The political landscape in Orleans County – Part I

Article by Gary Kent

Orleans County has seven legislators. Four are elected from districts. District 1 consists of Clarendon, Barre, and most of Shelby. District 2 is comprised of Ridgeway, Yates and a small part of northwest Shelby. District 3 is Albion and Gaines and District 4 is Carlton, Kendall and Murray.

Three legislators are At-large, meaning they are elected by the voters of the entire County. One must come from one of the western towns (Shelby, Ridgeway and Yates). Another must come from one of the central towns (Carlton, Gaines, Albion and Barre). The third must come from one of the eastern towns (Kendall, Murray and Clarendon). Hence, the terms At –large west legislator, At-large central legislator and At-large east legislator. To be an At-large central legislator, one must live in one of the central towns and be elected by the people of the entire County.

Legislators serve on various committees and take turns auditing the bills on a monthly basis. Most of what takes place in Legislature sessions is decided in advance in committee. They run on schedule and are supposed to be open to the public. It is extremely rare for the public to attend. Typically, the monthly sessions of the Legislature involve little “drama.” Monthly meetings take place in the later afternoon and are often concluded by the time most people get out of work.

Bill Eick is the District 1 legislator. Lynne Johnson is the District 2 legislator. Fred Miller is the District 3 legislator and Ken DeRoller is the District 4 legislator.
Dave Callard is the At-large west legislator and Legislative Chairman. Donald Allport is the At-large central legislator and John DeFillips is the At-large east legislator.

All legislators are up for re-election every two years.

The only ones facing challenges this year are Johnson and Allport. Paul Lauricella is running for Johnson’s seat in District 2 and James White is running for Allport’s At-large central seat.

A Chief Administrative Officer, C.A.O. works to research issues, make recommendations, and carry out the will of the Legislature. This person is appointed by the Legislature. The position is not supposed to be political. The C.A.O. at this time is Chuck Nesbitt. He has several other titles and duties related to the operation of County government as well. His immediate predecessor was Stan Dudek. Depending on who is C.A.O. and who holds the Legislature Chairmanship, the C.A.O. may assume a greater, or lesser, role in actually running the show. A strong Chairperson, such as Marcia Tuohey, can run the show if she/he chooses. Her C.A.O., Stan Dudek, deferred to her and put his emphasis on being a support person/ researcher/recommender who kept out of the political fray.

The elected County Treasurer is Susan Heard. She plays a major role in handling the receipts, paying the bills, and working with the C.A.O. and the Legislature on the budget. The Treasurer is also, like the C.A.O, the County Attorney, the District Attorney and the Sheriff, supposed to be professional and apolitical. She is present during budget meetings to offer her perspective on the process and is available to provide counsel to the Legislators and C.A.O. The Treasurer is supposed to give a report at the start of monthly Legislature meetings.