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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara
"Under the region's tree"
ALBANY, Dec. 23 -- Despite the enormous economic and fiscal challenges that will continue to confront New York and every other state across the nation in the New Year – and there are simply too many to fully list here -- we can never stop focusing on and investing in the foundations of a successful future.
Put another way, state leaders have to set the right priorities and stay committed to them, no matter what. In my view New York, over the past two years, has set a steady course in this regard by staying committed to priorities like lower taxes, less government spending, building a better business climate and more responsible fiscal practices.
That’s not to say, by any stretch, that the job is done or that we’re getting it all right. New York’s foundations for the future also include the continued development, enhancement and maintenance of a first-class system of transportation; the ongoing commitment to an educational system – from kindergarten through college – that’s second to none anywhere in America; and a more accessible, affordable, cost-effective and efficient system of health care.
All of the above and many others, of course, are highly dependent on what may be the most important foundation of all: a strong economy. There’s a persuasive case to be made that the greatest hope for strong, successful communities flows directly from an economy that’s producing good jobs and providing long-term economic security and stability.
So it was good, welcome news last week when the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regional economic development councils were recognized (and awarded) for having “best plans” in our ongoing quest, through these councils, to develop dynamic, promising, locally based economies. We’re in the midst of some hard economic losses at the moment, so at least a few rays of economic hope are more than welcome.
The Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions stand out this year and my gratitude goes out to the many regional leaders who have worked long and hard over the past two years to assess our regional strengths and weaknesses, identify specific economic priorities, and put in place short- and long-term strategies to keep us moving toward a stronger and more secure economic future. I’m confident these regional public-private partnerships will keep providing the economic leadership we need in this tough economy and build on these new foundations so that our employers and our workers can compete with anyone, anywhere for the jobs of the future and across-the-board economic growth.
But there will be ample time in the coming weeks to further examine the nuts and bolts of government actions. Instead, here at the beginning of this week of holiday celebration and reflection, I’ll most of all take this chance to express my appreciation for your ongoing interest and participation in New York government. Believe me, it’s important.
After all, of all of this region’s gifts, our greatest asset remains the people here, of every age and every walk of life, who live and work, go to school and provide public service, and otherwise take part in our communities in countless, meaningful ways. I simply can't say enough about all of the business owners, workers, first responders, educators, relief groups, volunteers and concerned citizens who keep answering the call throughout the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions. That’s the difference. It’s what sets us apart.
In my own line of work, that’s especially true when it comes to the input I receive year after year, session after session on so many of the common goals we share. During the past year I’ve heard from thousands upon thousands of constituents who took the time through an e-mail, a letter, a phone call or a community meeting to share concerns, ideas, opinions and suggestions for better government. This input makes all the difference, and I can’t do enough to encourage it.
In the important days and months ahead, especially as a new legislative session gets underway in early January, I’ll do my best to keep you updated on state government actions and issues important to our communities. I also hope that you’ll keep my Senate website in mind, omara.nysenate.gov, as a steady source of legislative information, news and updates. In other words, I hope we’ll stay in touch.
Finally – and foremost -- we can only say that the close of 2012, from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy to the heartbreaking tragedy in Newtown, has been tough. I know that we’ve all paused in our daily lives and in our own ways, no matter who we are or where we stand, to offer a silent prayer to the children and all of the victims, a quiet wish of hope and strength to the families and their communities, to count our own blessings and to pledge to carry on in a stronger spirit of common good.
The truest meaning of this season has never been more powerful.
My very best wishes to all of you and your families, friends and neighbors during these holidays and throughout the New Year. I look forward to hearing from you.
Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara
Schuyler County Officials
Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison
Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field
Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687
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
Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senate
State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)
Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Assemblyman Christopher Friend --
Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869