A Hot One
By Matthew Youngfrau
MONTICELLO September 8, 2000 On Monday, August 28, the worst kept secret in Sullivan County was finally made official as the Sullivan County Legislature announced their choice of longtime County Treasurer Daniel Briggs to fill the vacant county managers job.
Immediately, speculation turned to who would fill the soon-to-be vacant county treasurers position. Several names cropped up, including Deputy County Treasurer Olga Parlow, Legislator Christopher Cunningham, Town of Fallsburg Deputy Supervisor Arnold Seletsky, Town of Neversink Supervisor Georgianna Lepke, Town of Bethel Supervisor Allan Scott, and Community Bank of Sullivan County consultant and Director of Business Robert Ernst.
Of those names, Lepke, Scott, and Ernst have stated they would not seek the position at this time.
Even though the process has yet to officially begin, there has been much speculation on exactly what that process will be. Many are not sure who makes the choice, whether it be the county legislature or Governor George Pataki. According to the Sullivan County Charter, the legislature makes the choice sort of.
It is vague, commented New York State Senator John Bonacic. The governor has the power [to make the appointment] unless the county charter specifically addresses a vacancy. Then, the legislature has the right to make the appointment. [County Attorney] Ira Cohen feels that it is within the rights of the charter to make the appointment. I believe the county will decide and prevail [if it goes to court].
We are currently getting names of potential candidates, remarked Sullivan County Legislature Chairperson Rusty Pomeroy. We will see who is interested and discuss it in caucus. The legislature should make their choice by the first week in October.
If the selection is indeed made in October, the appointee would not be up for election until November 2001. (If the appointment were to be made before September 20, an election would be held this year, which appears unlikely.) It would still have to go through Executive Committee on Thursday, October 12. Then, the full legislature would have to approve the appointment at their regular monthly meeting on Thursday, October 19.
The leading candidate currently seems to be District 1 Legislator Christopher Cunningham. Cunning-ham has been approached by some legislators and others from the private sector, and he is very interested in the job.
I plan to make my career as a public administrator, Cunningham stated. I am taking courses at Marist in that field. It would be a challenging job. I feel I would do a good job, and it would be exciting. I also feel that the government is here to do their best for the people.
If Cunningham were to get the job, a vacancy would be created in the legislature. According to the charter, the legislature would appoint a replacement. An election would then be held at some point in the future. It is unclear whether it would be with the other legislature elections in 2003 or if it would be held earlier.
Also, speculation has begun on the consequences of a Cunningham appointment. Due to the vague nature of the law in this case, talk of a legal challenge has begun. While no one would go on record about the possibility of a legal challenge to the charter, it has been mentioned. (County Republican Committee Chairperson Greg Goldstein did say it might be a consideration.)
Another favorite for the job seems to be Deputy Treasurer Olga Parlow. Parlow was hired 17 years ago by Briggs and has worked with him ever since. Parlow has expressed an interest in the job, and there are those who feel she has the experience necessary to do the job.
Im just waiting to see what happens, Parlow said. Ive gotten a lot of support from many people. Even when Im shopping, people stop me and give their support. Many have been very vocal that I should get the job. Its been nice.
Parlow is undecided on what shell do if she does not get the job. While she may be eligible for retirement, she would like to put in at least 20 years of service. Currently, she has almost 18 years under her belt.
The other confirmed candidate is Town of Fallsburg Deputy Supervisor Arnold Seletsky. He has run his own business, Seletsky Vending, for almost 25 years. He has served on the Fallsburg School Board for six years (two years as president) and five years on the Fallsburg Town Board. He believes that these experiences qualify him for the job.
This position is very important to the county, Seletsky commented. I see this as another opportunity to serve the people. Ive lived here all my life. I have the respect of both parties. I feel I am the peoples choice.
Some including Goldstein and Seletsky would like to see a special election to fill the vacancy. However, it appears that the position will be filled at the pleasure of the legislature.
Like the county manager search, most of the candidates for the treasurers job will not be announced. While Briggs is expected to start his new job in early October, the new treasurer will likely not begin the job until early November, at the very least.