SCHENECTADY COUNTY -- The Schenectady County Legislature is turning to one of its own for the next county manager.
County Legislator Rory Fluman of Scotia, a member of the county board for six years, was named the next county manager at a special meeting of the County Legislature Monday night. He was approved 9-0, with neither of the board's two Republican members present.
The County Legislature named Fluman, who is part of the board's Democratic majority, to succeed current County Manager Kathleen Rooney, who announced in December that she planned to retire this spring after 32 years working for the county. She has been county manager since 2005.
Fluman will start June 7. Rooney has agreed to stay through then, and Fluman said his immediate focus will be on "learning all I can from her."
Fluman was selected from among 13 applicants after the county advertised in local papers and state and national county government publications, said Legislator Philip Field, D-Schenectady, who headed the search committee.
"He has sure understanding of this county and the various departments he has dealt with, and the various levels of government," Fields said.
Fluman, who has a background in occupational therapy and health care management, is from Scotia and has represented a district that includes the village. He was previously a Scotia village trustee, and also served on the Schenectady County Public Library board of trustees. He owns an occupational therapy consulting business that he now plans to shut down.
He wouldn't have been up for re-election until 2021, but resigned his seat earlier Monday. County Attorney Chris Gardner said there will be a special election to fill the remaining two years in Fluman's term in November. In the interim, he said the County Legislature has the option of appointing a temporary replacement.
On the County Legislature, Fluman, 49, has been chairman of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Committee, which in 2018 led the efforts to have communities in the county consider service consolidations as part of a state directive. He has been vice chairman of the Environmental Conservation, Renewable Energy & Parks Committee.
His backers pointed to some of the projects he has tackled as a legislator as qualifying him for county manager, the chief executive officer overseeing a $330 million annual budget and 1,400 county employees.
"His efforts on the Legislature leading the establishment of the [Unified Communications Center], Street Crimes Task Force and the Solar Power Municipal Consortium, his experience as a small business owner, and his time as a legislative director with the state Assembly show that Rory has the experience and temperament to carry ouf the policies set by the Legislature and lead the day-to-day operations and employees of Schenectady County," said Anthony Jasenki, D-Rotterdam, chairman of the County Legislature.
Legislator Cathy Gatta, D-Scotia, acknowledged her first reaction when his name surfaced as a candidate was "Really?," but she finally decided to support him. "Kathy Rooney wasn't Kathy Rooney when she started. There are no perfect candidates. Everyone has to start somewhere."
Fluman, who is married with three sons, acknowledged he will have "big shoes to fill."
"Failure is not an option. I will work just as hard as as Kathy Rooney, just keep the momentum going," he said after the vote, in which he did not participate, with his resignation already having taken effect.
He said he decided to apply because as other candidates applied, he didn't see anyone else who had the experience to work with legislators and departments, and who knew Schenectady. He said he wants to maintain the county's recent record of minimal tax increases and encouraging economic development throughout the county.
"As an elected official, I knew I could step in. I knew the players and I knew the roles, and I knew we could keep things going," he said.
He holds a BA from the University at Albany in political science with a focus on public administrator, and a master's in occupational therapy from the Sage Colleges.
The job change will bring with it a major boost in salary: Legislators earn $14,000 annually, while Fluman as manager will be earning $163,681 annually.