Montgomery County voters are ready for a fresh start.
Last year, they approved a charter replacing the long-standing 15-member board of town and city ward supervisors with a nine-member legislature and an elected executive. On Tuesday, they voted in that new government, apparently choosing a young leader with no previous county government experience.
With 40 percent of the votes yet to be counted, it appeared that 32-year-old Republican Matt Ossenfort took the newly created executive seat by a wide margin over Democrat Dominick Stagliano.
“We’re celebrating a hard-won victory,” Ossenfort said Tuesday night, “I had no idea my message resonated with so many people.”
Ossenfort previously worked for Assemblyman George Amedore and founded the Montgomery County Habitat for Humanity. During the race, both candidates focused on the county’s financial decline.
The executive post has an annual salary of $85,000 for a four-year term. Ossenfort will be chief financial officer of the county, along with governing the county department heads.
With the board of supervisors, the chairman of the board leads for only a year. Currently, many decisions must be made by all 15 board members, which makes for a slower-moving government.
“Next week I’ll sit down with the new legislature and plan the transition between governments,” he said. “I think the people of this county were looking for leadership that could bring everyone together.”
County voters also chose the nine-member legislature Tuesday along with city posts, but as The Gazette went to press, some races were too close to call, with 40 percent of votes uncounted.
A few races were certain: The 1st, 4th and 6th legislative districts went to unopposed Republicans Martin Kelly and Ryan Weitz and Democrat John Duchessi, respectively.
Republican Barbara Wheeler was leading in the 7th Legislative District 385–351 over Democrat Jeff Stark.
Democrat Joseph Isabel took the 8th Legislative District 557–452 over Republican Vito Greco.
At press time, Amsterdam controller candidate Republican Matthew A. Agresta led Irene Collins, a Democrat, 1,388-1,307. The final tally awaited one out of 17 districts’ results.
Republican Eddie Russo appeared to be the victor in the 1st Ward alderman race. He held a strong lead over Democrat Kenneth R. Mazur, 524-374.
Ronald Barone Sr., a Republican, beat out Democrat Debra Baranello 316-284 in the race for 3rd Ward alderman.
Unofficial results showed two-term 4th Ward Alderman David Dybas, a Democrat, lost his seat to Republican Diane M. Hatzenbuhler with an unofficial tally of 172-244.