This year started off like any other but things quickly spiraled when a pandemic has changed the way we live our lives, economic hardships and social injustices striking a nation. As we look ahead into the new year, Oneida County Executive, Anthony Picente, says he is hoping to get back to some sense of normalcy in the new year.
“Get kids back into school, get businesses back operating and restaurants. You know we’ve got great challenges ahead. The hope for 2021 has got to be better. Our hope going into 2020 was so promising for everybody, so much happening in the community and growth.” —Picente
Back in early March, when Picente and Mayor Robert Palmieri announced the cancellation of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, he did not think then we would be where we are now, “To have to announce you know a major event like that, that couldn’t take place was big in it of itself. But then what followed it, it just became even more alarming and scary and just more serious.”
As we learned more about the virus and pieces kept unfolding, the county executive held briefings daily to keep the public informed.
“You know when I went out there am I saying enough? Am I giving people enough comfort at the same time by giving them such bad news? Announcing deaths, which is not something that is normally reserved for this office and in any kind of regard was emotional and hard and difficult.”
But as the weather got warmer and the numbers started to decrease, the death of George Floyd hit a nerve that resulted in violent protests across the nation. However, Picente says, “The good news was that we didn’t have violent protests here.”
He also had a health concern because large groups gathered to protests, “Are people going to be safe? Are they doing it right? Even though the weather is warm and our numbers are down, what were we going to see? I commend the community. I commend our law enforcement as well that did a great job.”
Although the pandemic has caused a major economic hardship on the community, Picente is pleased to see projects like Cree and the new hospital still in the works.
“You know kept people working which was also important. I mean could you think of a better time to build a new hospital?
Picente says he is proud of how his team has handled all the challenges that came with this virus and he has an optimistic view for 2021.
“I’m always the half full glass guy, not half empty and even more so. And in my role I need to be optimistic, that’s part of my job to move this place forward and ill continue to do that. I hope it’s a new dawn in 2021 and we can get the vaccine out as best and as quickly as humanly possible by working together.”