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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara

"Year's End, and Beginning"

ALBANY, Jan. 1 --It’s hard to believe that the final days of my first two-year term as this region’s State Senator have come and gone with the New Year. But they have. So I can’t think of a better way to ring in 2013 and the beginning of my second term than by recalling some of the thoughts I shared back in January 2011 when I first took office in the Senate.

I’ll start with this one: The economic and fiscal challenges may be as daunting as they’ve ever been in New York State, but there has never been a more important time to serve.

When I took the Oath of Office in the Senate Chamber on January 5, 2011, it offered a real opportunity to get to work on the ground floor of turning this state around. Nearly two years ago, the common thinking was that the ability of a new governor and a new Legislature to take dramatic steps to truly chart a new course for New York would ultimately be the barometer of our success. Would we finally begin to right the ship? Would we finally take advantage of the opportunity for a fresh start in New York?

Looking back over the past two years, the answer’s been yes on both counts. We’ve started to right the ship and we’re underway with a fresh start. So when I reflect on my first term in the Senate, I keep recalling that time-honored idea that “out of adversity comes opportunity.”

This same thought’s going to hold true in 2013, even more so. The fact of life in New York government today is that we’re going to have to keep reassessing the impact of Hurricane Sandy and respond accordingly. In fact, it’s going to dominate the key decisions of the 2013 legislative session that gets underway in early January. Governor Andrew Cuomo has already signaled the enormity of the agenda. In mid-November he formed three state commissions to undertake a total review and make specific recommendations to “overhaul and improve” New York’s emergency response capabilities. They’re charged with re-envisioning the state’s systems of communications, energy, environmental protection, transportation and others to better withstand future severe weather events. You can read more about each of these commissions, and we all should, on

It’s a huge undertaking. While the images of Hurricane Sandy’s destruction have been powerfully clear, developing a better picture of the economic and fiscal toll for the state, for New York City and Long Island, and ultimately for localities statewide will be ongoing. So much hinges on federal assistance. But it’s clear that all of the challenges we face – upstate and downstate -- have become more difficult in post-Sandy New York.

So I’ll wrap up this first term in the same way I began it, by saying that I’m enormously honored to represent all of you. I’m looking forward to the opportunities we’ll have to keep working together to improve the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions. The emphasis remains on together. Our communities are most effective when we join forces. I’ll keep doing my best to provide as many of these opportunities as possible because I believe, above all else, that a return to the fundamentals of good government is needed more than ever. It’s a list that always begins with open, straightforward give-and-take between elected officials and those they represent.

Priority No. 1 will be to carry on the tradition of accessibility and teamwork that’s long proven effective in representing the communities of this region. I’ll be working closely with all of our local Assembly representatives, as well as with the local leaders whose efforts are central to the quality of our counties, towns and villages.

Over the past several years of economic struggle, New York and states across the nation have been forced to make decisions that have been painful across the board. That’s been especially true in areas like education. In 2013 we have to continue our efforts to put in place a more equitable and
fair distribution of state education aid to low wealth, high needs school districts, particularly rural upstate and small city school districts. My sense is that we’ve never faced choices like we’re going to face in post-Sandy New York. Legislators statewide will be asking what it means for the future of education aid, but also for other priority issues including mandate relief and economic development (with a particular emphasis on small business and manufacturing).

Education aid, mandate relief and economic development are just a few of the priority issues that we’ll be watching for next week when the governor begins putting his agenda before every legislator and all New Yorkers during his January 9, 2013 State of the State message. In my view, it’s going to be the most important and maybe the most difficult State of the State of our time.

My Senate service will stay focused on fundamental principles: Accessibility to constituents. Responsibility to taxpayers. Economic and fiscal soundness. I’ll keep doing everything possible to build on this bedrock of government service, and I’m grateful for the opportunity. In 2013, it’s safe to say we’re going to be called upon for all of the empathy, cooperation, balance, perseverance, patience and common sense imaginable. Bottom line: The stakes will be enormous.

Throughout the New Year, keep in mind my website ( as a steady source of legislative news and other information, as well as my e-mail address ( to keep sharing your thoughts, opinions and suggestions for better government.

Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara


Schuyler County Officials

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison

Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field


Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687

Legislature Members:

Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967

Doris L. Karius, 546-5544

Barbara Halpin, 594-3683

Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385

Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517

Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482

Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335

County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133

Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222

Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222

County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181

District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383


State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County

Sen. Charles E. Schumer

United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address:

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976

Assemblyman Christopher Friend -- Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
Room 720, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-4538


© The Odessa File 2011
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869