By REBECCA WEBSTER
Recorder News Staff
Third Ward Alderwoman Gina DeRossi announced Thursday that she will not seek re-election for a third term on the city of Amsterdam Common Council.
"I have a lot of things going on in my personal life that I feel need to take priority at this point. By the end of this term I will have been in elected office for 7 1/2 years, so certainly I enjoy politics," she said, referring to her years on both the council and the school board. "I'm still young so I probably will be back at some point, but I felt that I needed to put my priorities elsewhere for a few years at this point to best serve my own interest and the interest of my own ward."
DeRossi will have represented the city's Third Ward for four years upon her departure date of Dec. 31. During that time, she said, she's learned a lot, including the idea that nothing is accomplished alone.
"You need support from your council. You need support from the others. I wouldn't take personal credit for anything because I think the things that we have done are really kind of joint decisions. If you don't have the support, you're only one vote and you're not going to get it done," she said.
The council has certainly made progress during her time, DeRossi said, on things like the road work in the city and work on the creek. She said she also watched the city come together and the council make tough decisions when flooding tore through the area in 2011.
"I feel that certainly a lot of progress has been made since then," she said.
Other accomplishments of the council she called out was in relation to keeping to the tax caps, fixing the water rates to make them fair for constituents, and keeping an eye on retirees.
But one of her favorite parts of the job, and one she will miss the most, is being able to help her constituents.
"I get calls and I can't help every single one of them because not everything is up to me but certainly sometimes the smallest little thing can mean the world to someone and it's nice to make that difference," she said.
Moments after hearing DeRossi would not seek reelection, Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane said she was "very disappointed" to know she won't be able to work with her as an alderwoman anymore.
"She has just been so wonderful on the council," Thane said. "She has been level-headed. She has done her homework. She brings balance and respect to the process and she will be greatly missed."
Thane said DeRossi is an able steward of her ward, but also makes an effort to look at the entire city.
"She has worked in a nonpartisan fashion which I think is hugely important in this time in the city," Thane said. "She weighs each issue with great thoughtfulness and passion."
Montgomery County Republican Chair Joseph Emanuele said Thursday evening that he was surprised to hear DeRossi wouldn't seek reelection.
"The news was a little bit of a shock to me because Gina has been very dedicated and committed to the city and the betterment of the city," Emanuele said. "She's going to be missed in that position."
Emanuele said he understands her willingness to take a break from the political scene, but thinks she will come back at some point.
As for the open seat on the council, Emanuele said the committee has been working to fill not only her seat, but the nearly 80 positions that will be up for grabs countywide this year.
"We're hoping that every position has a qualified and dedicated person to fit the bill," he said.
But DeRossi's term isn't over yet. She said she has until the end of the year to continue to serve the community and her main concern right now is getting the 2013-2014 budget passed. Once that's finished, other important decisions will arise, like what will happen with Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course and the GAVAC contract, she said.
When it is time to leave the council, she said she will continue to be an active member of the Republican Party and do what she can, when she can.
"I've been very grateful to work with my fellow council members and the mayor and I definitely have a lot of respect for anyone who serves in office. It is a large commitment," she said. "I've enjoyed working with them. I've learned a lot from them. They've frustrated me at times, but that's all a part of the process. I definitely appreciate them and have really enjoyed working with all of them."
Montgomery County Democratic Chair Bethany Schumann-McGhee did not return calls to the Recorder.