once sworn into the office the voters of this county elected me to in November.

I know I have a job to do and I look forward to working with each and every one of you as you interact with the Oswego County Clerk’s office.

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