MaryEllen Odell, a 50-year resident of Putnam County, was sworn in as Putnam’s fifth County Executive by former NYS Governor George Pataki on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2011 after she won a special election held on November 6, 2011.
Immediately prior to her election as County Executive, MaryEllen served as the New York State Senate’s Director of Veterans and Local Government Affairs.
MaryEllen first became involved in local politics in the 1990s when Carmel proposed to build a sewer plant three times too large for its service area and waste millions of taxpayer dollars. In 1995, she co-founded the Carmel Sports Association at no cost to taxpayers, and became an active member of the Hamlet of Carmel Civic Association, the Carmel Industrial Development Agency, and Putnam Economic Development Council and sat on the Executive Board for the Gold Star Mothers statue in Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park.
In January of 2006, MaryEllen, an independent real estate title closer, was appointed to fill a vacancy on the CountyLegislature. She represented District 5 which included the Hamlet of Carmel and portions of the towns of Kent and Patterson.
As an active first-year member of the Legislature, MaryEllen was appointed to chair the Economic Development Committee. After her re-election to the Legislature in 2007, she served as chairwoman for the Personnel and Protective Services Committees and sat for two terms as the deputy chairperson of the County Legislature.
During her five year career as a legislator, MaryEllen initiated the formation of and chaired the Fiscal Vision and Accountability Commission comprised of citizen volunteers, business leaders and elected officials. There she successfully fought to reduce unnecessary government expenditures and championed such innovative programs as electronic appearance and video conferencing.
MaryEllen led the Legislature in their call against the disastrous MTA Payroll Tax and joined Chairman Vincent Tamagna in announcing Putnam would join a regional partnership in a class-action lawsuit against the MTA.
For her service as a County Legislator, MaryEllen was honored by the Putnam County Joint Veterans Council with their “Honorary Veteran Award.”
In 2010, MaryEllen chose to run for the office of County Executive. In the most contentious campaign Putnam County had witnessed in 20 years, MaryEllen challenged long-time State Senator Vincent Leibell for the Republican nomination. While she narrowly lost the primary and Leibell went on to win the general election, MaryEllen returned to the campaign trail as the winning candidate for the position following Leibell’s Dec. 6, 2010 guilty plea on federal corruption charges.
As County Executive, Mary Ellen has seen Putnam make great strides forward in managing its assets, optimizing its resources and making beneficial economic and developmental connections.
MaryEllen is a 1978 graduate of Carmel High School. She and her husband David have raised their two children and reside in her childhood home in the Hamlet of Carmel.