After being named Fulton County Board of Supervisors chairman in January, Ralph Ottuso is beginning to learn what it takes to balance his political affairs and his private business.
Ottuso owns Pine Lake Stoves, a Caroga business that sells various types of heating systems.
Though being chairman isn’t supposed to be a full-time job, Ottuso says it often feels like one.
Q: Do you enjoy the business you’re in? Why?
A: I do. I enjoy the fact that we save a lot of people a lot of money on their heating bills. A lot of my customers have turned into friends over the years, and I see a of repeat customers. It feels good when my friends come in with their kids. I have been doing this for almost 25 years now, so I’ve been at it for quite a while.
Q: Now shifting to your other job, what got you started in politics?
A: I ran for supervisor because I saw that the town of Caroga needed some new interest in the town. Not just the same old because nothing seemed to be getting done. For the last three years, the board has been getting a lot done. We’ve saved people money, updated buildings. We’re saving the taxpayers quite a bit of money and we’re getting stuff done.
Q: Now that you’re chairman, what has that position been like?
A: It’s been fairly interesting actually. I got to meet Governor Andrew Cuomo the other night. We went to the Governor’s Mansion and got to chat with him and he seems like a very down-to-earth gentleman. As I learn about all the committees in the county it is benefiting my job as town supervisor. The things that I am learning as chairman of the board of supervisors have been pretty interesting.
Q: What has it been like balancing the two positions?
A: There is a lot of time that needs to be invested to be chairman of the board. I have been away from my business more than I normally am. They say it’s not a full-time position, it’s not a part-time position, it’s a three-quarter-time position. This whole week, I have been at a conference in Albany and then later today I have to run and go to a county planning board meeting. So there is a lot more time but my staff is helping out quite a bit. They are picking it up when I’m not here. So it’s working out pretty well.
Q: What have you enjoyed most so far about being chairman?
A: I enjoy getting ideas from other chairmen and listening to what they have to say. I seem to have more of an impact now that I’m chairman because all of the other supervisors listen to you and tend to follow your lead, which is a nice thing. Chatting with the governor was really cool and seeing how politics work was really interesting.
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