Lynne Johnson gets unanimous support to stay as Legislature chairwoman

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 January 2022 at 11:18 am

2 new legislators – John Fitzak and Ed Morgan – start their terms

Photos by Tom Rivers: Orleans County Clerk Nadine Hanlon, back to camera, administers the oath of office to the seven Orleans County legislators on Wednesday. Pictured from left include Bill Eick, Ed Morgan, Lynne Johnson, Don Allport, Fred Miller, John Fitzak and Skip Draper.

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature will continue to be led by Lynne Johnson of Lyndonville.

The owner of an accounting business was unanimously picked by the other legislators to remain as chairwoman. She has been in the role the past four years and was backed for another two-year term.

Lynne Johnson of Lyndonville was picked by her colleagues on the Legislature to remain their leader. She has been chairwoman the past four years and was backed for another two-year term. She was re-elected by voters in November for a district that includes Yates, Ridgeway and small part of Shelby.

She has been a county legislator for 14 years.

Fred Miller, the only Democrat on the seven-member board, said Johnson serves the county well in the role.

“I’m happy with what she’s doing,” Miller said.

Johnson had the added responsibility of serving as interim chief administrative officer for over three months in between when Chuck Nesbitt left for a different job and Jack Welch started in March 2020.

Johnson also represents the county in weekly phone calls with an 11-county Finger Lakes group working on responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Johnson, Welch and Public Health Director Paul Pettit represent Orleans in those discussions.

Legislator Skip Draper said Johnson is an effective advocate for the county, pressing for more resources, whether vaccines, Covid tests or other funding.

“She’s done an outstanding job since she has been chair,” Draper said.

He praised her for pushing through important projects, including needed infrastructure, especially a wireless broadband expansion that has been a decade in the works.

Johnson said the Legislature is a great team. Bill Eick is the vice chairman and he has stepped up even more since he retired as a plant operator at Western New York Energy.

“I’m honored to continue as chairman of the Legislature and intend to lead our efforts on moving our community forward from the pandemic, even as we must continue to deal with new strains of the virus,” Johnson said. “We must rebuild and expand our economy and provide services to those in need. The key is to work together within the Legislature and with our partners outside county government to make the best uses of our resources.”

Johnson assigned legislators to the following committees:

  • Public Safety (Sheriff, Emergency Management, District Attorney, Public Defender, Probation and Courts) – Draper, Allport and Johnson
  • Health (Mental Health, Public Health) – Allport, Miller and Johnson
  • Highway (Department of Public Works) – Eick, Morgan and Johnson
  • Home & Community Services (Planning & Development, Tourism, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Soil & Water Conservation District, Historian) – Eick, Morgan and Johnson
  • Economic Assistance & Opportunity (Social Services, Office for the Aging, Veterans, Youth Bureau, Elections, and Job Development Agency) – Miller, Fitzak and Johnson
  • Administration & Finance (County Clerk, Real Property Tax Services, Computer Services, Employee Assistance Program, Personnel & Self Insurance, Treasurer, County Attorney, and Economic Development Agency) – Draper, Fitzak and Johnson
  • Legislative (Chief Administrative Officer, Clerk of the Legislature, Fire Advisory Board, Off-Track Betting Corp., and Safety Committee) – Eick and Johnson

“You have a lot of work in front of you,” Johnson said after announcing the committee assignments.

Bill Eick signs the oath which was administered by County Clerk Nadine Hanlon. He represents a district that includes most of Shelby and towns of Barre and Clarendon. Eick was picked to serve as the Legislature’s vice chairman. He is a retired dairy farmer who then worked 10 years as an operator at Western New York Energy’s ethanol plant.

Ed Morgan signs the oath of office while his wife Dorothy is next to him. Morgan is retired as Murray’s highway superintendent. He serves in an at-large position which is countywide.

Don Allport signs the oath. He is also an at-large legislator, covering the entire county. There are three at-large legislators, one who lives in the east side of the county (Ed Morgan), one from central (Allport), and one from the western side (Skip Draper).

Fred Miller, a retired hardware store owner in Albion, signs the oath. His district includes the towns of Albion and Gaines. Miller is the lone Democrat on the Legislature. He previously served as an Albion village trustee.

Skip Draper signs the oath. He is the Orleans County Republican Party chairman and former Shelby town supervisor.

John Fitzak signs the oath. He is joined by his sons, Alex (left) and Nick. Fitzak will retire in May as a corrections officer at the Orleans Correctional Facility. He also has owned the Albion Redemption Center the past 19 years and is working to put in fuel and marina services at the site to serve boaters along the Erie Canal. Fitzak also served five years on the Carlton Town Board.