By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO August 8, 2003 Its official.
As expected, Aileen Gunther confirmed on Tuesday that she will be the Democratic candidate to fill the 98th State Assembly Seat of her late husband, Jake Gunther III.
Gunther made the announcement at the Government Center in Monticello in front of a crowd of approximately 200 people.
Though there were smiles everywhere, it was still a sobering event.
This is a difficult time and a difficult day, Sullivan County Clerk George Cooke commented as he introduced Gunther. We want to move forward. Aileen has the same goals and ideals as Jake. She will do this with dignity, honesty, and integrity. Success will be realized.
I am not a philosopher, but I know that life is a series of beginnings and endings, remarked Sullivan County Democratic Party Chair Bob Krutman. Today is a new beginning. We were fortunate to have Jake for 11 years. He was feisty and independent. Over and above, he was kind, loyal and compassionate. We will all miss him.
We have someone to take up the position that is also considerate, compassionate, and feisty, Krutman continued. It is a bittersweet day. It is not a pleasure to do this but an honor to introduce her.
She is a great candidate, concurred Orange County Democratic Party Chair Jonathan Jacobs. She is intelligent and energetic. She has roots in both areas. She is a special candidate in a special election. I pledge our whole-hearted support. She will carry on Jakes work. I am looking forward to working with Aileen in the future.
Gunther was greeted with loud and sustained applause.
Jakes passing caused immeasurable pain, Gunther said. It has been some relief that we have had all of you to share this with. He will be fondly remembered. Jake was as much a part of this area as it was a part of him. He did his best to represent the area. I will continue his work and follow his legacy.
There will be no more politics as usual, Gunther continued. There will be no status quo. I want to improve the state and district. We will respond to others needs and work to meet those needs. I will continue the work Jake started. I will make his dreams reality. I look forward to serving.
Cooke announced that Gunther had no platform prepared yet. However, he stated that it would be coming.
She will give opinions on everything, Cooke said. She will be preparing them.
Gunther stayed to greet the crowd afterwards. She answered questions and got to know the people she wishes to serve.
As yet, the Republicans have not decided upon an opponent. They may opt not to run anyone until next year for the full term. At press time, Orange and Sullivan County Republicans have been meeting to determine whether or not to even field a candidate.
The 50-year-old Jake Gunther III, who died suddenly on July 9 after a brief bout with cancer, served as the Democratic/Conservative Assemblyman for all of Sullivan County, the cities of Middletown and Port Jervis, and the towns of Deerpark, Minisink, Greenville, and Wawayanda in Orange County for more than a decade.
He is survived by Aileen and their three children, all of Forestburgh.