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Mike Sigler

Tompkins County Legislator Mike Sigler (R-Lansing) is serving as temporary Legislature Chair for at least two weeks, following the Legislature's failure to elect a Chair and Vice Chair for 2020 Tuesday. The Legislature split 7-7 between candidates Mike Lane (D-Dryden) and Anna Kelles (D-Ithaca). The positions of Chair and Vice Chair are filled each year by majority vote of members of the Legislature.  A motion to move ahead with the vote of the Vice Chair did not pass, and the meeting was adjourned with Sigler remaining Temporary Chair until the next meeting.

"This is how democracy is," says Sigler, "Sometimes it's messy.  We have excellent department heads, staff, and administration.   Our services will not be affected at all by this and any major policy shifts still have to go through the entire legislature.  This is not a presidency, it's the legislature and all the norms that were in place yesterday, are in place today. The business of the county will continue to get done.  You’ll see no change in the day to day operations and we’ll continue to address those issues that confront the county and those living in Tompkins County."

Sigler was named temporary chairman at the legislature's January 7th annual reorganization meeting.  When he called for a vote for a new chair, the legislature deadlocked at seven votes for Mike Lane, D-Dryden, and seven votes for Anna Kelles, D-Ithaca.  Sigler called this vote several times, then moved it to the end of the meeting and proceeded with the other items on the agenda.  At the end of the meeting he then called for the leadership vote again and again, it deadlocked.
In moving the nomination of Mike Lane, Legislator Dan Klein (D) said as a past Chair, Lane had a direct hand in a number of County accomplishments, “while never letting politics get in the way.” Legislator Henry Granison (D) seconded the nomination, adding that Lane was found to say when he was Chair that he was “one among equals” on the Legislature.
Making the nomination for Anna Kelles was Legislator Martha Robertson (D), who praised Lane’s tenure as Chair, but said “that was a different time with a different Legislature.” Robertson took note of Kelles’ engagement at the State level with the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), her strong environmental background and her commitment to local issues of equity and diversity. Legislator Glenn Morey (R) seconded Kelles’ nomination.
Two rounds of voting ended in a 7-7 deadlock. Voting in support of Legislator Lane were Legislators Shawna Black, Amanda Champion, Deborah Dawson, Henry Granison, Dan Klein, Anne Koreman and Mike Lane. Legislator Kelles received votes from Legislators Rich John, Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Dave McKenna, Glenn Morey, Martha Robertson, Mike Sigler and Anna Kelles.

Legislators deferred the vote on the Chair to the end of the meeting, leading to a discussion over whether the vote of the Vice Chair should also be deferred. County Attorney Jonathan Wood said when a similar situation occurred in 2013, the leadership of the Legislature wasn’t decided until the second meeting of the year, adding the vote of the Chair could impact the vote of the Vice Chair.
Returning to the matter at the end of the meeting, two more votes for Chair resulted in the same 7-7 deadlock as earlier. A motion to move ahead with the vote of the Vice Chair did not pass, and the meeting was adjourned with Legislator Sigler remaining Temporary Chair until the next meeting.
"I'm going under the premise that this will be worked out and we'll have a new county legislature chairperson within the month.  In the meantime, I'll do what's expected of the chairperson, attending meetings, meeting constituents, addressing those issues that the legislature has agreed are our primary concerns and I'll represent the county to the best of my ability," says Sigler.

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