By Jim Austin and Michelle Miller
THE COOPERSTOWN CRIER
Barring a challenge from an independent candidate, it appears Village Trustee Jeff Katz will become the next mayor of Cooperstown.
Tuesday night while the Democrats were nominating a full slate of candidates for the March election during their caucus, Mayor Joe Booan was at the Republican caucus reading a prepared speech in which he said he will not seek a second term.
He said the decision has been “weighing very heavily” on his mind because he knows there is work left to do for the residents of the community. However, he said he believes the village board has experienced “significant success” and he feels “very strongly” that he is stepping aside and leaving the village in a better position than when he took office.
“It has been the honor of my life to be the mayor of Cooperstown,” Booan said. “To be elected by the residents of this community, a community that I grew up in, has been one of the most gratifying experiences as well as one of the most humbling experiences I’ve had.”
Booan said serving as mayor has been “quite a journey.” He said the village faces many complex challenges, and believes there were no exceptions during his tenure.
“Sometimes we endured stormy seas, but I think more often than not we experienced a lot of success. And I think most importantly it has been together, working together working as a team that we’ve been successful,” Booan said.
According to Booan, his goals have been to keep taxes in check, to find efficiency, to improve quality, to improve infrastructure and to listen.
“I think together we have been successful in accomplishing those goals,” he said.
Booan said he is hopeful that the board of trustees will continue down the path of fiscal responsibility, infrastructure improvement and continue to search for quality.
“Although I am not seeking re-election for this term, I remain open to serve this community in the future,” Booan said.
There have been many individuals, according to Booan, who have been supportive of him during his time in office as a trustee and mayor. He wrapped up his speech by thanking them for their kind words and advice and for making the village a “special place” in which to live and work.
“We live in a great community. A phenomenal community; and we should never lose our sight to what is important. We have to work together to preserve those things that are important to us and are common visions. But most importantly we have to do that with respect and with kindness.”
The Republican caucus, attended by a half-dozen people, ended following Booan’s speech. The Republicans nominated no candidates for the three positions up for election.
In contrast, the Democratic caucus was well-attended, filling the fire hall meeting room.
The Democrats nominated incumbent Trustee James Dean and Cynthia Falk to run for the two three-year trustee terms and Katz to run for mayor in what had looked like to be a rematch of the 2010 election in which he and Booan faced off in the mayoral race.
Falk is a member of the village’s Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board. Before that she served for a number of years on the village planning board and remains an alternate member. She said she was “excited” people put their faith in her ability to serve as trustee.
Dean was elected to the board for one year to complete an unexpired term.
“It’s been a great experience,” he said. “It’s a great job. I’m looking forward to the next three years.”
Following his nomination, Katz told the crowd that after the party’s sweep of last year’s election, the board has come a long way and it was done it with civility and fact-based arguments.
“It’s been amazing,” he said, pointing to changes in the tentative budget to include more money for street work, retention of position on the village workforce and saving the police department from consolidation with the sheriff’s office.
Trustee Walter Franck described Katz, the senior member of the board of trustees, as intelligent, diligent, extremely well-informed and a valuable repository of information.
Katz said Wednesday morning that he was “surprised” to hear of Booan’s decision not run.
“It’s not easy to run for office in the village,” he said. “It’s a lot of work and I appreciate any person who has taken it on.”
Residents interested in seeking election have until Feb. 14 to file an independent nominating petition, according to village Clerk Teri Barown.