Former county legislator Dave Gordon opened his campaign for Oneida County executive in Rome, with attacks on policies and decisions of incumbent fellow Republican Anthony J. Picente Jr. and with invocations of President Donald Trump and former member of Congress Claudia Tenney.
Gordon said he chose the Amtrak station in Rome for his announcement event because the city voted for him in his attempt last fall to be elected county clerk, which came up 2 percentage points short, and because it’s the center of Oneida County. Gordon, 35, represented a New Hartford-based district in 2012 and 2013 on the county Board of Legislators as a Democrat, and is now seeking the Republican Party’s nomination.
The owner of a Utica insurance agency, Gordon said he would seek to make Oneida County more business friendly by getting rid of unneeded spending, reducing sales taxes relative to neighboring counties, and seeking to renegotiate an agreement with the Oneida Indian Nation, operator of Turning Stone Resort Casino, one of the county’s largest employers, to get more money for local governments affected by Nation land.
Gordon also pledged to reduce spending in the county executive’s office, back term limits including for himself.
“County Executive Anthony Picente endorsed Andrew Cuomo for governor, denounced Claudia Tenney for Congress and has led the most liberal agenda in Oneida County’s recent history,” Gordon said.
“I do not support Gov. Cuomo’s liberal agenda. However, I do support President Donald J. Trump and his efforts to protect the American people all while draining the swamp … Anthony Picente was so excited to meet President Barack Obama on Rome’s tarmac but never even showed up for President Trump’s recent visit to Rome or Utica. Anthony Picente has never been a Republican and never will be.”
He drew applause for the remark from the approximately 20 supporters in the train station lobby, including Tenney, who narrowly lost to Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi in November to represent the 22nd Congressional District.
Picente released a statement that did not address Gordon.
“Being County Executive is about ensuring the public health and safety of this community while having a positive vision to move this region forward,” Picente said. “I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished and look forward to the work we continue to do day in and day out.”
Picente is the longest serving county executive in Oneida County history. He was sworn into office in January 2007 after being appointed to fill the rest of the term of Joseph A. Griffo of Rome, who had been elected to the state Senate. Picente ran unopposed in 2015.
According to his campaign website, Gordon, 35, grew up in Utica, graduated from New Hartford High School and attended Mohawk Valley Community College with a major in public policy and received his insurance certification from Bryant and Stratton College in Syracuse. He is president and CEO of Partners Trust Insurance Agency in Utica. He formerly worked in sales and ran a Utica tavern. Gordon served a term on the county Legislature form New Hartford from 2012-13.He ran for the position of Oneida County clerk on a platform of improving the Department of Motor Vehicles. He sought the Democratic nomination for Congress in 2016 before switching parties.
Gordon also criticized the county for spending excessively on Griffiss International Airport, the former Air Force base now used for general aviation and as an amenity adjacent to the business and technology park on former base land. The county has sought, with state help, to make Griffiss a regional and even national base for developing the drone industry.
Instead, the county should pursue uses such as aircraft maintenance — a company doing such work left last year — and make commercial service a long-range, back-burner goal, which it largely has, he said. It’s part of focusing on efficient government with less taxation, he added.
“I believe in smaller, less invasive government that allows people to succeed on their own, by taxing less, spending less and working together collectively to find solutions to problems that do not require the use of public funds,” Gordon said.
The county executive is elected to a four-year term and currently pays an annual salary budgeted at $142,996.
No Democrat or other candidate has announced a campaign for the office.