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County legislators choose Lynne Johnson as new leader

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 January 2018 at 8:40 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers: Lynne Johnson takes the chairman’s seat as the Orleans County Legislature after being elected leader of the seven-member group this afternoon.

ALBION – Orleans County legislators picked Lynne Johnson to serve as the group’s new chairwoman. Johnson has been serving as the Legislature’s vice chairwoman.

She replaces John DeFilipps as the group’s leader and the county’s top elected official. DeFilipps was picked as chairman on Aug. 14, filling a void when David Callard resigned after nearly eight years as chairman.

DeFilipps on Aug. 14 was picked with 4 votes to 2 for Johnson. Today, Johnson was a unanimous pick, including a vote from DeFilipps.

Skip Draper, a new county legislator, made the motion to nominate Johnson. No one nominated DeFilipps.

Draper has served on the board of directors of the Orleans Economic Development Agency with DeFilipps.

“He is a very talented man,” Draper said about DeFilipps. “He is full of good ideas.”

Draper said he has known Johnson much longer, and she has impressed him with her work ethic and leadership on many issues. Johnson has been the county’s representative on the Niagara-Orleans Regional Alliance, which has pushed for expanded broadband or high-speed Internet in the rural areas of the two counties.

Johnson has also been an outspoken critic of Plan 2014 from the International Joint Commission, a plan for regulating Lake Ontario water levels. She worried the plan would cause flooding and shoreline damage before it was enacted. The flooding and damage became a harsh reality in 2017.

Draper said Johnson has tackled tough issues for the county. For example, Johnson was the chairwoman of the county’s Public Safety Committee and helped the county with a major overhaul of its emergency communications system.

“She is a very hard worker,” Draper said.

The Legislature welcomed new member Skip Draper, center, and new County Treasurer Kim DeFrank, left. Legislator Ken DeRoller is at right.

Legislator Bill Eick said Johnson has proven herself. She has been on the Legislature for 10 years. She replaced Jack Beedon after he retired. Her district includes the towns of Yates, Ridgeway and a small part of Shelby.

Johnson is well versed in local government. She has worked as the bookkeeper for the towns of Kendall, Yates, Ridgeway and Alden. She also was president of the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce from 2002 to 2004 and a member of the Lyndonville Board of Education from 2001 to 2004. She also serves on the board for Community Action of Orleans & Genesee and is a past president of the Lyndonville Lions Club.

“She deserves an opportunity as chair,” Eick said. “She is very well known out there.”

She has represented the county at numerous local events, and also in Albany and Washington, D.C.

Johnson is the second woman to serve as the Legislature leader. The late Marcia Tuohey of Medina served 10 years as chairwoman, retiring at the end of 2005. Tuohey and Johnson are the only women to serve on the County Legislature since it started about 40 years ago, replacing the Board of Supervisors.

DeFilipps has been a legislator for four years. Eick said he expects DeFilipps will have another chance as chairman in the future. Typically the chairman has been one of the group’s longer-serving legislators, Eick said.

Johnson said she wants to keep pushing for high-speed Internet access throughout the county. “That’s not dead by any means,” she said about the issue.

She will keep advocating for a change in the lake level plan. “That’s not over,” she said. “We’re still 13 inches over normal.”

Johnson said the seven members of the Legislature are all assets and keys to the county government. Draper joined the group after 24 years as Shelby town supervisor.

“We all work hard,” she said. “It’s about seven of us working together.”

The Legislature also picked Don Allport of Gaines to serve as vice chairman, replacing Johnson. Allport received four votes – Allport, Johnson, Eick and Draper – while DeFilipps received three votes – DeFilipps, Ken DeRoller and Fred Miller.

The Legislature also set the compensation for the group for 2018, giving 2 percent raises. The chairwoman will be paid $17,777, while the vice chairman receives $13,442 and the other five legislators are each paid $11,850.

Don Allport, third from left, was picked to serve as the Legislature’s vice chairman. Others pictured include, from left: Legislator Bill Eick, Legislator John DeFilipps and County Attorney David Schubel.

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