January 10, 2013

Editorial: Right people in tough job

The best government leaders take politics out of the picture and concentrate on getting board members to work for the good of the people.

Clinton and Essex counties are fortunate to have experienced county chairmen with reputations for doing just that. In Franklin County, a new chairman is stepping into position, and we hope he follows the example set by his county neighbors, who have had to deal with difficult decisions and controversial issues during their terms.

Jimmy Langley, from the Peru district, is returning for his 13th consecutive year as leader of the Clinton County Legislature. He is a proven consensus builder who has guided that body with professionalism, fairness and openness. You will find little drama among county legislators in the past decade, and that is a credit to Langley and the cooperative atmosphere he has fostered.

Langley is a Republican, but he has never been a party-oriented leader, and that has set the tone for the other legislators, who also deserve credit for shunning politics. 

Term limits will end Langley’s days as a county legislator in 2015, and if you want evidence that term limits are a mistake, you need only look at him. A capable leader with a wealth of knowledge and experience will be forced out, not because voters were unhappy but because his number was up. Thankfully, the county has two more years before that happens.

Randy Douglas, a Democrat from Jay, has led the Essex County Board of Supervisors for three one-year terms and just began an unprecedented fourth term on Monday. He’s another exemplary county chairman.

Douglas has a reputation as a leader who can find common ground with everyone — his colleagues on the board, department heads and rank-and-file county employees. He is known for working long days — still making calls and exchanging emails late into the night — and for making himself available to hear citizen concerns.

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