By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO October 8, 2002 The Sullivan County Democratic Committee held its 86th Annual Jeffersonian Dinner at Kutshers Country Club on Sunday, October 6. To the surprise of dinner organizers, well over 200 people showed up for the annual event. In fact, they had to scramble at the last minute to get more tables and re-arrange seating. The two special guests were New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and former United States Congressman Matt McHugh.
I thank you all for attending tonight, commented Sullivan County Democratic Party Chair Bob Krutman. We have two very special guests here tonight in Matt McHugh and Eliot Spitzer. Im glad that so many are here tonight.
The evening was hosted by Sullivan County Clerk George Cooke, who peppered the event with his trademark humor. Before the opening prayer, Cooke explained that they tried to get a priest and a rabbi, but both were unable to attend. He then turned over the opening prayer to the person he referred to as the Mother Teresa of our party, Sullivan County District 2 Legislator Kathleen LaBuda.
That was followed by the singing of God Bless America by Lori Orestano-James. Afterwards, the town supervisors and New York State Assemblyman Jake Gunther were introduced.
Before introducing Sullivan County Family Court Judge Candidate Elissa Killian, Ron Gozza announced the new Sullivan County Democratic Committees Web site (sullivandems.com), calling it a valuable tool where people could get absentee ballots and voter registration. Also, each town will have its own webpage.
When Elissa was Village [of Liberty] Attorney, she put fear in the residents, former Liberty mayor Ron Gozza said, adding that the current Family Court system is very sad. She will be the first female Family Court Judge.
I am proud to be the first female Family Court Judge candidate, Killian agreed. I have had two debates with my opponent [current Family Court Judge Mark Meddaugh]. The way he tells it, he invented Family Court . . . [but] the system is not working. In a custody dispute, families have to wait six months, a year, or a year and a half. That does not work.
Elissa will make history, remarked United States Congressman Maurice Hinchey, who then turned to less local matters. The President wants a war in Iraq. The reason for this direction is to take focus away from what is going on at home. When he came into office, we had a $200 billion surplus. Today, two years later, we have a $200 billion deficit. It will get worse. We will fall into a recession.
We can all be very proud of the team we have, Hinchey continued. We have to get the Democratic message across. For ten years, I served most of Sullivan County. Now I look forward to serving all of Sullivan County.
The guests ate dinner as the speeches commenced. Once all the local candidates and representatives had their say, the two special guests took over.
I thank you for the 18 years I had in office. This was a wonderful place to represent, McHugh said. Maurice has been a good friend. He succeeded me and brings the same spirit, quality, and pride to the office that I did. We need good men and women. We will be committed and continue to contribute.
In 1998, I was told I won because I was sandwiched between H. Carl McCall and Charles Schumer. This year, I hope to return the favor, commented Spitzer. I will get out there and work hard. Everyone deserves a fair shake and an opportunity. I have to agree with Maurice and say the President has taken us down the wrong path. We have good candidates. We will win.