Names Already Being Tossed Around for County Exec Position in 2014 Race

Although Election Day 2013 is less than a month old, the race that undoubtedly will be the most magnified next year in Putnam County is already taking shape.

With the Putnam County Executive office up for grabs next election, the names of potential candidates are already beginning to come up, even if some are more concrete than others. And while only one candidate, incumbent county executive MaryEllen Odell has confirmed she’s running to continue to serve, others are certainly weighing there options.

In an interview last Thursday, District 2 Legislator Sam Olivirio said he’s “85 percent” certain he’s going to run for county executive next year. For more than a month Oliverio, the sole Democrat on the Putnam County Legislature has stated he’s strongly considering a county executive bid.

He took another step in that direction, when in a press release, Oliverio announced he’s putting together an exploratory committee to look, investigate, and formulate a focused run for county executive.

After meeting with the Executive Board of the Putnam County Democrats Committee, and now meeting with every individual town committee, Oliverio said in the release that now is the time to form the exploratory committee.

In a statement, Oliverio said the county is in the “midst of a terrible maelstrom.”

“Between the troubles in our DA’s Office, the ongoing and constant discord within our Legislature, the lack of governmental concern for our needy and disabled citizens and the seemingly ‘let them eat cake’ mentality of our Executive Office,” according to Oliverio in a statement. “It is absolutely time for a new direction in the Putnam County Government.”

Oliverio, who has been on the legislature for 18 years, many of which as the only Democrat touted his ability to spearhead numerous initiatives and health and safety measures for residents.

While Oliverio is the only Democrat on the legislature, he might not be the only Democrat vying for a chance at county executive.

When reached Friday afternoon, Lisa Denig of Carmel confirmed she also is considering a run at Odell’s spot. Denig is the former chief of staff of former for former county executive Robert Bondi and currently works as an attorney for the Westchester District Attorney’s Office.

Denig said she’s weighing a possible run after some members of various Democratic committees reached out to her about the county executive position.

“What I would like to do is bring some integrity back to Putnam County government,” Denig said would her reasoning if she chose to run.

She added she would like to see a “grander vision for Putnam County.”

“And I don’t believe any people that are interested in the current position have a bigger vision for the county other than the same old issues that are constantly discussed,” she said.

Denig noted that she has received support from both Democrats and Republicans because she has worked with both for a lengthy amount of time. Denig worked with Bondi, a Republican and also worked for former state senator and Republican Vincent Leibell from 2001-2006 as his communication director.

Denig said she’d probably come to a decision at some point following the New Year in January.

While Oliverio said he would be willing to enter into a primary race against a fellow Democrat, Denig said she wasn’t sure if she’d do that.

When reached on Thursday, Odell said she “absolutely will seek to run for a full term.” She also said she welcomes “any sort of challenge.”

Odell was elected in a special election when county executive-elect Leibell stepped down before he served a single day. Leibell eventually was charged and convicted on corruption charges.

Odell is the county’s fifth county executive and first woman to serve the office. Since she’s been in charge, Odell said she kept taxes low and pushed economic growth.

“We’ll run on our record,” Odell said. “And, again, our record is we kept our promises.”

Odell said seeing what the county has been able to do in her two years in office, she wants to continue to progress with a full term.

“Collaborating with the legislature, and developing partnerships with the business community,” Odell said. “We have received nothing but positive input from the community. The people out there know we’ve done a good job.”

And while no clear cut Republican has announced their intention to run against her, one name that continues to be tossed around is current State Senator Greg Ball, who lives in Patterson.

When reached Friday, Ball’s communication director Joe Bachmeier addressed the rumors by stating Ball is focused on the current task at hand as a state senator.

“Just like earlier speculation that Senator Ball would run for Congress, he appreciates those in the community who would support such an effort but remains entirely committed to delivering for the taxpayers, seniors, veterans and small business owners throughout his current Senate district for the remainder of his term. As for reelection to his current position, or election to a new position, the Senator will make a decision after the passage of the next New York State Budget and the completion of this Legislative Session. Until that point he will continue to work with all federal, state and local elected officials in a bipartisan and effective way to deliver for the people in his district and beyond.”  Bachmeier said in an email.