Former village of Marathon mayor announces run for County Legislature seat

Former village of Marathon mayor Bill McGovern, center, speaks at a Board of Trustees meeting in 2021. (Photo Source: Kevin L. Smith of The Cortland Voice).

Former Village of Marathon Mayor Bill McGovern is running to represent the Cortland County Legislature’s 15th district, officially making the announcement at last week’s village and town of Marathon board meetings.

McGovern, who told The Cortland Voice on Sunday he will be running under the Republican Party line, works in management at Square Deal Machining and has extensive experience in public office. 

He served on the village board of trustees for 21 years and was the mayor for another six. McGovern resigned from his position as mayor in the fall of 2021.

McGovern is the first candidate to officially announce he will be contesting a legislature seat come November. The 15th Legislative District is currently represented by Legislative Majority Leader George Wagner (R), who has represented the area for close to 10 years.

McGovern, who is part of the Cortland County Republican Committee team that vets candidates, said he has known Wagner for years.

“I’m not gonna say anything negative about him,” McGovern said. “I love the guy. I wasn’t the one really pursuing running for legislator. It pursued me.”

The longtime Marathon Republican said he has been asked by community members to run for the legislative seat. He also noted his name has come up in conversations with other members of the County’s Republican Party in January.

“We were discussing all the positions, towns, villages and everything,” he said.

McGovern said he wasn’t sure at the time because he wanted to gain support from his supervisor at work.

“There are times where you’re going to be away from work during the day because you have committee meetings,” McGovern added. “He was very supportive.”

His time in public office, McGovern said, has been marked in part by the time he has spent attending County Legislature meetings. If elected, he hopes to draw on his knowledge of county government.

“I attended just about every one of those meetings up until the point things changed with COVID-19,” McGovern noted. “I saw how much the legislature affects the communities, the municipalities within the county, and I thought it was very important that I stay in touch with them and tune into what they’re doing.” 

As part of his experience, McGovern was appointed to the County Legislature’s Redistricting Commission’s Citizens Advisory Committee last year to provide input on the process. The county is considering lowering the number of legislators down from 17 to 15 by 2027.

“My priority there was to keep Marathon whole, and keep the district whole,” he said.

Although he believes some legislators see their job as more of an at-large position, having to represent the county as a whole, McGovern said he wants to focus on representing the town and village of Marathon, as well as the town of Lapeer. 

“I feel that they need that representation,” he added. “I need to take what the county is doing and take that to my constituents so they’re aware, and so that I can represent them and their opinions and what direction they want to go.”

For McGovern, taking those positions are what he described as the difference between a politician versus an elected official.

“I’m not a politician. I’m an elected official,” he said. “I’m here for you, to represent what we need to do for the community. A politician represents themselves and does what they want, and what they feel they need. I see a distinct difference in that.”

McGovern has already garnered some support.

“I appreciate you stepping up and running for the position,” said Mayor Scott Chamberlin at the Village of Marathon Board of Trustees meeting this past Wednesday. “I will support you and I am happy to do so.”