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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Hughes chosen as head of Schenectady County Legislature


SCHENECTADY — Exciting changes are on the horizon for the Schenectady County Legislature as the new year brings new leadership to the governing body.

Gary Hughes, a⁣ District 2 ⁤legislator representing portions of Schenectady, has been elected as the new chair of the legislative body during Tuesday’s​ organizational meeting. He will be‌ succeeding District 4 ​Legislator Anthony Jasenski, who held the role for‌ the past decade and nominated Hughes for the ⁣position.

“It’s been my distinct honor to ‌serve in leadership with Gary these ‌past 10 years, and I proudly nominate ‌Gary Hughes to⁢ be the next chair of the⁣ Schenectady County ⁢Legislature,” Jasenski said.

Hughes, a Democrat, was⁤ elected to his fifth four-year term back‌ in November and is beginning his 21st year with the legislature. His term as chair⁣ of the governing body will‌ expire at the end of 2025.

A longtime public servant, Hughes has held various roles throughout Schenectady County ‍over the years, including as a school board member‌ for the Schenectady City School District. He currently ​serves as a member of the Schenectady County Industrial⁣ Development Agency and a trustee for SUNY Schenectady County Community College.

Hughes ‌also has a background in broadcast ⁣journalism and‌ public relations, and had a weekly column in ⁤the Sunday edition of The Daily Gazette for years.

Prior ‍to his appointment as chair of the Legislature, Hughes served as the body’s majority leader. Richard Patierne of ⁤District 1, which includes portions of Schenectady,⁣ was elected to⁣ be the Democratic conference’s majority leader.

Democrats have long held a ⁤supermajority ‍in the ⁣Legislature and currently hold a 13-2 advantage.

Republican lawmakers Eric Hess and Josh Cuomo are the body’s only Republicans. Both represent District 4, which ‌includes the towns of Duanesburg,‌ Princetown and Rotterdam, and​ the small village of Delanson.

Hess, who​ is⁢ currently in his first term, will continue to serve as the Legislature’s minority leader.

Hughes, in a short speech after his ‌swearing in, vowed to work with local​ municipalities to benefit ‌all residents and continue the progress of the county government, which has ‍held the line on property taxes in‌ recent years and has experienced millions in economic development that has created thousands ‌of jobs while bolstering the county’s tax base.

“There’s plenty of work left‍ to be done, and under ‌my leadership we ‌will continue that progress,” he said.

Hughes⁤ said the Legislature will⁤ continue to invest in county-owned facilities to improve⁤ efficiencies,‌ and ‌said lawmakers will continue​ to find ways to invest in clean energy, including switching to electric vehicles wherever possible.

He touted past decisions by the Legislature to maintain ownership of the⁤ Glendale Home, a county-operated nursing home, ⁤and recent investments to the county library system that include the opening of two new Schenectady branches in recent years as⁤ examples of working to benefit all residents.

“In this chamber, we focus on what’s best ⁣for the county and our residents,” he said.​ “When we do that, we ‍succeed, because good ‍government is also ⁢good politics.”

Hughes also announced the formation of a new committee on firefighting and EMS, which will be chaired‌ by⁣ Jasenki, a retired Rotterdam police officer, and provide recommendations on how best to address slow ⁤response times that exist in some parts of the county.

“These calls ⁤demand a quick response and‍ in too many cases, in parts of the county, that response may be delayed due to shortage of trained EMTs,” Hughes said.

Cathy Gatta,⁢ a District 3 representative, was reelected‌ vice-chair⁤ of the legislature. She was first elected to⁢ the ⁣position last June, following ⁤the resignation of Jeff McDonald, a District 2 representative.

Gatta has represented District 3, which includes the towns of ​Glenville and ⁤Niskayuna. and the village of Scotia, for the past 12 years. She also serves on various community roles, including president of the Freedom Park board of directors, and is a volunteer instructor with the Empire State Youth Orchestra.

“I’m committed to fostering⁤ an‍ environment of collaboration, transparency and inclusivity. Together we ⁤will continue to ⁣address the needs‍ of our community, promote economic development, increase tourism and ensure​ the‍ well-being⁣ of all of our residents,” she​ said.

Philip ⁤Fields of District 2 was‌ also appointed deputy chair of the Legislature.

The Schenectady County Legislature will meet next on ⁢Tuesday, Jan. 9.

Emily Stanton
Emily Stanton
Emily Stanton, a skillful journalist previously based in Boston, is adept at covering a diverse array of stories. Her thorough and engaging reporting style, honed with a Master's in Journalism from Boston University, focuses on community-relevant stories.
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  1. Good punctuation and grammar, agree: Well-deserved appointment! Excited to see the positive changes Hughes will bring to Schenectady County.


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