January 15, 2014

Essex County committee chairs chosen


---- — ELIZABETHTOWN — Essex County’s five new supervisors may have to show their mettle before getting any full committee chairmanships on the county’s governing body.

None of Essex County’s new lawmakers was assigned chair of a County Board of Supervisors committee this year. 

But once they get some experience on the County Board of Supervisors and if he’s still chairman next year, some of them may find themselves at the helm of one of the board’s standing committees, County Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) said.

The biggest change is that Supervisor Roby Politi (R-North Elba) will now chair the Economic Development Committee, replacing Ticonderoga Supervisor Debra Malaney, who left office at the end of 2013.


Of the new supervisors, two do have chairmanships on subcommittees and task forces.

Supervisor Shaun Gillilland (R-Willsboro) is co-chair of the Animal Cruelty Task Force with Supervisor David Blades (R-Lewis), while Supervisor Noel Merrihew III (R-Elizabethtown) will chair the Space Subcommittee.

Merrihew was defeated two years ago, ran again last year and won the seat back.

The other new supervisors are William Grinnell (R-Ticonderoga), Edward Gardner (I-Essex), and Stephen McNally (D-Minerva).

Each committee has one or more of the new five supervisors as members.


Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) said there was no reason other than their novice experience to keep the freshman lawmakers from holding chairmanships when he made the appointments.

“It’s just because they’re new,” he said. “I really encouraged them to visit all the departments and get their feet wet. Next year, if I’m still there (as chair), we’ll look at giving them some chairmanships.”


The most high-profile chairmanship — of the Finance Committee that holds county purse strings — is still held by Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah).

The vice chair of the Board of Supervisors traditionally chairs the powerful Ways and Means Committee, to which all members belong, and Supervisor William Ferebee (R-Keene) will still hold that post.

Other committee chairmanships that are the same as last year are: Human Services, Blades; Public Safety, Supervisor Randy Preston (I-Wilmington); Public Works, Supervisor Gerald Morrow (D-Chesterfield); Personnel and Administration, Supervisor George Canon (R-Newcomb); and Legislative, Supervisor Daniel Connell (D-Westport).

In subcommittees and task forces, Blades will still chair the Budget Subcommittee that looks for ways to save money.


The Horace Nye Task Force has been dissolved, since a new owner is slated to take the county’s Horace Nye Nursing Home by the end of the month.

The Transportation Subcommittee is chaired by Supervisor Michael Marnell (R-Schroon), replacing outgoing Elizabethtown Supervisor Margaret Bartley.

Morrow will still chair the Radio System Subcommittee and the United Way Task Force.

A new Salary Study Subcommittee will be chaired by Deputy County Manager Michael Mascarenas. Scozzafava had requested that group be formed to determine if county employees are being paid too much or too little.

Finally, the Board of Elections Task Force will still be co-chaired by Supervisor Ronald Moore (R-North Hudson) and Morrow.

Email Lohr McKinstry at