PLATTSBURGH — Committee assignments for the Clinton County Legislature sparked a confrontation in the new majority party, getting 2014 off to an interesting start.
“I think we did pretty good with the committee assignments, and if some of them (legislators) are unhappy, ask them again in about three months, and I think they will be fine,” Legislature Chairman Sam Dyer (D-Area 3, Beekmantown) said.
Dyer took over the chairman’s duties Jan. 1, replacing Jimmy Langley (R-Area 7, Peru), who had held the seat for the past 13 years and continues to serve as a legislator.
Democrats won a 7-to-3 majority in the November election, giving them power to name the chair. Dyer lobbied for the job after Langley said he would be stepping down from the post, and he received enough support to secure it.
The chairman can make committee assignments on his own, but customarily the chair and the majority and minority leaders get together at the beginning of each year to decide the placements.
To make the assignments, Dyer said that he met with Langley, who became the minority leader and John Gallagher, the majority leader. He said partisan politics was not part of the discussion.
“We tried to put people on committees where their fields of expertise and knowledge would best serve the county,” Dyer said.
Each legislator chairs one committee and sits on three others. All legislators serve on the Finance Committee.
The chairmanship of the Airport Committee and the Finance Committee are seen as the two highest-profile committee assignments.
Langley was named Airport Committee chair, and Mark Dame (R-Area 8, City and Town of Plattsburgh) was made chair of the Finance Committee.
Langley said he felt the assignments were done fairly.
“We looked at each legislator’s requests and their strengths and put people where we felt they would do best,” he said.