Barb Rice can make a difference statewide

Barbara Rice (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

We were worried during the weeks shrouded in mystery about why Barbara Rice had quit her important positions on the Franklin County and state Adirondack Park Agency boards.

Her departure is a significant loss for the people of Franklin County and the Adirondack Park in general because Rice is an elected representative of rare qualities: conscientious, hard-working and honest, upbeat but ready to bear down on important details, and ultimately well-liked by people across the political spectrum. She won every election she entered, usually by big margins — and for good reason.

Many people guessed she had a state job lined up, and we feared she would vanish into the Albany fog, never to be heard from again. She wouldn’t be the first talented North Country politician to do so.

But when the announcement came, at this month’s APA board meeting, it turned out that she is in a better place than we feared — assistant secretary for economic development in the governor’s office. That’s a pretty big deal, considering that Gov. Andrew Cuomo commits so much energy and tax money to economic development.

It’s also big considering how his aides and officers have been accused, and in one case convicted, of corruption in the process of doling out those funds.

Whether or not you believe the governor himself is corrupt, we should all be able to agree that he needs economic development advisors with integrity and common sense. Rice has those, plus a strong small town, small business and local government background. If she sticks to her values, resists gimmicks and actively protects the public from unethical schemes, she can be a force for good for all New Yorkers.

That hope outshines our disappointment in losing her here in the North Country.