By Rob Montana
With at least 20 people announcing their plans to run for Tompkins County Legislature in the fall, Tompkins Weekly will be offering readers an opportunity to learn more about the people who will be appearing on ballots in September and November.
District 9, which covers the Town of Groton, and portions of the towns of Lansing and Dryden, has been represented by Glenn Morey since he won a special election in 2015. Prior to his time on the Legislature, he served as Groton town supervisor for 15 years and as a Groton village trustee for 10 years, in addition to serving on the Groton Community Council and as chairperson of the Groton Youth Commission. The legislator is seeking re-election, and will be unopposed in his bid.
Here is what Morey had to say in response to the questions we asked about the county and the role of legislators.
Tompkins Weekly: What are the top three issues facing Tompkins County?
Glenn Morey: The top issue facing the county Legislature is to hire a new county administrator and a new commissioner of planning and sustainability in county government. The county has been very fortunate to have Joe Mareane and Ed Marx as leaders in these two positions.
Joe Mareane, the county administrator will be retiring in February 2018. The county administration prepares budget documents, completes grant applications, runs the county’s compliance program, and ensures that the legislators and department heads receive the proper information to support critical decision making. The county administrator manages an annual budget of more than $164 million and oversees some 700 county employees.
Ed Marx, the commissioner of Planning and Sustainability, will be retiring this month. The Department of Planning and Sustainability primarily works to implement the Tompkins County Comprehensive Plan which presents a long-term vision for the future of the community. The department addresses housing, land conservation, energy, tourism and development for the county.
Another issue is that the county is required to pay for New York state mandates for programs, such as Medicaid; our sales tax receipts have been declining over the past year and property taxes have a limit. We must adapt to current needs for roads and bridges, land development, support for our county youth services and senior citizens as our community develops and changes and find an affordable solution. As a county Legislature, we must be able maintain good fiscal responsibility while providing the services the county needs.
Also, over the past five months the Public Safety Committee has been conducting an extensive review on alternatives to the Tompkins County Jail. The next Legislature will have to decide what recommendations are a solution.
TW: What skills do you possess that would be an asset as a Tompkins County legislator?
GM: The greatest strength in leadership I have is that I listen and hear what people’s concerns and ideas are.
I am running for county Legislature because I enjoy community service and because I like taking part in the planning and direction of growth that the county will be taking in the future. With this in mind, we must set goals in mind to promote inter-municipal cooperation, maintain a stable tax rate, and facilitate compatible and responsible growth for our community and its tax base. With my many years of experience on town and village boards, I am able to share these perspectives of municipalities as we contemplate shared services and look for ways to collaborate.
TW: What is something that would surprise people to know about you?
GM: I enjoy making homemade soup for my wife and myself. My specialty is clam chowder.
TW: How do you balance the desires of your constituents and your own personal beliefs when making decisions as a member of the Legislature?
GM: I will always have the people I represent on my mind when I consider a proposal or new laws that will come before me. I have always represented the people who elected me into office and my record shows that I have voted with their beliefs on my mind.
TW: Why should people vote for you?
GM: We live in a diverse area where the needs of the communities are different. Living in a rural area often does not coincide with the needs of the rest of the county. One of my greatest joys in community service is to take part in the identifying and solving common problems. This is accomplished through working directly with individuals and community groups. As we share ideas and solutions, we strengthen our community. My commitment to you will be to maintain the quality of life we have enjoyed in the past, protect our agricultural integrity, to see that rural roads and bridges get proper funding, to support youth services and senior citizen programs and to maintain the services at an affordable rate. We will accomplish this by designing clear goals and strategic objectives for District 9. I have learned through my experience and community service that with specific goals anything is possible.