Democratic Garrison resident wants to bring ‘fresh perspective’

By Kevin E. Foley

Garrison resident and active Philipstown Democrat Lithgow Osborne has decided to run for the office of Putnam County Clerk. Osborne, expected to formally announce at a Democratic fundraiser on Sunday, June 8, will gather petition signatures to run on the Democratic line. He will run in the November election against the current First Deputy County Clerk, Michael C. Bartolotti, a Republican and career civil servant. Both candidates already have the support of their respective county committees.

Lithgow Osborne
Lithgow Osborne

In Putnam the duties of the County Clerk’s office include the role of registrar or county record keeper as well as clerk of the county courts. Almost any transaction or event connected to the county is recorded and stored with the clerk’s office. The incumbent Clerk, Dennis J. Sant, is retiring after 13 years as clerk and 24 years as first deputy in office.

In an interview with The Paper, Osborne, 55, said he was running because he believes he is well suited to the duties of the office and thinks he could bring some innovative approaches to the way the office served the public.

“I am dogged in my determination to get things right. There’s a great dignity in doing your job correctly,” Osborne said as he described a business career that has included running several businesses either on his own or for others in the related fields of interior design, commercial and residential real estate and high-end antiques dealing. “Every one of those jobs has had something in common. And the commonality was it was a job that required me to do a lot of focused, concentrated research, attention to detail seeing jobs through to the end,” he said.

Asked what he would seek to change in the clerk’s office were he elected, Osborne put technological advancement at the head of the list. “I would focus on the clerk’s presence on the county website. If you try to navigate your way through the website it seems cheery and informative but once you start getting in there, it’s really a mess,” he said. “It seems to be designed without thinking about who’s using the website.”

Osborne argued that the current site creates a layer of confusion and separation between the government and the taxpayer, which he would seek to dissolve by making much more information available digitally.

“If you cannot use a computer and find things you need in the same day, there’s a problem,” he said. Emphasizing best practices for website design and operation he noted: “The best websites lead you intuitively to find what you need.”

To support businesses in particular Osborne said he would look to create far more opportunity to file needed paperwork directly online, which he observed is the case in Westchester County. He said requiring use of regular mail or faxes created obstacles in today’s business environment.

To further engage the public and assist businesses, Osborne would create satellite office services around the county. Rather than trying to build permanent locations, which would be prohibitively expensive, his idea is to locate personnel on a rotating schedule in borrowed local government space. “Except for people in Carmel everyone else has to allocate the time in the day needed to drive to the office there,” he said.

Osborne, who is married to husband Chuck Burleigh, has lived in Garrison for four years and before that for eight years in Kent Cliffs. A native of Auburn, New York, in the Finger Lakes region, he lays claim to a long line of familial civic duty, including a relative who served as clerk of Auburn. He currently serves on the board of the Osborne Association, which for many years has offered services to state prisoners and their families to encourage positive reintegration into society. He is also the treasurer of the Philipstown Democratic Committee.

Facing an uphill race given the larger Republican voter numbers in Putnam County, Osborne expresses optimism. He said he has received an enthusiastic response from Democrats in the eastern side of the county and he believes there is a sufficient number of registered independents and independent-minded voters for him to win.

“The time is right for a fresh perspective. I will bring an organized, professional business background to the job. I know I’ll be good at it,” he said.

Photo by K.E. Foley

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Foley is the former managing editor of The Current and a partner in foleymyers communications in Northampton, Massachusetts.

7 replies on “Osborne Runs for Putnam County Clerk”

  1. Lithgow Osborne’s ideas about modernizing and increasing the customer focus of the County Clerk’s office are so important. We need to move a 19th-century function into the 21st-century and Lithgow is the one to do it.

  2. Lithgow’s ideas about moving the offices around the county are long overdue. It is not always easy or expeditious to run to Carmel, and why should everyone? It is one of many ideas he has to bring the clerk’s office into the 21st century. I just hope the voters look at qualifications and not just the letter at the end of the name.

  3. I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment Mr. Osborne expresses. Why shouldn’t government be as operationally fit as any other organization? And his observation that the website is cheerful but impenetrable is spot on. Nothing is more irritating when trying to navigate a website (particularly when dealing with one’s taxes) than to be thwarted by a brick wall of “cheerfulness.” I like his approach.

  4. I wish godspeed to Mr. Osborne and anyone else who has the courage and resources to run for public office in this benighted county. The problem is that politics in Putnam County under the GOP regime, affectionately known as “Club Putnam,” has become a self-perpetuating oligarchy. People get elected to office whose only qualifications are that they’ve been loyal soldiers who will do whatever the bosses tell them to do, regardless of whether or not it’s legal or ethical.

    I have been a taxpayer advocate for many years, way before there was a Tea Party, and have seen this corruption firsthand. Just recently there was a “scandal” that was covered by some of the local media, including LoHud, involving the arrest of a young woman who was charged with election fraud for allegedly submitting nominating petitions that she knew contained forged signatures. Anyone want to guess whose petitions they were? The petitions were those for those loyal Republicans, current supervisor / attorney Robert Tendy and councilwoman Jacqueline Annabi who one would think, would bear some responsibility for legal documents that had been submitted on their behalf. Of course, both Mr. Tendy and Ms. Annabi were handily elected, despite the challenges that were filed by their Democrat opponents.

    Which brings me back to the point of Mr. Osborne’s candidacy. This process is controlled by the GOP from top to bottom. Anyone who bucks the Machine had better make sure they get double or triple the number of signatures needed on their petitions, because you can be sure that there will be challenges, whether legit or not. And, the decision makers, the complainants, the judge and the jury are basically one and the same. Good luck.

  5. In the LoHud article mentioned, Mr. Tendy and Ms. Annabi say they knew nothing. But when I challenged these petitions last year, I sent them certified mail copies of my objections that the petition signatures did not match the voters’ signatures. When do public officials have to take responsibility?

    Take every opportunity to bring about a change. Mr. Osborne is an excellent opportunity.

  6. I’m glad to see that Ms. Powell has commented on this article, as she was the one who filed the objections to begin with, and she is most familiar with the tawdry circumstances that surrounded the election in question.

    Mr. Osborne would be well served to communicate with Ms. Powell to find out what he will be up against this fall. He seems like a decent enough fellow, with good ideas about the office he aspires to; sadly, that’s not enough in Putnam County, and I hope he retains a good attorney who specializes in election law. The Machine does not take challenges lightly, especially for such an important position.

  7. Is this the same Mr. Tendy who is rumored to have aspirations of being Putnam County’s District Attorney?

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