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County Clerk Maureen Reynolds announced the appointment Last Friday of Legislator Shawna Black (D- Town of Ithaca) as Chair of the Tompkins County Legislature.

As stipulated in the Tompkins County Charter, the Clerk is charged with appointing the Legislature Chair after a 30-day vacancy. The position became vacant at the January 7th organizational meeting when Legislator Mike Sigler (R - Town of Lansing) of Lansing was elected Temporary Chair to oversee the selection of a new Chair. Legislators were then unable to reach consensus between Mike Lane of Dryden and Anna Kelles of Ithaca, both Democrats.

"I want to congratulate Shawna Black on becoming the newly appointed chairperson of the Tompkins County Legislature. I enjoyed my time as Interim Chair," Sigler said.

Per the County Charter, the appointment of Black will remain in effect until which time a new Chair is elected by a majority of the 14-member Legislature, an act requiring eight votes.

Ms. Black joined the Legislature in November 2017, and served as Vice Chair in 2019, as well as Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee for the past two years. She represents District 11 (Town of Ithaca) on the Legislature.

"I would like to thank County Clerk Maureen Reynolds for her confidence in my ability to lead our Legislature," said Black. "I look forward to serving as Chair,' adding that "over the past week situations have changed and I look forward to a resolution at our February 18th meeting."

Sigler reviewed progress the Legislature made during his tenure as temporary Chair:

"While we were not successful in our reclaiming of Hector, we did move onto the first step of building a downtown conference center. We also saw the dedication of the airport and a visit and tour by our US Congressman Tom Reed who helped secure 10 million dollars for the airport upgrades.

"I was joined by County Legislators Martha Robertson, Anna Kelles, Henry Granison, and Rich John in greeting Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul for a state of the state presentation at our economic forum sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and Tompkins County Area Development.

"In local economic development, the county began a lobbying effort for converting the now closed Cayuga power plant into a data center. Our county team travelled to Albany this month and lobbied for several county issues including the changes the Governor is contemplating for Medicaid, but in terms of economic development, the data center took precedent. It has the potential to be the largest single investment in the county's history and would recapture a use for what now is a dormant asset.

"We welcomed in African American History Month with an awe-inspiring rendition of "His Eye is on The Sparrow" by Naya Griles, Maria Ellis-Jordan and Oliver Scott.

"We named two new department heads, Dr. Kenneth Clarke as the head of the Office of Human Rights and Natalie Branosky as Workforce Development Director. We welcome them and our another new employees to the county team.

"In serious national and international news, the county kept watch on the Corona Virus and we were briefed at length by Health Department Head Frank Kruppa. He gave a detailed overview of what this virus means for the county, where we are with it, and where we could be headed.

"I want to thank my fellow legislators for this chance to serve the county in a different capacity. I think we accomplished a lot in a month and I was proud to represent you. I also want to thank Cornell, TCAD, the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, the City of Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick and his staff, and our department heads and county employees for understanding the unusual position I was in, welcoming me in that role, and working with me to accomplish county business that simply couldn't be put off. It was a good month."

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