Steuben County Legislative Chair Steps Down

December 26, 2019

From Steuben County Manager Jack Wheeler:

BATH – After serving a record nine years as Steuben County Legislature Chairman, Joe Hauryski, R-Campbell, will step down Dec. 31. First elected in 2007, Hauryski chaired the county Legislature’s Public Works Committee before filling the vacancy in 2010 left by then-Chairman Patrick Donnelly, R-Bath. Donnelly stepped down that year to lead the county’s Finance Department. The county’s chief elected official, Hauryski led the county through fundamental changes including a new charter and organizational restructuring, Medicaid reform and the construction of the county Annex. “It feels like yesterday,” Hauryski said. “And it feels like a 100 years ago.” A graduate of The Ohio State University, Hauryski spent 32 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He was well-known as a strong advocate for agriculture, economic development, communication and guiding the county Legislature through painful decisions. “Selling the health care facility was maybe the hardest,” he said. “No one wanted to sell it. But the state was pulling out from its promises to help build and to provide more funds for operations just as fast as it was making those promises. We couldn’t rely on the state, and our costs were overwhelming our taxpayers.” Hauryski was a strong believer in communication, from the top down to the basics. He invited state representatives to annual meetings with county legislators, set yearly goals for the Legislature and its committees, launched a newsletter for municipalities and encouraged regular contact with the press and media. His low-key leadership style kept politics out of the picture and always focused on the strengths of those around him, notably using small sub-committees to effectively and efficiently develop plans before they were brought back to the committee and full board. “I listened to everyone,” he said. “Both sides, pros and cons. And I can’t say enough about my fellow legislators, their quality and willingness to ask tough questions, listen to the answers and act. We’re the back stop for the departments, the deputy manager, the manager. We hire the best and we let them do their best.” Hauryski credits former county Manager Mark Alger, current county Manager Jack Wheeler, former legislative chairmen Philip Roche and Donnelly, and Clerk of the Legislature Brenda Mori for their work in laying the groundwork for his efforts. “And I am so proud of all the work our county Public Works department has done under (Public Works Commissioner) Vince Spagnoletti,” he said “That’s the committee I started with, and their Five Year Plan has gone a long way to improve conditions and build our economic development. Vince is an incredible commissioner.”

While generally a critic of studies he believes prove what is already known, Hauryski also is proud of the Steuben County Agricultural & Farmland Protection Plan, an all-encompassing study of local farming needs developed by county Planning Director Amy Dlugos. “The plan has really set the direction for the future,” Hauryski said. “It was a monumental undertaking and Amy deserves a lot of credit for her hard work.” Hauryski never forgot the people who first elected him, and attended town meeting in Campbell, Savona and Bradford every two months, to keep up with his constituents’ concerns and report back on progress. He played an instrumental role with local and state leaders to keep the former Polly-O cheese factory in Campbell, after the surprise sale was announced by then-owner Kraft-Heinz. “What that sale would have done to the community? What it would have done to our farmers, our county?” Hauryski said. “Unimaginable.” Hauryski also believes in the importance of fresh voices and viewpoints and said the county will be well served by any new chairman, to be elected when the county Legislature meets for its Jan. 2 organizational meeting. “I know these individuals, have known many of them for years and I know the quality of leadership available to this board,” he said. “Steuben County will be in good hands.”