CATSKILL — After more than 12 years at the helm of the county’s Public Safety Committee, Cairo legislator William Lawrence has decided to take a back seat.
Several county departments including the sheriff’s office, probation, public defender and emergency services come under the umbrella of the Public Safety Committee. Many of the important and controversial decisions regarding the new Greene County jail began at the committee’s meetings.
Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, announced at the annual organization meeting Monday that Lawrence would not be staying on as chairman.
Legislator Thomas Hobart, R-Coxsackie, has been named to succeed Lawrence as committee chairman.
“Last year as I started my new term, I asked Chairman Linger if there was another person to appoint,” Lawrence said Tuesday.
Ultimately, Lawrence agreed to continue as chairman to make the transition into the construction phase of the jail smoother, he said.
With the project being carried out on schedule, Lawrence said he believed the timing was right for someone else to take over.
“I think there is a need for a fresh set of eyes,” he said. “I’m burned out by the jail situation. It took a large toll on my time and concentration.”
Linger agreed that the past few years have been taxing.
“The last several years the jail has been consuming a lot of time,” Linger said.
Linger expects the committee will now spend a fair amount of time on issues related to bail reform, he said.
As a correctional officer, Hobart will be a good fit for the position, Lawrence said.
“He will have good insight [into] what a jail needs,” Lawrence said, describing Hobart as the perfect choice.
“He has a lengthy career in corrections,” Linger said, adding that Hobart is no stranger to public safety.
Hobart was happy to accept, Linger said.
Lawrence, a retired chemistry and physics teacher in the Cairo-Durham Central School District, began serving as a county legislator in 1980. He took a brief hiatus to serve as Cairo town supervisor from 1986-1988, and returned to the Legislature in 1993.
In the middle of his 13th term, Lawrence has served on all of the committees throughout his years as legislator and chaired all of the committees except for Finance, he said. He also served as legislature chairman.
“I’m a workaholic,” Lawrence said. “I tend to take on too much at times.”
Without the duties of chairman, Lawrence plans to be committed to other issues, he said.
Lawrence plans to retain his post as the Legislature’s majority leader. In this capacity, Lawrence has a vote in each committee.
“I will devote my time to other issues on other committees,” he said.