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Ag Commissioner Aubertine resigns to pursue other options

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Cape Vincent resident Darrel J. Aubertine announced Friday he has resigned as commissioner of the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, and his last day on the job will be Wednesday.

Mr. Aubertine, a former chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators, said he turned in his letter of resignation last week for the position, after serving three years. He is now considering three job opportunities, one of which is in the public sector.

“Really, the motivation behind this decision was there were a couple of opportunities that have come along,” Mr. Aubertine said. “I have three other opportunities I’m considering and am weighing them and looking forward.”

Mr. Aubertine said he met with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo about a month ago to talk about the future of the Department of Agriculture and Markets. He made the decision to resign at that time.

“I sat down face-to-face with him about a month ago and had a good conversation about where the agency would go in the future,” he said. “The fact that I would explore other opportunities was discussed, and we left on very good terms. The governor and his administration has done more for the industry than any other administration I’ve worked for in the past — governor (David A.) Paterson, (Eliot L.) Spitzer or (Mario M.) Cuomo.”

In early September, speculation about Mr. Aubertine’s resignation was caused by a column in the New York Post written by state editor Frederic U. Dicker. Mr. Dicker claimed Mr. Aubertine would resign because he was dissatisfied with how the agency was managed by the Cuomo administration, feeling “cut off” and told what to do.

“I don’t know where Mr. Dicker got his information, but I can say that I’ve enjoyed my tenure as commissioner and the governor and I are on good terms,” Mr. Aubertine said in response to the claim.

The state’s agriculture industry made great strides over the past three years during his time as commissioner, Mr. Aubertine said. While the industry has taken a backseat role in the past, it has taken center stage in Albany.

“If you look back three years ago, the profile agriculture was given in the economy compared to how it looks today, I believe it enjoys a much higher profile,” he said. “People want to buy locally more today in the economy, and I think they have that opportunity. We’ve seen the expansion of the Greek yogurt industry and growth of wine, spirits, beer and cider.”

He added that staffers at the department impressed him by their hard work and knowledge.

“It’s sometimes easy to paint public service in a bad light. But I can say first-hand that, by and large, the people in the agency I’ve had the privilege to run are good people,” Mr. Aubertine said.

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