Local and state representatives spoke at the State of the Area Forum hosted by the Cazenovia Chamber of Commerce on Monday, Jan. 11 at Cazenovia College’s Morgan Center. Eight elected officials outlined the past year for their respective areas, and offered their plans for 2011.
Speakers included Cazenovia Mayor Tom Dougherty and Supervisor Ralph Monforte, Nelson Town Supervisor Roger Bradstreet, Fenner Town Supervisor Russ Cary, Cazenovia Central School District Superintendent Bob Dubik, as well as Cazenovia College Director of Communications Wayne Westervelt. Assemblyman Bill Magee and State Sen. David Valesky also attended.
Magee spoke of the importance of change in the future. A longtime supporter of agriculture, he explains it is time to connect residents of New York City with the output of upstate farms.
“Governor Cuomo put a lot of emphasis on agriculture and the importance of it,” Magee said. “It’s a message that I’ve tried to carry for a long time. Agriculture is the upstate economy. It’s also the number one industry in the state, and we need to do whatever we can to improve it.”
Increasing the trade between the urban and rural areas of New York should be relatively easy and beneficial to both groups, he said. Magee also said that Cuomo will have the support they require, with rising popularity in “green” lifestyles and consumers’ desire to know where their produce was grown.
Valesky expressed disappointment with his fellow politicians in his fourth term as a New York State Senator.
“I have made some changes in how I represent all of you in Albany. We have had far too many embarrassments and moments that put dysfunction in the reference to our New York State Legislature,” Valesky said. “We found out a couple weeks ago that over the past two years, the Senate Majority had overspent its budgeted allocation by $14 million, at the time of the greatest state fiscal crisis that we’ve seen since the 1930s.”
After voicing his concern, Senator Valesky shared a bright outlook for the upcoming year. Attempting to avoid the pitfalls of Albany’s “hyper-partisan nature,” he and three other senate colleagues have formed an independent conference, apart from the two primary conferences in the NYS Senate. Valesky said the new arrangement will allow him to easily work with both the majority and the minority, increasing chances for bipartisan cooperation.
Mayor Tom Dougherty offered an optimistic look back at the previous year in Cazenovia. He and the village board successfully established the Traffic Violations Bureau, and passed a new “Social Host Law.” A new backhoe was purchased for construction projects, and numerous streets were repaved. Dougherty attributed the year’s success to the twelve public hearings that were held and attended by townspeople.
“We had a very busy legislative year,” Dougherty said. “The more public input we have when we are trying to put together legislation, the better the end result is. I want to thank all the residents that came and contributed to the public hearings.”
A brief question and answer period followed the speeches. Chamber Chairman Gene Gissin concluded proceedings by thanking the representatives and the 70 area residents in attendance for their continuous support. The Chamber of Commerce has hosted the forum for the past decade.