After a tumultuous year marked with lawsuits and bickering, a Democrat will head the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors for the first time in nearly 20 years,
Supervisors elected Phil Skowfoe of Fulton chairman in a close vote Monday evening. He got the nod from nine supervisors, including four Republicans. Bob Mann of Blenheim received votes from seven supervisors.
Mr. Skowfoe, the first Democrat Chairman since David Handy of Sharon, succeeds Harold Vroman of Summit.
"I'd like to mend fences that haven't been mended," Mr. Skowfoe said after his election.
"I tried to do that as vice chairman and wasn't successful. Maybe I can do a better job from here."
He is entering his 16th year on the board.
Mr. Skowfoe served as vice chairman for last year and led an unsuccessful lawsuit against the chairman when Mr. Vroman changed committee assignments mid-year.
Five Democrats, Carl Barbic of Seward, Gene Milone of Schoharie, Jim Buzon of Middleburgh, Sandy Manko of Sharon and Mr. Skowfoe, voted for Mr. Skowfoe, along with Republicans Larry Bradt of Carlisle, Earl VanWormer of Esperance, Mike Brandow of Conesville and Tony VanGlad of Gilboa.
All but Mr. VanGlad sued to have the committee re-assignments overturned last year.
Voting for Mr. Mann were Republicans Anne Batz of Broome, Dan Singletary of Jefferson, Richard Lape of Richmondville, Bill Goblet of Wright, Mr. Mann and Mr. Vroman along with Democrat Tom Murray of Cobleskill.
After the vote was finalized, Mr. Vroman sat in Mr. Skowfoe's old seat at one of the ends of the horseshoe-shaped table and thanked everyone for the support they gave him as chairman.
"It was a privilege and I was humbled," he said.
He said he formed many friendships that will last a lifetime.
"I'm here to work for the great people of Schoharie County and the people around this table should too," Mr. Vroman said. "Our county deserves nothing less."
Mr. VanWormer, who preceded Mr. Vroman as chairman, praised the former chairman's work.
"I didn't always agree with Harold but Harold did the best he thought he could for the county," Mr. VanWormer said.
Mr. Vroman worked hard in the aftermath of the flood and the recovery process, Mr. VanWormer said.
"This county owes this man a whole lot," Mr. VanWormer said.
After Mr. Skowfoe was elected chairman, Mr. Brandow was elected vice chairman over Mr. Mann, a fellow Republican, in a very close vote.
Mr. Mann, a former vice chairman, received 1,450 weighted votes to 1,524 for Mr. Brandow.
As part of the re-organizational meeting, Mr. Skowfoe announced his committee assignments.
The chairmanships of the committees are split, with Republicans heading eight committees and Democrats heading five.
"I didn't treat anyone unfairly," Mr. Skowfoe said.
He said he saw a lot of work ahead for this year's county board.
The recovery from the flood will continue, he said, with the reopening of the first floor of the county building and the jail, and the major stream bank rehabilitation project.
Supervisors will also have to deal with the future of MOSA and continue negotiations with NYPA on a new relicensing agreement, Mr. Skowfoe said.