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Fitzpatrick expected to remain chairwoman of Jefferson County Board of Legislators

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Some political fortunes rise and fall; others hold steady. The new year will bring a trio of fresh faces to the Jefferson County Board of Legislators, but the primary leadership of the board will stay constant, for now.

Carolyn D. Fitzpatrick, R-Watertown, is expected to remain chairwoman for the next two years, according to returning members of the board.

“I’m very honored and quite frankly very humbled by the fact that I have such strong support,” Mrs. Fitzpatrick said. “A lot of good things have happened in the county, but it’s not just me. It happens with all 15 of us. It’s always been about teamwork with me and I believe my legislators will tell you that.”

The vote naming Mrs. Fitpatrick as chairwoman will not come until the board’s Jan. 7 organizational meeting.

Mrs. Fitzpatrick became chairwoman in 2011 after Kenneth D. Blankenbush resigned the position to represent the north country in the 122nd Assembly District halfway through a two-year term.

She has been described as a firm but compassionate leader by her colleagues, and has set a no-nonsense tone on the board from the beginning of her tenure. Keeping legislators in check, she is alternately called “Mom” or “Sarge,” she has said.

Mrs. Fitzpatrick was elected to a full term as chairwoman in January 2012. She has been a legislator since 2000 and has a long history of civic and political involvement on the city, county and state levels and served as chief of staff for former Assemblyman H. Robert Nortz.

Of the legislators returning to the board for another term, nearly all voiced unequivocal support for Mrs. Fitzpatrick, including board Vice Chairman Michael J. Docteur, R-Cape Vincent; former Chairman Robert J. Thomas, R-Glen Park; Michael A. Montigelli, R-Black River; John D. Peck, R-Great Bend; Health and Human Services Committee Chairman James A. Nabywaniec, R-Calcium; Robert D. Ferris, R-Watertown, Finance and Rules Committee Chairman Scott A. Gray, R-Watertown; and General Services Committee Chairman Philip N. Reed, R-Fishers Landing.

Mr. Docteur also said he would seek re-election as vice chairman.

“I have not heard of anybody running against her. It’s been pretty quiet,” Mr. Thomas said. “Sometimes quietness gives you the answer.”

Legislator Anthony J. Doldo, R-Watertown, was not available for comment Tuesday. Allen T. Drake, D-Theresa, is now the board’s lone Democrat and cannot vote for the chairman or chairwoman.

Longtime Legislator Jennie M. Adsit, R-Watertown, who recently was recognized for her 35 years of service to the county at the board’s last meeting of the year, said she would like to see Mr. Reed ascend to the position, although she also said she had no qualms about Mrs. Fitzpatrick’s leadership.

“I like Carolyn. She’s done a good job, but it’s unusual to have two terms,” Mrs. Adsit said.

Mr. Reed said that he had no aspirations to take on the position at this time.

If she is elected to a second full term, it will be up to Mrs. Fitzpatrick to appoint legislators to leadership positions on the county’s four committees: Health and Human Services, Planning and Development, General Services and Finance and Rules.

Mr. Nabywaniec has said he no longer is interested in heading the Health and Human Services Committee, though he said he would like to remain involved with the Watertown International Airport in some capacity. He served for several years as a member of the airport ad-hoc committee.

“It’s time to give someone else an opportunity,” Mr. Nabywaniec said.

Planning and Development Committee Chairman Barry M. Ormsby, R-Belleville, is stepping down from the board at the end of the year.

Legislators have speculated that no changes likely will be made to the leadership of the board’s other two committees. If this is true, Mr. Reed will remain chairman of the General Services Committee and Mr. Gray will remain chairman of the Finance and Rules Committee.

Mrs. Fitzpatrick declined to comment on her choices to run the committees.

Newly elected legislators Jeremiah J. Maxon, R-Adams; Jonathan L. Hirschey, R-Carthage, and Patrick R. Jareo, R-Ellisburg, will begin their terms after the first of the year.

An organizational meeting has been set for 7 p.m. Jan. 7 at the Historic County Courthouse, 195 Arsenal St.

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