WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Jefferson County’s Chairman will step down at the end of this year.
Jefferson County Chairman Scott Gray has confirmed that he will resign at the end of 2021. Gray has served three terms, for a total of six years as the county’s chairman, making him the longest-serving Chairman in Jefferson County.
He said during the six years, the learning lessons have been endless. During this time, Gray has faced what are considered many “unprecedented challenges.” This started in 2017 with flooding along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, which repeated itself in 2019.
‘That’s all been a challenge, to try to mitigate the damage that was done,” Gray said. “We got a tremendous response working with the state and of course we were able to secure a lot of the REDI commission funding.”
Then in early 2020, when the COVID-19 hit the North Country, Gray continued to serve. He said the pandemic was a turning point for his role.
“[COVID] has really taken this job from a part-time job to essentially making it a full-time commitment,” the Chairman expressed. “Especially when we were in the height of the pandemic, it was extremely busy.”
Nearly two years later, the county continues to face obstacles brought on by the pandemic. Challenges that Gray said made his job difficult at times. This included recovering the local economy and implementing public health issues strategies, but especially, he said, the “politics of COVID.”
“The fact that it is highly politicized is made it just that much more difficult and it is becoming strictly a 50/50 issue,” Gray said. “Half the people are not going to be satisfied and half the people are going to say ‘why don’t you be more aggressive in terms of fighting the virus.'”
Considering all of these challenges, issues on the Board of Legislators and the length he has served as Chairman, Gray said “it’s time for someone else.”
“There’s been some very contentious issues and I think I’m a person that’s always been focused on a solution and for the betterment of the organization, and for our move forward and to try to accomplish things, it’s probably best left to somebody else to lead the organization,” Chairman Gray shared.
Gray said that after his resignation he plans to continue to work in local politics. He said he hopes the Jefferson County Board of Legislators continues to “govern for the people.”
“You have to forget a political prism when you’re making decisions.,” Gray said. “You have to make a decision that’s in the best interest of the majority of the people, understanding everybody won’t be happy, but you have to go forward and you have to make decisions that are best for the greater good of the public.”
Succeeding Gray in his role as Jefferson County Chairman will be District 3 County Legislator Philip N. Reed, Sr. Legislator Reed has served on Gray’s executive committee for all six years. Chairman Gray’s resignation will take effect in 2022 on January 1.