Richard Kline has always been a Republican.
He’s still a Republican today and was all the years he was a councilman on the Schroeppel town board.
But when he took his seat as an Oswego County legislator representing District 12 (parts of Schroeppel and Hastings), he decided to join what was formerly known as the Democratic caucus in the legislature — not the Republican caucus.
“I have taken a different step,” Kline, 63, said recently. “I am an independent thinker and I plan to do what I campaigned on – coming up with solutions for our problems.
The Independent Reform Caucus consists of the five Democratic legislators who were re-elected to two-year terms on the county legislature: Michael Kunzwiler, Amy Treissider and Jacob Mulcahey, all of Oswego, Douglas Malone of Oswego Town and Daniel Farfaglia of Fulton.
Joining them are Frank Castiglia, a Democrat from Fulton representing District 25; Marie Schadt, a Democrat from Oswego Town representing District 19 which covers parts of Minetto, Oswego Town, Hannibal and Granby; and Kline, a Republican from Schroeppel.
“There are some real progressive people in there – it’s not all the good old standbys affecting our government,” Kline said. “We all have to work together to come up with solid solutions to our problems. There has to be a different way of thinking. I’m not saying we’re all going to be right, but these people have a lot of great ideas.”
Kline said he has no issues or difficulties with the Republicans in the legislature. He said they are a smart group of people and he is willing to work with them on all the county’s issues.
But his main thrust is everyone working together all the time. He agrees with Kunzwiler’s approach to putting a budget together – Kunzwiler, the legislature’s minority leader, says legislators should begin the budget process Jan. 1 and work throughout the year looking at areas to cut where the county can save money.
“We have to figure out what can the people afford,” Kline said. “We are an elderly county and the last thing I would ever want is seeing someone forced out of their home because they can’t afford it.”
He also is worried about the county’s reserves, which have been used in past years to keep tax increases at about 0 percent.
Kline was not endorsed for the Republican line when he ran for legislator, so he ran a primary against incumbent Republican Legislator John Brandt. He lost by seven votes.
He won the Conservative primary against Brandt. The two squared off in the general election in November, with Kline coming out on top by one vote.
Kline also was endorsed by the Democrats in District 12.
“I am for bipartisanship,” he said. “I really didn’t run under a straight party line. I want to work with all people.”
As for his next election, in November 2015, he isn’t sure what the Republicans in Schroeppel and Hastings will think about him joining the Independent Reform Caucus. He said so far, he hasn’t heard any negatives from folks in the district.
“I guess we’ll have to see how that plays out,” he said.