OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego County Legislature said goodbye to two of its own. Barb Brown and Barry Leemann, both of whom are retiring, were recognized at the last count meeting of the year.
“Barb has been a legislator here as you all know for a very long time – 20 years, from 1992 until now,” Chairman Leemann pointed out.
She has been the legislator for District 8, representing Palermo, parts of Hastings and Schroeppel.
“She has seen a lot of things transpire over those years. She has also served on the following committees,” he began but after going over the first 10 he added, “She has served on just about every committee there is!”
She has done an excellent job for us, Leemann said, adding that he thinks there is no better advocate for farmers than Brown.
“We have spent many days together, Barb. Throughout the years I have enjoyed your friendship, sense of decency and overall heart-felt commitment to the people of Oswego County. I wish you the best of health; we want you to get better, we wish you the best of health and happiness in the days ahead,” he said. “On behalf of the whole legislature and all the people of Oswego County, thank you for all you’ve done in 20 years for making our county a little stronger, our families a little safer, our farmers a little better and our hopes for tomorrow a little more reachable.”
“I will miss you all,” Brown said. “I will come back once in a while.”
“Thank you all for the work that we did together. And thank you for all your good wishes this year through my troubles,” she added as her voice cracked with emotion.
“This is a very enjoyable moment,” Legislator Jack Proud started in his farewell address to Leemann.
“Enjoyable because he’s leaving?” Legislator James Karasek jokingly interrupted.
“Getting to pass this on to a legislator for whom I have a great deal of respect,” Proud explained as he highlighted some of the chairman’s political career.
Leemann is retiring after 10 years of service, representing District 4 – Amboy, Parish and parts of Hastings and Williamstown.
“He has served as Majority Leader as well as being a distinguished chairman of the legislature . . . at which time he soundly defeated my candidacy, quipped Proud, the former chair of the legislature.
“I have enjoyed your friendship, your sense of decency and your heart-felt commitment to the people of Oswego County,” Proud continued. “I wish you all the best of health and happiness in the days ahead. On behalf of the entire legislature and all of the people of Oswego County, thank you for all you have done in your 10 years to make our community a little greener, stronger and our hope for tomorrow a little more reachable.”
Holly Carpenter, representing Sen. Patty Ritchie’s office, presented recognitions from the state to Leemann and Brown as well as former clerk of the legislature Ted Jerrett who retired earlier this year.
“On behalf of the minority caucus I want to thank you and Barb on your years of service,” said Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler. “I want to thank you for all your help over the years. Barry, it’s tough being in a leadership position. You held yourself up high and well in representing this county and we appreciate that. It’s not always easy. We don’t always get along. But, at the end of the day you’re always fair and honest with our caucus and we appreciate it. That’s better government when we work together, thanks to you. We’ll miss you.”
“All I want to say is everything that I’ve ever done here I have done with the help of you,” Leemann told his fellow legislators and county employees. “I couldn’t do a thing without the people that are in this room; we all know that. There is nothing that one person can do, you can try, but it is very difficult if you don’t have the rest of the people work with you.”
He said he enjoyed his tenure on the legislature and learned a lot.
“I appreciate it. I am leaving while I am in good health. I’ve got a lot of things I want to do. I’ve got a lot of energy left and I am going to do some other things and probably spend time doing things that might be fun; this was fun, but after a while it wears on you, as you all know, look at Barb for God sakes.”
The District 8 representative smiled knowingly and just nodded her head at the out-going chairman.
Leemann strongly encouraged the legislature to maintain the Green Team task force that he began.
The Green Team has brought in a lot of money through its energy recovery and energy saving efforts, he pointed out.
They have also brought in around $7.5 million. A lot of that money went to replace stuff that the county would have had to replace anyway (using taxpayers’ money), Leemann said.
“So we have actually saved county taxpayers an awful lot of money,” he said. “Everything that we have done and any costs … we will be getting our money back and be breaking even in two years then we’ll benefit for a long time. So I wish you’d keep that going.”
“We have worked together as much as we can, bipartisanly. I know we’ve had differences. But I appreciate everything everybody has done here working with me. I’d also like to thank (County Administrator) Phil Church. I wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t able to keep my head above water and (County Attorney) Rich Mitchell telling me which resolution to vote on … it’s tough to keep up with this stuff.”