Besio for District 3

Style-wise, Mark Besio is salt to Gordy Crossman’s sugar.We sat down for interviews with both of the candidates for Franklin County’s legislator from District 3 – the county’s center, consisting of the towns of Brighton, Duane, Bangor and half of Malone – and while we’re not sure whether either is the balanced diet their constituents might want ideally, we’ve tasted the sugar during Crossman’s decade in office and now we’re ready to switch to salt.

This is a gamble, we admit. Mr. Besio has never run for elected office before and has no community volunteerism to speak of, whereas Mr. Crossman has done a great deal of both. Mr. Besio does, however, have relevant experience running a business and working for the town of Malone, running its airport and as clerk of its highway department. He also seems fired up to make some changes we’d like to see.

Mr. Crossman would be a safe bet. We could expect him to keep being kind, gentle, friendly and optimistic, but also to be a follower rather than a leader and to pay little attention to Brighton, which is the town in his district the Enterprise covers.

Granted, Brighton residents apparently haven’t been very demanding of their county rep. Also, Mr. Crossman speaks warmly of looking past regional rivalries; what’s good for one town is good for all, he says.

That’s a nice sentiment, but he could still check in with Brighton people and institutions more often. Not only might he be inspired – Paul Smith’s College is an economic driver in ways other parts of the county could benefit from – but he might be reminded that Brighton contributes a very outsized portion of the county’s property taxes. Its townspeople deserve more fiscal responsibility than they’ve seen of late.

We understand that much of the budget strain is due to unfunded state mandates and a weak economy – factors that are mostly out of legislators’ hands. But legislators did, in the first half of this year, give $1.4 million to a private company to run a natural gas pipeline into the north end of the county while, in May, borrowing $4 million just to pay the county’s bills. That’s irresponsible, and the people who are paying more for the pipeline and not getting any of its natural gas should be outraged.

Mr. Crossman, who lives in Malone, says everyone will benefit from the pipeline, but we don’t think that’s true.

Mr. Besio, meanwhile, is outraged about the pipeline, even though he also lives in Malone. That goes far toward winning our vote.

Mr. Crossman is a big-hearted guy who sympathizes with everyone: county workers, taxpayers and recipients of county services. Making decisions between those obviously pains him.

He is not the person who is going to solve the county’s budget woes. He was unable to give us any idea of what the county must do next, other than to keep hanging in there.

“We’re trying to walk on a knife, almost,” he said. “We’re trying to provide services for the least amount of money.”

Mr. Crossman has grown comfortable with his fellow legislators over the years – he called them his friends – whereas Mr. Besio is blunt and seems much less likely to make friends on the board. He wants to join it to shake it up.

At this point, we’re ready for that. Some may consider it reckless, but we see it as less so than the pipeline decision.

For most community roles, we’d be more likely to pick someone like Mr. Crossman over someone like Mr. Besio, but for this job, at this time, we’ll take a chance on the salt.