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Quackenbush elected chair of Montgomery County Legislature

FONDA – Thomas Quackenbush will head Montgomery County’s legislative body for a third time.

As Minden town supervisor, Quackenbush served two one-year terms as chairman of the Board of Supervisors. As a legislator from District 2 under the new county legislature form of government, he was elected chairman at Wednesday’s organizational meeting.

“I’ve come prepared to start on Day One,” Quackenbush said in accepting the chairmanship. “I’ve made a list of committee assignments and handed it to the clerk right now.”

He also noted that the elevated, stage-like platform at which the chairman, the board clerk and the county attorney sat during Board of Supervisors meetings has been removed.

“I thought the first thing we should do is get rid of the dais,” he said. “It makes for a level playing field. The first vote [for chairman] is over, so let’s leave the politics behind.”

Quackenbush won the chairmanship by a 5-4 vote of the nine legislators. District 3 legislator Roy Dimond, District 6 legislator John M. Duchessi, District 8 legislator Joseph M. Isabel and District 9 legislator Alexander S. Kuchis cast the negative votes.

District 7 legislator Barbara S. Wheeler was elected deputy chairman. Both will serve one-year terms. Cheryl Reese was named clerk of the board.

A resolution adding the position of communications specialist also passed but not unanimously. The measure upgrades an administrative aide position to executive secretary to newly-elected county executive Matthew Ossenfort. The measure also replaces a senior account clerk typist position with that of communications specialist and calls for using $5,873 from the county’s contingency fund to increase the salary to $39,393 for the new position. Legislators voting against the measure questioned the wisdom of dipping into the contingency fund on the first day of the new year.

“It is foolish for us to spend money out of the contingency fund on Day One,” District 1 legislator Brian Kelly said. “I want to support the county executive, but I also want to be fiscally responsible. This charter was sold to us as a way to save money.”

District 4 legislator Ryan Weitz agreed with Kelly, saying he could not support using nearly 3 percent of the contingency fund for the whole year on the first day.

Ossenfort stressed the need for the new position.

“I’m looking to hit the ground running,” he said. “I need the resources to do that. I do not find spending $39,000 on a communications specialist foolish.”

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About John Becker

John Becker is both a Reporter and Consulting Editor for The Compass. He and his wife Pat operate Abbey Farms in Amsterdam NY.

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