Anthony Picente, County Executive
Anthony Picente says he’s about as “Oneida County as it gets.” Maybe that’s why he ran for County Executive, an office he’s held since 2006. He’s a republican, and a good example of the bipartisan support for refugees common in the area. Picente grew up in an Italian family in Utica, surrounded by relatives speaking their native language, living right next door to a Polish family doing the same. The Utica of his youth was a bigger city than it is now, and one of his goals as county executive is to grow the population. He’s happy to have more refugees, and tells critics their positive contribution is greater than any burden. But he knows resettlement is about more than numbers: “This is what we are,” he told us. “We are in the business of helping people and we are in the business of welcoming people. And this community has always been that melting pot.” Every day Picente sees first-hand what refugees bring to the area. He’s hired as his assistant a young Bosnian woman, Mahira Patkovich, who is pursuing a master’s degree while running her own small business.