By Matt Youngfrau
ALBANY June 7, 2002 After months of haggling, the New York State Assembly and Senate finally passed a state re-districting plan on Wednesday and its left longtime Sullivan County Congressman Ben Gilman out in the cold.
The plan was passed by both the Senate and the Assembly and was approved by New York State Governor George Pataki. State lawmakers were forced to cut two representatives in Washington because of the 2000 United States Census.
For many years, Sullivan County has been represented in the United States House of Representatives by Maurice Hinchey (a Democrat) and Benjamin Gilman (a Republican). The plan adopted Wednesday saw Gilman removed from Sullivan County.
"I am deeply disappointed by the actions of the New York State Assembly, the State Senate, and Governor Pataki," Gilman said in a press release issued yesterday. "The politically motivated plan approved earlier today by the State of New York does not appropriately reflect the best interests of the people of New York. I am now weighing every option available to me and fully intend to run for another term in the Congress."
Gilman now will be forced to run against Sue Kelly (a Republican) in a primary. That new district, which has been mostly represented by Kelly for years, includes Putnam County and parts of Orange, Rockland, Dutchess, and Westchester counties. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has suggested Gilman switch parties and run against Kelly, who intends to vigorously defend her seat. Gilman is considering that option.
Hinchey was at the Eagle's Nest in Bloomingburg last Sunday at the Sullivan County Democratic Party's Brunch and addressed the issue.
"It will be a privilege to campaign in all of Sullivan County," Hinchey said. "I believe in the people of Sullivan County. I will continue to work hard for the people of this state. I am looking forward to working with all of you."
Before the plan was adopted, there was a small problem. Candidates looking to run in November's election had to start getting their petitions signed on Monday. With no plan in place, the state had to set that date back to June 18. All petitions now must be submitted between July 22 and July 25.
In Sullivan County, there will be races for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, New York State Congressman, New York State Assemblyman, Sullivan County Legislature (Districts 3 and 4), and County Family Court Judge.