Gender barriers falling as

Only five of the 58 county chairs and four of the 17 county executives seats statewide are currently held by women.

In Essex County, the first two women were elected to the board in 1980. St. Armand Supervisor Joyce Morency joined them in 1982 and became the first female county chair in 1995.

"When I first came on the board, the good old boys were here and it was a lot different than it is now," Morency said. "It took a long while to get comfortable because there was a certain amount of control. That's the way it was done years ago."

The newly elected Ticonderoga Supervisor Deb Malaney, Minerva Supervisor Sue Montgomery-Corey, Crown Point Supervisor Bethany Kosmider and town of Essex Supervisor Sharon Boison join Morency, Lori Lincoln-Spooner, and recent board chair Cathy Moses in the county legislative chambers.

Shortly after taking her oath, Malaney reflected on the larger social significance of her election and the forces driving a push to governmental equality.

"It's obviously a sign of the times, it's a generational shift," Malaney said. "Women have been in the workforce for sometime now and we are now coming forward to serve."

The seven women now compose 39 percent of the 18-member board, a figure well ahead of most counties, both rural and urban.

Several counties in the region have boards composed almost entirely of men. The boards in Warren and Franklin counties, for instance, are entirely male. In Clinton County, women hold only two of the 10 county legislative seats.

Local state Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward is a former member of the Essex County Board of Supervisors and in 1998 became the second female board chair after Morency.

She said that when she first joined the board, she was faced with stereotypes that only made proving her political abilities all the more difficult.

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