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Some Incumbents Ousted
In Local Village Elections

By John Emerson
SULLIVAN COUNTY — March 24, 2000 -- The battle of the ballot box in villages throughout Sullivan County Tuesday resulted in the ouster of incumbents on the village boards of Wurtsboro, Liberty and perhaps Monticello in a trustee race that will not be finally determined until next week.
The most contentious campaign in this year’s round of village elections was in Monticello’s mayoral race. The campaign featured a rematch from last year’s special mayoral election between Republican incumbent Gary Sommers and his Democratic challenger, Jeff Sternberg.
As of late Wednesday afternoon, Sommers was leading the race by 33 votes, 424 to 391, with at least 30 absentee ballots and 17 affidavit ballots yet to be verified and counted. Sullivan County Election Commissioner Timothy Hill said there was little likelihood that, even if all the ballots were valid, there were enough to change the outcome of the race.
In the race for two open trustee seats, however, one of the contests was close enough to be determined by the absentee ballots. Incumbent Repub-lican David Rosenberg was leading Democratic challenger Connie Keller by a slender 13-vote margin, 418 votes to 405 votes. In a village where the registration figures heavily favor Democrats, Hill said the race was too close to call.
“I believe the work the Republicans did on absentees had most of them in for counting on the night of the election,” he said. “Anything that comes in from this point on, I think – with the natural flow of the ballots – will probably favor the Democratic candidate.”
In the campaign for the other available trustee seat, Democrat Victor Marinello easily outdistanced Repub-lican Chris Schmidt, 434 votes to 325 votes.
Under state election law, election officials must wait a week to allow for mail delivery of absentee ballots postmarked no later than the day before the election – in this case, March 20. The county Board of Elections has scheduled the public count of both the absentee and affidavit ballots for Wednesday, March 29 at 10:30 a.m., when the final unofficial results will be known.
Republicans swept both available trustee seats in the Liberty election when Stephen Lavelle and Lisa Morana emerged victorious over Democratic incumbent Joan Stoddard and her running mate Dennis Dainack. Lavelle was the top vote getter in the race with 231 votes, with Morana a close second, garnering 226 votes. Stoddard had 190 votes and Dainack 149.
Lavelle and Morana, both political newcomers, will serve two-year terms on the Liberty Village Board.
In the only other contested village race, Democrat Mickey Maher topped Republican incumbent James Thompson for a two-year seat on the Wurtsboro Village Board, 98-80.
In Bloomingburg, Mayor Ronald Scott was re-elected by 29 people, while trustee Jane Godfrey was also re-elected by 30 votes to another two-year term.
Jeffersonville trustees Edward Justus and William Thony were re-elected by 16 and 17 people, respectively, to serve two-year terms apiece.
(Woodridge conducts their elections later in the year.)

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