New Cortland County Legislative Chairman has goals, objectives in mind for the county

Kevin Fitch. (Photo Source: Kevin L. Smith/The Cortland Voice).

The new Cortland County Legislative Chairman has goals and accomplishments in mind to create a team dynamic between legislators and to provide more services to municipalities in the county.

Kevin Fitch (R-LD-8), who replaced former county legislative chair Paul Heider (R-LD-16) in January, was born and raised in the village of McGraw. 

After serving six years in the military, Fitch moved to the town of Scott with his wife, Cherie. Fitch has lived in Scott for 25 years, where he and his wife raised their children Joel and Jackie.

Fitch has worked at Cornell University for 30 years. He started out in a research position, then eventually moved on to environmental health and safety where he does radiation safety for the university.

He served as Scott’s town supervisor from 2010 to 2020 before he moved up as a county legislator. A legislator for the past two years in the eighth district, Fitch covers the towns of Preble, Scott and Homer.

Now, Fitch takes on the highest position in the county legislative circle.

“The honeymoon is over when it comes to this,” he said. “There is work to be done.”

One of the bigger tasks that Fitch is looking to accomplish is to establish “teamwork effort” within the groups of county legislators.

“In the two years I’ve been a legislator, it doesn’t seem like a team dynamic,” he added.

Fitch wants to see county legislators and others “come together and really work as a team.”

“I want to get department heads, legislators and employees to have more of a team effort and get some ownership in the county,” he added.

An objective to create that team dynamic could come from Cornell University, Fitch said. He noted that there is a division of human resources at the university that provides team-building workshops.

“They contract out (the workshops),” Fitch said. “I’m going to them, and they work. I think that’s what (the county legislators) need to do.”

Another goal that Fitch is looking to achieve is sharing services with municipalities, including the city of Cortland, within Cortland County.

“I really want to work with the city to get industries back in here,” he said. Fitch noted at one point the city “used to be really good at industry.” He referred to the former Brockway Motor Company and Wilson’s Sporting Goods, Co., which both closed their doors between the late 1970s and early 1980s.

“Now it’s just gone,” Fitch added. “There’s been interest from industries to come in (to the county), but there is no workforce for them to drop off on.”

Fitch noted recently that the Cortland County Business Development Corporation and the Industrial Development Agency have been talking with industries to “see what skill sets they need for them to come here.”

It prompted the county to start a workforce development program, which Fitch said county legislators are “trying to push forward.” The county is dedicating $750,000 from its American Rescue Plan Act Funds to the program, he added. 

“If we can get that implemented and get our people trained here, we can bring jobs in,” Fitch said. He added that the county will be using metrics from Tompkins Cortland Community College for the program.

A month has passed since Fitch was selected as the new county legislative chair, a decision that he honors.

“If I feel that I’m not effective in this position then I think another person needs to come forward,” he said. “My chair is being taken seriously, and I’m here to do a good job for the community.”