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Legislature Does Not Reach Consensus on Chair or Vice Chair for 2020

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Legislature Does Not Reach Consensus on Chair or Vice Chair for 2020

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Tompkins County Legislature, in its annual reorganization meeting Tuesday night, attempted to elect its Chair and Vice Chair for 2020, but in the end, adjourned the meeting without reaching a decision. The positions of Chair and Vice Chair are filled each year by majority vote of members of the Legislature.

The first scheduled meeting of the year opened with the election of Legislator Mike Sigler (R) to serve as Temporary Chair. Legislators Mike Lane (D) of Dryden and Anna Kelles (D) of Ithaca were both nominated to serve as Chair of the Legislature this year.

In moving the nomination of Mike Lane, Legislator Dan Klein (D) said as a past Chair, Lane had a direct hand in a number of County accomplishments, “while never letting politics get in the way.” Legislator Henry Granison (D) seconded the nomination, adding that Lane was found to say when he was Chair that he was “one among equals” on the Legislature.

Making the nomination for Anna Kelles was Legislator Martha Robertson, who praised Lane’s tenure as Chair, but said “that was a different time with a different Legislature.” Robertson took note of Kelles’ engagement at the State level with the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), her strong environmental background and her commitment to local issues of equity and diversity. Legislator Glenn Morey (R) seconded Kelles' nomination.

Two rounds of voting ended in a 7-7 deadlock. Voting in support of Legislator Lane were Legislators Shawna Black, Amanda Champion, Deborah Dawson, Henry Granison, Dan Klein, Anne Koreman and Mike Lane. Legislator Kelles received votes from Legislators Rich John, Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Dave McKenna, Glenn Morey, Martha Robertson, Mike Sigler and Anna Kelles. 

Legislators deferred the vote on the Chair until the end of the meeting, leading to a discussion over whether the vote of the Vice Chair should also be deferred. County Attorney Jonathan Wood said when a similar situation occurred in 2013, the leadership of the Legislature wasn’t decided until the second meeting of the year, adding the vote of the Chair could impact the vote of the Vice Chair.

Returning to the matter at the end of the meeting, two more votes for Chair resulted in the same 7-7 deadlock as earlier. A motion to move ahead with the vote of the Vice Chair did not pass, and the meeting was adjourned with Legislator Sigler remaining Temporary Chair until the next meeting.