WATERLOO — Varick Supervisor Bob Hayssen and Waterloo Supervisor Don Trout are vying to become chairman of the Seneca County Board of Supervisors in 2020.
With six-time board Chair Bob Shipley, R-Waterloo, losing his reelection bid in November, a new chairman must be elected at the Jan. 8 organizational meeting. Whoever receives a majority of the board's 750 weighted votes will win the seat.
Trout and Hayssen are Republicans. Republicans hold an 11-2 majority on the 14-member board, with Lodi Supervisor-Elect Kyle Barnhart not enrolled in any party.
Barnhart, also the Lodi village mayor, ran with Democratic Party endorsement in November, winning the seat now held by Republican Lee Davidson. Davidson lost a GOP primary in June to Mark Benjamin, but Barnhart defeated Benjamin in November.
It is not known which party Barnhart will caucus with once he joins the board.
"I'm interested," Trout said Tuesday when asked about his interest in wielding the chairman's gavel.
On Wednesday he added, "I would not change things much if chairman. I would keep the committees the way they are. Things seem to be running smoother and faster with the consolidation."
Trout said he would advocate for forming a county water authority, followed by a sewer authority.
"That would take the politics out of the board and help fix the problems we've had the past four years," he said.
At Tuesday's GOP caucus, Trout said he was supported for at least majority leader, acknowledging the board is closely divided between himself and Hayssen for chairman.
"I favor a committee structure that goes back to the rules before the last revisions three years ago. This would give us 12 or 13 committees instead of the six major committees we now have," Hayssen said. "This would go back to allowing all members to have more responsibility as a committee chairperson."
Hayssen, in a message to other board members, said he also would advocate creation of a new committee called The Benefitted User Water and Sewer Committee, with members being from towns that have ties to county Sewer Districts No. 1 and 2 and county Water District No. 1. He said ex-officio members would be the mayors of Lodi and Ovid. That committee also would meet separately from other committees.
His other goals, if elected chairman, would be to help Seneca White Deer and its tours, revisit the lease contact for vehicles with Enterprise, make sure the mental health department is relocated and properly funded, set up a capital reserve fund for major renovations, work to have the state designate Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery as the state veterans cemetery and upgrade deteriorating historical markers on county highways.
Considered the county's top elected official, the board chairman runs meeting, appoints committees, represents the county and is paid more than the other 13 board members.
Republican board members met in caucus after Tuesday's meeting to discuss the chairmanship and who will succeed Davidson as majority leader. Democrats Cindy Lorenzetti of Fayette and Jim Cleere of Waterloo, and possibly Barnhart, will select a minority leader.
The makeup of the board in 2020 will include six new faces. They include Barnhart, Cleere, Joseph Borst of Ovid, David Hayes of Romulus, Michael Enslow of Waterloo and Michael Ferrara of Seneca Falls. Holdovers are Trout, Hayssen, Lorenzetti, Reynolds, Ernest Brownell of Junius, Ronald McGreevy of Tyre, Ralph Lott and Paul Kronenwetter of Seneca Falls.