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Out-Going Oswego County Legislature Chairman: Work Together

From left are Legislator Shane Broadwell, District 17, Republican Majority Leader; Chairman Kevin Gardner; Legislator Frank Castiglia Jr., District 25, Democrat Minority Leader.

From left are Legislator Shane Broadwell, District 17, Republican Majority Leader; Chairman Kevin Gardner; Legislator Frank Castiglia Jr., District 25, Democrat Minority Leader.

OSWEGO – Kevin Gardner gave members of the Oswego County Legislature at bit of advice at group’s December meeting.

From left are Legislator Shane Broadwell, District 17, Republican Majority Leader; Chairman Kevin Gardner; Legislator Frank Castiglia Jr., District 25, Democrat Minority Leader.
From left are Legislator Shane Broadwell, District 17, Republican Majority Leader; Chairman Kevin Gardner; Legislator Frank Castiglia Jr., District 25, Democrat Minority Leader.

“Stay together. Keep working together. Don’t ever let someone tell you you can’t do something. If they tell you you can’t – prove them wrong, prove them wrong,” he said in his final address as their chairman.

Gardner represented District 13 for the last 14 years and served as Legislature Chairman for the past four.

During his tenure, Gardner worked to stabilize property taxes and relieve the burden of state mandates on taxpayers, protect local services and enhance the over-all quality of life for residents and visitors.

He was quick to point out that positive things got done because the entire legislature worked together.

Some of the successful initiatives during his tenure include the creation of the Oswego County Anti-Poverty Task Force and Oswego County Land Bank; continuing Oswego County Green Team projects to reduce annual energy costs by nearly $20,000; supporting applications for national designations for both Fort Ontario State Historic Site and a Great Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary; upgrades to Camp Zerbe and the Department of Social Services facility; and the allocation of space for a new second Family Court judge.

When he first sat in the chairman’s seat, Gardner said he was nervous about speaking in front of people.

“Well, I’ve really improved on my speaking ability. I have come a long way with the legislature, hopefully with every one of you,” he said. “I want to say thank you for your support. And, your continued support as your county treasurer.”

“What an interesting four and a half years it has been. We’ve accomplished so much. We have had some high highs and some really lows. But, over all, we’ve done a lot of good,” he continued.

When he first came in, it was interesting to understand the relationship Oswego County had with other counties, with the state and other municipalities and even the federal government.

“We had none; we really didn’t have any,” he said. “It was interesting to see, when we reached out, how much support we got for Oswego County. We got to know Albany. It has been a true pleasure to sit down and discuss the goals and visions of Oswego County with the leadership in Albany. They get it. They know what they can do for us to help improve Oswego County.”

Something happened a couple weeks ago “that really, really shocked me. It happened to a couple of us on the legislature – we were invited to the White House,” Gardner said.

“I took that offer up. I went down there, didn’t know what to expect. What did they want with the chairman of a small county in Upstate New York? The interesting thing that I found was when we got there, we sat and talked about the visions and goals of Oswego County with the leadership of this nation. The people that were there were the leaders of this nation. They expressed their concerns – their goals and visions for Oswego County as well,” he said. “It was so interesting to work with the leadership in Albany and then go to Washington and sit and talk to the leaders of our nation and the goals are the same! The goals are exactly the same.”

The problem for everyone is the journey; everybody has roadblocks at certain parts of the journey that they have figure out how to overcome, he pointed out.

“Obviously we want to take care of our elderly, our poor, stimulate job growth, help our veterans – the simple goals in life. So Albany sees it. The nation sees it and we see it,” he said.

The very interesting thing that he learned that day was that the Oswego County Legislature did something different the last four years, he told his fellow legislators.

“This legislature didn’t act by party lines. This legislature worked together to try to get through some of the hardest times in Oswego County history. We worked together. That’s the difference,” he explained. “It’s interesting to see different parties, different relationships at different levels. But, in the end, what we’ve done for four years is work together.”

“Not everything is a compromise. But we give a little to gain a lot. That’s what we’ve done for the past four-plus years. We’ve all given a little to gain a lot,” he added. “I don’t want this (legislature) to go back to the way it was in the ‘old days.’ Stay together. Keep working together. Respect each other. Don’t ever let someone tell you you can’t do something. If they tell you you can’t – prove them wrong, prove them wrong.”

In January, Gardner will start a new chapter in local government by serving as Oswego County Treasurer.