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.
Another attribute of both Douglas and Langley that we especially appreciate: their responsiveness to media inquiries. Because answering questions from reporters is equivalent to answering questions from the public. We ask so the public can be informed.
Over in Franklin County, Democrat Bill Jones of Chateaugay will be serving his first term as leader of the County Legislature. He was elected to that body in 2011 and during most of his first term had a dual role as mayor of the Village of Chateaugay, a position he held from April 2009 to August 2012.
At age 38, Jones is expected to bring enthusiasm and fresh perspective to the legislature and to the issues the county faces in these tough economic times.
We hope he, too, will ensure that political party has no bearing on decisions made during his tenure. Ample evidence exists in Clinton and Essex counties of how successful that kind of leadership can be.