ALBANY — At the annual organizational meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 1, the Democratic caucus on the county Legislature unanimously elected Andrew Joyce to another term as chair, and Republicans unanimously elected Frank Mauriello to serve a second term as leader of the minority caucus.
After the 2019 election that saw 11 new members elected to the 39-member panel, the Democrats added a seat to their overwhelming majority and enter the New Year with 30 members in the caucus.
Also, for the first time in 45 years, there will be a new clerk of the Legislature. Necole Chambers, who has been the first deputy clerk since 2016, will change positions with Paul Devane, who has been clerk since 1974.
Joyce, first elected chair two years ago, represents District 9 which includes parts of the City of Albany and the Town of Bethlehem. He became the youngest person to hold the post during a shakeup in the Democratic Party, and quickly shook things up in the Legislature, in part by giving Republicans positions as committee chairs for the first time in the Legislature’s 50-year history.
“The first two years were a learning experience but I am excited to get started,” Joyce said. “We have 11 new individuals who are already bringing a whole breath of new ideas and momentum to the body. We have an increasing list of items to get to, from the new programs addressing community needs added to our county budget, to the final rollout of our electronic management system, which will not only reduce our reliance on paper, but also improve operations and provide better public access.”
In 2019, Democrats took over a Republican seat in Colonie with the victory of Nathan Bruschi over Jeff LaMountain in District 24 to replace the retiring Peter Crouse, a Republican. And they picked up a seat in District 36, where Democrat Matthew Miller won a three way race to replace the retiring Republican Richard Mendick. In District 37, representing Coeymans, Republican George Langdon beat incumbent Democrat Richard Touchette.
Despite the overwhelming minority, Mauriello said Republican lawmakers have pushed for more transparency and professionalism in the county Legislature.
“We have demanded the legislators and public be provided required, but routinely ignored, fiscal impact statements for proposed legislation, and that the whole legislature be given 48 hours to review changes to the Executive Budget before voting on it,” he said. “We have successfully stopped ill-conceived laws such as an onerous paid sick leave mandate on small businesses; the Secondhand Dealer law which would’ve decimated local business including local eBay, Etsy and garage/antique sales; and an illegal mandate for fire sprinklers in all new residential structures.”