The committee of the Ulster County Legislature is where the work usually gets done, so the structuring of the committees and the appointment of their members by the 2022 legislative chair, in this case Tracey Bartels, is being closely watched as a major indicator of what the legislature intends to accomplish.
According to a legislative press release issued this past Friday, there will be seven standing committees this year. Each is chaired by a Democrat with previous legislative experience. Each has a Republican deputy chair.
Bartels said she has deliberated on her assignments very carefully and has consulted widely on her choices. Here are the committees for 2022, with the names of the chair and deputy chair for each:
Ways and Means. John Gavaris, Ken Ronk.
Considered the legislature’s most important committee, Ways and Means deals with all budgetary and financial matters, reviewing many county contracts and approving all resolutions with financial impacts except those pertaining to legislative advertising expenses. Gavaris continues as chair.
A few days ago, chair Tracey Bartels appointed a special committee headed by legislator Peter Criswell to examine how the $36-million American Rescue Plan funds the county has received or will get should be allocated in order to “… lay the foundation for a strong and equitable recovery.”
Laws, Rules, and Government Services. Jonathan Heppner, Kevin Roberts.
This committee sets policy and review many contracts that Ways and Means does not, oversees legislative policy and charter revisions, maintains the legislative rules, and considers late resolutions.
Economic Development, Planning, Education, Employment, Arts and Agriculture. Brian Cahill, Herb Litts.
“For the first time in more than 20 years, Ulster County farmers, agriculture, and agri-businesses will be a central focus in Economic Development,” said Cahill. “I’m eagerly anticipating a full agenda that includes not only agriculture but also arts and education. I firmly believe these sectors are vital to our long-term economic development and the prosperity of all who live and work in Ulster County.”
Energy, Environment and Sustainability. Manna Jo Greene, Gina Hansut.
Greene is the acknowledged expert in the legislature on matters pertaining to environmental and energy issues, Hansut a freshman legislator.
Health, Human Services and Housing. Eve Walter, Craig Lopez.
“The past two years magnified the challenges we face in our county around mental health, substance abuse, public-health response, and housing health,” said Walter. “I look forward to addressing each of these issues and developing strong policies to make ours a healthier county.”
Law Enforcement and Public Safety. Abe Uchitelle, Gina Hansut.
“Much work still needs to be done to make law enforcement more equitable for our communities, including enhancing our restorative justice program and improving our county’s probation process.” Uchitelle said. “The coming year also marks a critical opportunity to overhaul our county’s emergency response infrastructure as we work to keep our residents safe at all times.”
Public Works, Capital Projects and Transportation. Laura Petit, Dean Fabiano.
“The new committee structure streamlines the work of the legislature,” said Petit. “I look forward to focusing on the county’s infrastructure needs and working on existing and new capital projects.”