By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO October 16, 2001 The 85th Annual Jeffersonian Dinner, sponsored by the Sullivan County Democratic Committee, took place on Sunday, October 14, at Kutsher's Country Club in Monticello.
The keynote speaker was United States Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Over 400 people attended.
However, the evening was somewhat somber, as it was dedicated to the memories of the victims of the September 11 tragedy and recently deceased Sullivan County Legislator Gordon MacKinnon. As the evening began, Committee Chair Bob Krutman asked for a moment of silence in their honor.
"My father told me that Americans do not unite until a time of crisis," Krutman stated. "Unfortunately, that is true. Gordon was loyal and truthful. He was honest to a fault. This night is in honor of the World Trade Center victims and Gordon."
The evening was hosted by Sullivan County Clerk George Cooke. Cooke introduced the dignitaries in attendance, including New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, New York State Assemblyman Jake Gunther, and United States Representative Maurice Hinchey.
"These are difficult times," Hinchey told the crowd. "We have united as a nation behind the president. It is important that we do things carefully, with reason, sensitivity, and understanding."
After his speech, Hinchey introduced Senator Clinton. He reflected on how long he has known the senator and talked about her time on the campaign trail.
Clinton informed the crowd that she was happy to be back in Sullivan County (she was here then as the First Lady two years ago at the 83rd Annual Jeffersonian Dinner). Clinton stated that recent events caused her to change her speech. She would have spoken at length on such issues as giving resources to schools, paying more for special education, prescription drug plans for seniors, healthcare, and support for local hospitals. Clinton also stated that she would have discussed economic development, if times were different.
"These are uncharted waters," Clinton told the audience. "We are gripped by a set of circumstances that are not of our making. The terrorists can't defeat us. They can destroy lives. They can hurt the economy, but they cannot defeat us."
Clinton went on to state that, just by being at the dinner, all in attendance were "rebuking their adversaries." She assured everyone that the nation would get through this and rise to the challenge. She encouraged all to go on with their business.
Clinton left early to attend a dinner in Orange County. The dais was then turned over to Sullivan County Legislature Chair Rusty Pomeroy to reflect on MacKinnon.
"Gordon was a man of great faith and great principles," Pomeroy commented. "He would want us to fight the good fight and to continue our work."
With that, Pomeroy asked all those in attendance to raise a glass and give two toasts for MacKinnon.