Legislator Anthony Jasenski of Rotterdam was elected to a third two-year term as chairman of the Schenectady County Legislature on Tuesday, calling for the county to continue the progress it has made over the last decade.
“I am proud to say Schenectady County is on the rebound,” Jasenski told fellow legislators and an audience of family and friends during remarks at the county’s 2018-2019 organizational meeting, held at the county office building in downtown Schenectady. “Let’s continue working together to keep the momentum moving forward.”
Jasenski, a retired Rotterdam police chief, has served as a Democrat in the Legislature since 2007, and was elected chairman for the first time in 2014. He was re-elected in 2016. Other legislative leaders, including Majority Leader Gary E. Hughes and Minority Leader James Buhrmaster, were also re-elected.
“Like many other counties around the state, a decade ago our fortunes were declining,” Jasenski said.
But since then, he said, a coordinated economic development effort has helped lead to $1.2 billion being invested in the county and the creation of 8,000 private sector jobs.
He cited accomplishments of the last term as including relocation of the Department of Motor Vehicles to upper State Street in the city, protecting additional agricultural land, launching a county tourism bureau and expanding efforts to fight drug abuse and street crime, as well as construction of the Bornt Literacy Center and laying the groundwork for a new Mont Pleasant library.
“While our future looks brighter than it has in a very long time, there remains more work that can be done,” Jasenski said. “We will continue our efforts to bring investment and jobs into this community. We will continue to make improvements in our neighborhoods. We will continue to seek out new and innovative ways to deliver services as we work with our colleagues in local government to find even greater efficiencies.”
Hughes, in separate remarks after being elected majority leader, said the coming term will “very satisfying and very challenging.”
Referring to last November’s elections, Hughes said, “I don’t think it was an accident that all the county legislators were re-elected. It was recognition that they have done a good job.”
In addition to citing many of the same accomplishments as Jasenski, Hughes said that the new federal tax law’s limits on property tax deductions and a state revenue shortfall estimated at $4 billion mean the county will need to work harder on shared services with other local governments. He suggested employee health care costs as one area where consolidation could save money.
Buhrmaster, a Republican from Glenville, said the legislative minority “stands ready and willing to work with the majority,” but also emphasized a need to lower taxes.
“We have to work together to lower the taxes in Schenectady County, they are breaking our backs,” Buhrmaster said.
Legislator Karen Johnson of Schenectady was elected vice chairman of the Legislature, and Legislator Phillip Fields was elected deputy chairman, the board’s No. 3 leadership position.
The Legislature includes 10 Democrats, three Conservatives who generally vote with the Democrats, and two Republicans.