Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Bernie Bassett says making contacts is key to getting his constituents what they want.
As the economic crisis wreaked havoc across the country, Bernie Bassett gathered his department heads.
“I told them we were going through a storm and we’re going to have to trim and be conservative, but we were not going to stop and wait,” said the supervisor of the Town of Plattsburgh. “When all is said and done, we will be out ahead. I’m really proud of what we’ve done.”
Jobs continue to be created within the Town of Plattsburgh, which works hard to provide services, Bassett said.
“We just spent a lot of money on paving roads.”
Bassett spent a career in education, working as a teacher and retiring as a school administrator.
When he retired in July of 2004, he began his campaign for the Assembly.
“I really hadn’t made a decision to get into politics,” Bassett said. “I had friends help me to decide that was what I was going to do.”
The thought of it actually made him slightly uncomfortable.
“But I felt I could do it, though I didn’t know what I was getting into,” Bassett said. “But as of this date I don’t regret any of it.”
When the television shut off election night the race, which he lost, was tied.
Bassett ran for town council in 2005, stepped into office in 2006 and almost immediately found himself appointed supervisor when the previous individual in the position stepped down.
He ran for that office in 2006, won, and ran unopposed after that four-year term was up.
“No elected office should be a two-year term,” Bassett said. “You really never have time to get away from the race, and you need to be thinking about doing the job.
“A lot of people don’t understand what it is about and how it works,” he continued. “I don’t think I’ve worked as hard in my life.”
Unless there is a meeting or event, he is in the office from 8 to 5, meetings at least three nights a week and there are always weekend events.
“But it truly is a labor of love,” Bassett said. “You have to enjoy and believe in what you are doing.”
Being known is important, he said. The more contacts he has, the more he can do for his community.
“I immediately got involved in all levels of government,” Bassett said. “It is important to know people and build relationships.”
But his personal life pays the price and family life changes. It’s nearly impossible for Bassett to go somewhere without someone approaching him, and not everyone is happy when they do.
“You do become the position, even at the grocery store.”
Many people, who saw him as one of the people when he ran for office, changed their attitude once he was elected.
He considers a short term and long term thinker.
He’s made decisions in town concerning consolidations that have irritated people in the short term, but in the long term are fiscally sound.
“Many days my mantra is to be firm, fair and consistent.”
His constituents need him to lead and make good decisions in the short term that will bring benefits in the long term.
“Everyone who has an elected office, hopefully wants to be re-elected,” Bassett said. “So they have to have the best interest of the public in mind.”