Fresh off preventing a large tax increase in a difficult budget year by forcing a series of tough-minded budget cuts through the County Legislature, Majority Caucus lawmakers met Wednesday night to elect their leadership team for 2011 at their annual organizational dinner at the Shamus in Lockport.
After opening the floor to nominations, the four-party coalition that comprises the Majority Caucus decided to turn to the leadership team that has guided them for the past two years.
Legislature Chairman William L. Ross, C-Wheatfield, Vice Chairman Clyde L. Burmaster, R-Ransomville, and Majority Leader Rick Updegrove, R-Lockport, were all returned to their posts by acclamation after Deputy Majority Leader Gerald K. Farnham, R-Lockport, called on his fellow lawmakers to retain the leadership team that has seen them through the budget process, the selection of a new county manager, and a host of other governing challenges.
"I felt that it was wise with the success that we've had representing the taxpayers of Niagara County to continue what we are doing now," Farnham said after the dinner. "These gentlemen have done a good job for us in leadership. They've taken time away from their personal lives and their families to dedicate their service to Niagara County and the constituents that we represent."
Also on hand at Wednesday's dinner were outgoing Legislator John D. Ceretto, R-Lewiston, who defeated Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, D-Niagara Falls, to represent county taxpayers in Albany during the November elections, and Ceretto's designated successor in the County Legislature, former Lewiston Mayor Richard Soluri. Soluri was unanimously approved to fill out Ceretto's term by county lawmakers at Tuesday night's Legislature meeting.
An upbeat Farnham said he was pleased that the Majority Caucus had united around the leadership ticket he nominated. The leadership team will be formally ratified by the Legislature in January 2011, but the Majority Caucus's 15-4 voting edge in the Legislature makes that vote a mere formality.
"I felt this was the right thing to do," Farnham said. "It was a unanimous decision to take this county forward in 2011."