By DAN GUZEWICH Staff writer

County Legislator George E. Joseph, R-10, Westmoreland, was unanimously elected majority leader of the Republican caucus Wednesday.

Joseph is entering his sixth-term as a county lawmaker. In 2012, Republicans will hold 16 of the 29 seats on the Legislature; Democrats will occupy 13. All board seats were on the ballot last month as Democrats picked up a net gain of two slots. Joseph was unopposed.

He’ll replace David J. Wood, R-28, Rome, when the new term begins Jan. 1. Wood did not seek another term as caucus leader but will continue as a legislator.

The GOP caucus also endorsed Board Chairman Gerald J. Fiorini, R-20, Rome, for another term. He’s been chairman since 1996.

The Democratic caucus will pick its leader for 2012-13 later this month.

"We’re going to have a lot," Joseph, 58, said this morning when asked about some of the issues facing the Board of Legislators in the next term.

He said "right out of the box" the board will take up the ongoing issue of whether the board size should be shrunk.

Joseph has been an advocate of eliminating at least six of the 29 seats.

Once the number of districts going forward is known, the legislature will have to determine new district boundaries that reflect the 2010 Census population counts for the three cities and 26 towns.

He said a constant consideration will be county finances. He looks for an emphasis on consolidation and efficiencies.

Joseph is currently chair of the Airport Committee, and vice chair of the Public Works and Agricultural & Rural Development committees.

The new majority leader was a candidate for state Assembly in 2010 and sought to be appointed county executive in 2007. He is a former chairman of the county Republican Committee.

He and his family run North Star Orchards on Route 233.