ELIZABETHTOWN - Jay town Supervisor Randy Douglas was sworn in to a rare fourth term as chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors on Monday.
Douglas, a Democrat, was unanimously selected by his fellow supervisors to lead the board in 2013. He has served as chairman since 2010. Traditionally, a supervisor is elected to a one-year term as chairperson, and the second year is often "rubber-stamped" by the board. A fourth year is somewhat unprecedented, Douglas said.
Douglas was nominated by Wilmington town Supervisor Randy Preston.
Jay town Supervisor Randy Douglas, left, is sworn in to a fourth term as chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors during Monday’s organizational meeting in Elizabethtown. County Clerk Joe Provoncha, center, reads the oath of office while Douglas’ brother Kevin holds the Bible.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Morris)
"Mr. Douglas took a hold of the reins during this ongoing economic downturn for us and the whole country," Preston said. "There could not be a more challenging time than the past few years, especially this last year. Mr. Douglas has never played politics. It has never mattered what (political) party you belong to; he has always been willing to help anyone who would ask."
Preston said Douglas' leadership proved to be invaluable in the wake of 2011's Tropical Storm Irene. Preston added that Douglas has built a strong relationship with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and leaders in Washington.
"Because of his efforts, when there is so much as a leaf blowing around in the parking lot, Governor Cuomo comes to Essex County and tells us he is there for us if needed," Preston said. "This is the clout that Randy Douglas has."
Preston said the county will need more of that leadership this year as the board prepares to tackle some tough economic challenges, including the pending sale of the Horace Nye Nursing Home and a dwindling fund balance.
North Elba town Supervisor Roby Politi, who decided not to seek another term as the board's vice chairman, said Douglas has earned the respect of his fellow supervisors.
"He is of exemplary character, and few have demonstrated the passion, commitment and diligence that he has exhibited as the presiding officer of this assembly," Politi said.
Douglas said the big challenge for the board this year is establishing a tax levy and a tax rate that Essex County residents can live with.
"Working together as a team will help us find solutions to the problems we are dealt," he said. "This means we have to stop the blame game of, 'It's somebody else that caused this issue.'"
The board voted unanimously to appoint Keene town Supervisor Bill Ferebee as vice chairman. Moriah town Supervisor Tom Scozzafava nominated Ferebee, calling him a great leader.
"I only ask that the Lord keep Randy Douglas in good health," Scozzafava joked.
St. Armand town Supervisor Charles Whitson was sworn in as the newest member of the board. He replaces Joyce Morency, who died last year after a long battle with cancer.
"You certainly have big shoes to fill," Douglas told Whitson, "as Ms. Morency was such a wealth of knowledge and will be dearly missed. ... I urge you to reach out to your colleagues and myself anytime you desire. ... We are here to assist you."
Two other appointments were made Monday: Judy Garrison was sworn in as board clerk, replacing Deb Palmer, who worked for the county for close to 40 years and retired in December, and Dina Garvey was sworn in as deputy board clerk.
This is the 214th Board of Supervisors to take office since Essex County was founded in 1799.
Contact Chris Morris at 891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.