By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO April 22, 2003 Geographically, Sullivan County is the same size as Rhode Island: about 1,000 square miles. The county consists of 15 towns, six villages, and eight school districts. Representing all of that space and its people are nine county legislators.
While being a legislator is technically a part-time job, their schedules can get very hectic. To help manage that, they have three hardworking people who have come to be known as the Legislative Ladies.
Legislative Clerk AnnMarie Martin, Deputy Clerk Deniese Harting, and Legislative Employee Michelle Huck run the day-to-day operations of the office. They answer phones, type up memos and agendas and minutes, create the county directory each year, publish a yearly journal of proceedings of all resolutions and laws that were passed by the Legislature and help the legislators manage their busy schedules. In addition, the ladies make sure all birthdays and special occasions are marked with a card and a cake.
The Legislature meets the first three Thursdays of each month, of which the first two Thursdays are for committee meetings, which start at 9 a.m. and can go as late as 4 p.m. Tuesdays, the legislators are usually in to prepare for the upcoming meetings. While the office is always busy, those two days bring it to a different level.
Tuesdays and Thursdays get very crazy, Harting commented. There is a lot more going on those two days. But it is a different thing every day.
We serve all nine legislators, remarked Martin. We are very loyal to them. Things come up we dont expect.
We make sure they are where they need to be, Huck added.
Theres more to the office than just answering phones, typing, and keeping track of schedules. The ladies have to handle incoming and outgoing mail, visitors, and, sometimes, angry or confused citizens looking to talk to their legislator.
Some days, it can get pretty rough. All three say they take the good with the bad, do the best they can, and just try to make the office an enjoyable environment.
For their efforts, the nine legislators continuously sing their praises.
They are an excellent office staff, remarked District 2 Legislator Kathleen LaBuda. All around, they are very efficient and honest.
They are a great support staff, Legislature Chair Leni Binder commented. They are great ladies. They are courteous and always keep their tempers in check. They are a pleasure to work with. They care about what they do.
They are great to deal with, offered District 5 Legislator Rodney Gaebel. They handle all the issues without a hitch. They make the office run smoothly. They are excellent employees. We are fortunate to have them.
They are wonderful, District 3 Legislator Greg Goldstein said. Whatever we ask for, they are there. They are nice to the public, and they represent the Legislature well.
Martin has the most experience of the three, having worked for the county for 15 years. Martin has seen service in Community Services, Social Services, and the Legislature. At Legislature, Martin started as the secretary and moved up to Deputy Clerk, becoming Clerk at the end of last year.
I enjoy working with all nine legislators, remarked Martin. Their jobs can be difficult at times, and they are sometimes put in difficult decision-making situations for that I do not envy them but they never let uneasy times affect their working relations with myself, Mrs. Harting, or Ms. Huck.
Harting will have been with the Legislature for three years as of May 1. Like Martin, she also climbed her way up from Legislative Employee to Legislative Secretary, and this year to Deputy Clerk.
We click well as a team, Harting remarked. We are good at calming people down when hectic situations arise. Still, the hardest thing is keeping track of them [the legislators].
Huck is the newest member of the team. She has been with the Legislature one year. Her addition to the team has made it, as the legislators have publicly stated, a smooth, well-oiled machine.
I was happy when I came to work here, Huck recalled. They are all nice and treat me with respect. At first, there was not a lot dumped in my lap. They [the other two ladies] helped me to learn. Now, we work well as a team.