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March 7, 2013

Lentz, Otsego Dems eye prized board seat

By Joe Mahoney
Cooperstown Crier

---- — The former chairman of the Otsego County Democratic Committee, Ed Lentz of New Lisbon, is “seriously interested” in mounting a candidacy for the county representative seat now held by Rep. Pauline Koren, R-Milford, according to committee Chairman Richard Abbate.

Koren, elected for the first time in 2011, holds the most weighted votes on the county board, and if her seat were captured by a Democrat while the other 13 seats kept the political affiliation they have now, the GOP would lose control of county government.

Abbate said he expects Lentz, a lawyer, will make a decision about running for county board in about two weeks.

The county Democrats, as expected, have granted approval to Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller, an independent, to pass petitions to run on the Democratic line in the November election.

Abbate noted that the county committee’s acceptance of Miller does not preclude other Democrats from throwing their hat in the ring and trying to force a primary.

Miller’s interest in taking the Democratic line has been opposed by Sustainable Otsego moderator Adrian Kuzminski of Fly Creek, who has criticized the mayor for being an advocate of the proposed Constitution Pipeline. However, county Democratic leaders have said they would defer to Oneonta Democrats, who have signaled they remain in Miller’s corner.

Abbate said in a statement: “Dick Miller has been an effective mayor, and the county committee was impressed with his presentation and the accomplishments of his first term.”

So far, no Oneonta Democrat has announced plans to challenge Miller for the nomination.

In another political development, county Rep. Catherine Rothenberg, D-Oneonta, a member of the county board for 19 years, confirmed last week she will not seek re-election.

Meanwhile, Teresa Winchester of Butternuts has been endorsed by county Democrats as their candidate for the District 2 seat now held by Rep. James Powers, R-Butternuts. Powers, who is expected to run for re-election, defeated Winchester in 2011.

The six Democratic representatives seeking to keep their seats on the county board all received the committee’s endorsement. They are Rich Murphy of Oneonta, Beth Rosenthal of Roseboom, John Kosmer of Fly Creek, Gary Koutnik of Oneonta, Linda Rowinski of Oneonta and Katherine Stuligross of Oneonta.

County Democrats also endorsed incumbent town supervisors Charles Eckelmann of Butternuts, Chris Harmon of Milford, Robert Taylor of New Lisbon and Robert Wood of the town of Oneonta. The committee also backed town council candidates Scott Lueck of Butternuts, Tracy Laughlin of Cherry Valley, Julianne Sharratt of Hartwick and Tom Hohensee of Otsego, as well as Gilbertsville mayoral candidate Ken Nolan.