RAYBROOK - Art Lussi's chances of remaining on the Adirondack Park Agency Board of Commissioners are looking up.
The nomination of Lussi's potential replacement, Minerva boat-builder Peter Hornbeck, appears to be dead - and with the coming GOP takeover of the state Senate, the Lake Placid hotelier hopes he can secure another four-year term on the agency board.
"To be honest, I'm not lobbying hard in Albany or around the world to retain my seat," he said. "I just do it because I hope I'm respected and appreciated for what I do and what I stand for."
The pro-business commissioner enjoys the support of Republican state Senator Betty Little and the vast majority of local government officials. Some of Lussi's votes as commissioner have raised the ire of green groups who would like to seem him replaced.
Before his term expired last year, Lussi changed parties and registered as a Democrat in order to better his chances of keeping his seat. Lussi remained on the board as a heated battle ensured in Albany over his potential replacement.
"That was a good move since we did get a Democratic governor elected," he said. "Some friends of mine from Saranac Lake suggested it would be a good way to show my interest in staying on as a commissioner."
For his part, Hornbeck told North Country Public Radio last week that his appointment may be in real trouble.
"As far as I know it's still alive," he told NCPR Adirondack Bureau Chief Brian Mann. "I don't know the mechanics of things, but I haven't been given any indication otherwise. It does look a little grim at this point because of the future Republican majority in the Senate."
Several commissioners' terms are nearing expiration, including that of APA Chairman Curt Stiles. Stiles's term expires in June of 2011, while in-park Commissioner Frank Thomas and out-park Commissioner Cecil Wray are also serving under expired terms.
Even as a member of the minority, Little managed to torpedo Hornbeck's bid to serve on the APA board.
Once in office, Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo can nominate whoever he wants for the coveted in-park APA seats - but the appointments must survive Senate confirmation.
Hornbeck says he hasn't heard from anyone on Cuomo's transition team.
"Nothing," he said. "I've been here. I've put calls into people in the governor's office and other individuals and I haven't heard anything back; I'm still waiting. I wish I could tell you more."
Hornbeck says that his environmental advocacy has unfairly come under attack.
"My side of the argument is, yes, I'm an environmental but I'm also a business person," he said. "If this whole process has taught me anything, it's that there is a real relationship between the environment and the economy in the Adirondacks. The environment is the most positive thing that we have here - it's the thing that attracts people here and it's the physical and monetary advantage that we have over other places. There's a real connection between business and the environment, and I think a lot of people don't make that connection. The two sides should find some common ground and work together; it's to everybody's benefit."
Hornbeck says he did have a chance to talk to state Senator Little face-to-face about her concerns.
"To her credit, I have talked to her extensively and expressed my views and engaged in give and take with her," he said. "I appreciate her listening to me. I don't have a problem with her; it's a matter of education for people and we just need to start thinking a little differently."
Art Lussi says he has not actively lobbied for his reappointment.
But he did note that he may contact Cuomo's transition team and reiterate his desire to continue serving on the agency board.
The GOP Senate takeover could affect several pending APA appointments, aside from the chairman.