Democrat Michelle Ostrelich of Niskayuna was named Tuesday to the open seat on the Schenectady County Legislature created by the death last month of James Buhrmaster.
Ostrelich, 47, was already a candidate for the seat in the Nov. 5 election, since Buhrmaster had announced earlier this year that he would not run for re-election because of health issues. Ostrelich will face Republican Juliano Febo of Glenville in November.
“This is a bittersweet moment. The loss of Jim Buhrmaster is a great loss to the county," said Ostrelich.
Buhrmaster was a Republican, but the Legislature's majority is Democrat, and the county charter requires that vacancies be filled within 45 days. With Buhrmaster's death, there is now only one Republican on the 15-member county Legislature.
Legislative Majority Leader Gary Hughes, D-Schenectady, noted that Ostrelich has been a leader community organizations including the Ellis Medicine Foundation and the Jewish Community Center in Niskayuna. “I have known Ms. Ostrelich for some three years now and seen a skilled community leader," Hughes said. "She's an excellent listener."
Ostrelich will hold one of four seats representing Legislature District 3, which includes Niskayuna, Glenville and Scotia.
A graduate of Cornell University and its law school, Ostrelich is an attorney who has been a stay-at-home mom for the last 15 years.
In 2018, Ostrelich made her first bid for public office when she challenged one of the Capital Region's most prominent politicians -- state Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, who represents the 49th Senate District. While she lost, supporters said she made a credible showing.
Since even prior to announcing her candidacy in February, Ostrelich has regularly attended the monthly meetings of the county Legislature. She is expected to bring a strong interest in community health care and addressing the opioid crisis, Hughes said.
"I want to be a voice in the debate and to make Schenectady County the best place to raise a family," Ostrelich said following her appointment.
Ostrelich is married to Dr. Howard Schlossberg, an oncologist, and they have two daughters.
In Dist. 3, Ostrelich will be running for a four-year term in November along with incumbent county Legislator Tom Constantine of Niskayuna. There will also be a special election in the district, with Democrat Sara Mae Pratt facing Republican Richard C. Fritz Jr. Pratt was appointed to the seat in May, following the resignation of Rory Fluman, who became county manager.
Seats on the county Legislature pay $14,093 annually.