Democrats took four of six contested Cortland County Legislature seats in the Nov. 7, general election. Going into 2024, the Legislature will have a 9-8 Republican majority.
“I think this is going to be the exact same as what we're seeing now,” said Legislature Chairman Kevin Fitch (R-Homer, Preble, Scott). “When they say that the Republicans hold the majority, we've always tried to work with each other. So, I really don't see anything changing. The only thing I do say is having new people coming on the Legislature, we should be able to embrace what they bring.”
“I’m very glad, tonight it looks like we picked up the seat with Dom Mantella in LD-6, which is great,” said Legislature Minority Leader Beau Harbin (D-Cortland). “We flipped that seat that was held by Dick Stock …We had a lot of great candidates this season. So, I’m really looking forward to being able to move things forward at the county level.”
DISTRICT 2 - CORTLAND
Minority Leader Beau Harbin, an incumbent Democrat first elected in 2017, won against Republican and Conservative nominee Thomas Larson by a tally of 118-89.
Before moving to Cortland County, Larson worked at the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Brandywine Conservancy, one of the largest land trusts in the U.S. After moving to the state, he worked as executive director for the state Agricultural Land Trust.
Harbin is chair of the legislature’s Agriculture, Planning and Environment Committee, and serves on the Buildings and Grounds Committee and Finance and Administration Committee. He’s also a member of Cornell Cooperative Extension board of directors, the Cortland County Planning Board and the Southern Tier East Regional Planning Development Board.
DISTRICT 5 - CORTLAND
Incumbent Democrat Susan Wilson, first elected in 2019, won against Republican Laura Dunbar by a tally of 238-151.
Wilson serves on the Agriculture, Planning and Environment Committee, Government Operations Committee and the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee. She also serves on the Seven Valleys Health Coalition board and the county Soil and Water Conservation District board of directors.
Dunbar serves on the Cortland Auxiliary Services board of directors and the Advisory Council for SUNY Cortland’s Institute for Civic Engagement.
DISTRICT 6 - CORTLAND
Incumbent Republican Richard Stock, elected in 2019, lost to Democrat Dominick Mantella by a tally of 99-155..
Stock chairs the legislature’s Government Operations Committee, and serves on the Health and Human Services Committee and Finance and Administration Committee. He is also the president of the Cortland Community Center and a commissioner on the city of Cortland’s Historic and Architectural Advisory Board.
Mantella, a physics professor at SUNY Cortland and owner of Dragon Solar, which designs and engineers solar energy systems for homes and businesses, did not respond to questions.
DISTRICT 7 - CORTLAND
Democrat Donald Chu lost to Republican and Conservative Keith VanGorder by a tally of 210-250 for a seat being vacated by Ann Homer, a Democrat.
VanGorder served on the Cortland County Planning Board for 14 years, including as its vice chair. He also serves on the city of Cortland’s advisory committees for the Department of Public Works, Public Safety and Water Board.
Chu has served on the Cortland Enlarged City School District Board of Education for four years and serves on the city’s Environmental Advisory Committee.
DISTRICT 9 - HOMER
Incumbent Republican Linda Jones, who took office in 2014, won against Brian Horan, nominated by the Democratic and Voice for Homer parties, by a tally of 309-208.
Horan served in the U.S. military from 1990 to 1995. When he lived in Freeville in the early 2000s, Horan served on the village’s zoning and planning boards.
Jones serves on the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District board of directors, the legislature’s Highway and Finance and Administration committees and chairs the Dwyer Memorial Park Citizens Advisory Committee.
DISTRICT 10 - HOMER
Republican Brian Phillips lost to Reed Cleland, nominated by the Democratic and Voice for Homer parties, by a tally of 319-374 for a seat being vacated by Kelly Fairchild Preston, a Republican.
Cleland serves as program director for the Homer High School Shakespearean Society. Cleland has also interned with former Clerk of the Legislature Eric Mulvihill, and worked for former Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin’s office.
Phillips owns two businesses: Phillips Landscaping and Hi-Lanes Bowling, which he’s operated for 14 years. He’s also driven school buses for 14 years.