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Rekczis: I'm running for the Legislature
To the Editor on April 23:
To the people of Odessa, Catharine, Cayuta and Schuyler County as a whole:
My name is Keith Rekczis Jr. and I am running for the District I seat of the Schuyler County Legislature. To introduce myself to those that may not know me, I have spent most of my life in Schuyler County. I was raised first in Reading Center and then Hector. I graduated from Watkins Glen High School in 2015, and then from Alfred University with a bachelor’s degree in engineering in 2019. Currently I live in the village of Odessa with my fiance, Keziah Fraboni, along with our cat and two dogs and most recently 6 chickens.
My reasons for running for this position are simple: I believe the performance and standard of leadership set by our current legislator is unacceptable for a number of reasons. The first of those reasons is the lack of communication and accessibility. Our legislator needs to be someone who is actively communicating to our community what he has been up to, and is also easily available to any constituents who have comments, questions and concerns regarding our community.
In speaking with many members of this district, there is a common theme. “Who is our legislator? What does he do? I wasn’t aware they even existed.” This is simply unacceptable, especially with the resources available in the modern day and the current needs of a district and county that is hurting so badly.
If elected, one of my main objectives will be to ensure that the actions I am taking will be shared and well documented for our community, through social media and our local paper The Odessa File, both of which offer simple and effective ways to reach the majority of our constituency. Also, a primary action will be to make communication directly with my office by anyone that wishes to reach out as easy and efficient as possible. That means availability through a number of options, which will include social media, email and of course a phone call or stopping in person to say hello. These are the most basic of functions that our local leadership should be required to do, and if given the chance I will take the simple and easy steps to be the most open, available and responsive representative possible.
The second major point is that our district and our county need someone who is willing to stand up for our people and make their position a net positive return for our tax dollars. Here in District I, we currently have a lack of representation willing to both voice our concerns and stand up to ensure our towns and village are getting the return on investment from the county that is fair to our people. An example of this is a previous grant that the county received for electric car charging stations to be spread around the county. These would give the municipalities who received them points toward NYSERDA certification, which opens avenues for further grant money to towns and villages showing clean energy initiatives. The grant the county received was enough for 8 of these stations. If Odessa had been granted just one, it would have been a significant benefit to our NYSERDA standing, but our representative stood by and approved while all 8 of them went to Watkins Glen and Montour.
Another example is the complete lack of interest in working with and supporting our municipalities. In talking with the village of Odessa mayor and the town of Catharine supervisor, they’ve not once in four years even seen our legislator at a board meeting. This is a divide in local leadership that simply cannot exist. Odessa currently has many large-scale projects going on, including massive water and sewer system overhauls and installations, as well as one they just recently wrapped up in replacing all of our streetlights with energy efficient LED’s. These are projects that have managed to move forward with strong leadership in the village, without any help whatsoever from the county. We would absolutely have seen a benefit from the additional resources that the office of legislator can provide. At the very least, I would hope that a legislator would care enough to attend a village board meeting when these projects were being discussed to show support, but our legislator has attended not a single one. This cannot continue, and that is why I have not only the county legislature meeting on my calendar for the month of May, but all three municipality board meetings as well. In these times especially, our county and municipality leaders must be working together to provide as much support and benefit to our communities as possible. This is action that I will take on wholeheartedly as a priority of that position.
The third major point I’ll be discussing is the fact that we need in our district and county someone who is not afraid to stand up to the bullies that have occcupied multiple posts in our local government for years, as well as the big one currently sitting in Albany.
As for the biggesst bully, the one in Albany, our legislator has stood by along with all the others as one man has ruled via executive order for over 13 months straight. While they may lack the power to directly challenge the state authority, to simply sit by and do nothing shows a complete lack of leadership in the face of massive government overreach. This lack of energy, or overwhelming fear, is a quality that our community cannot afford as we watch in the early goings of this year a bank and hair salon already close up shop on main street Odessa. Many more have closed throughout the county, and others are on the brink. We may not have the power to overturn our governor’s authority, but to leave it completely unchallenged is something we cannot afford. I can promise that if given the opportunity to lead, his type of bullying will no longer go unchallenged in our community.
Overall, we must have someone in the legislator’s chair who is willing to do more than approve the day-to-day workings of the county. Our next legislator must be willing to put in the time to create multiple open avenues of communication, and must be willing to coordinate with local leaders and businesses to drive improvements and reduce restrictions on our community. The next legislator must not be a rubber stamp, but rather a driver of action that actually justifies a $12,000 salary and full benefits, the benefits being something that I would not require. I know that many may believe that I am too young, but I can promise you that I have the skills and the will and dedication to be a massive improvement over the current standard of leadership that our legislator in District I has set during his last four years.
Professionally, I work as a manufacturing engineer at BorgWarner in Ithaca, where in the early goings of my career I have already built a wealth of skills that would be invaluable to this position. On top of my everyday engineering functions -- which include leadership of cross functional teams, coordinating with all levels of plant operations from top to bottom, and investigation and implementation of major cost reduction projects -- I am the leader of a plant-wide safety committee as well as a global engineering team for all of BorgWarner. All of these skills will prove immediately transferable to the requirements of this legislative post.
Although I am a registered Republican, I will be running on the Independent line because this campaign is not about party politics or federal government blabbering on TV. This is about returning open, available and accountable leadership to the Schuyler County Legislature. You can find my campaign on Facebook at Keith Rekczis Jr. For Schuyler County District I. Feel free to reach out via that page online or come by the house and say hello. I live in the village at the corner of Merchant and Church, right across from the Odessa mayor, Gerry Messmer, and Curlystitch.
If you are interested, I can certainly use additional help as things start to ramp up! I’m looking forward to meeting many of you around the community this summer as the campaign continues, and hope that you’ll provide your support as I attempt to stand up as a voice that this county and this district so sorely need.
Keith Rekczis Jr.
Photo in text: Keith Rekczis Jr. with his fiance, Keziah Fraboni, and their two dogs.