By Matt Youngfrau and Dan Hust
MONTICELLO September 2, 2003 At 5:30 pm, Thursday, Alan Sorensen officially tendered his resignation as Sullivan County Planning and Community Development Commissioner to County Manager Dan Briggs.
The resignation was effective immediately.
I thought about this for a long time, Sorensen stated in a telephone interview Thursday evening. This is the hardest decision I have ever made in my life.
Sorensen said he left his six-year job with the county for two reasons: he has formed his own private consulting firm, Planit Mainstreet, Inc.; and hes determining whether hell run for the 98th Assembly seat that was vacated by the death of Jake Gunther III.
Sorensen has already met with the Republican and Conservative parties in Sullivan and Orange counties. If he decides to run, it is confirmed that he will have the Republican nod. The Conservatives have yet to make a commitment. Sorensen said he will make his decision and an announcement soon.
I want to give myself a clearer mind and think through my decision, Sorensen said. There are some fine details I need to weigh back and forth. It has to fit into my familys plans. I need time to get away. It is a big decision.
No matter what decision Sorensen makes, he promises he will remain committed to Sullivan County.
I plan to continue to raise my family here, Sorensen remarked. I will still volunteer my time and efforts to non-profit organizations. I want to be a productive part of the community, no matter where the road leads me.
Sorensen told his staff about his decision on Thursday. Before making an official announcement, he wanted to wait until he informed his bosses: Briggs and the Legislature.
He spent Thursday night calling the legislators so they would not hear the news through media reports the next day.
While it could not be confirmed, part of Sorensen's reason to quit may have to do with the federal Hatch Act. Some of the Democratic Party leaders questioned if, under the act, Sorensen could hold his appointed job while considering an Assembly run. (The act forbids public employees who handle federal funds from holding or seeking an elected office.) Sorensen declined to comment on that matter.
During Sorensens tenure as Planning Commissioner, he brought in more than $15 million in grants to the county. Some of the programs he helped create and bring to the county include the Main Street Redevelopment Corporation, the Emerald Corporate Park, the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway, the Agri-Business Loan Program, the Neighborhood Rehabilitation Housing Program, and the Empire Zone.
Sorensen, along with the Legislature, helped to get the ball rolling on a comprehensive master plan.
I will volunteer to serve on the comprehensive plan committee, Sorensen commented. I will not walk away. I want to be involved and contribute.
I will insist on it, Legislature Chair Leni Binder said in response to Sorensens request to sit on the Master Plan committee. I know [Sorensens resigning] was a possibility. It is a complicated situation, and there are a lot of projects in the works. He will go forward just a little slower. His contributions will be missed.
I extend my sincere gratitude to County Manager Dan Briggs, the members of the Legislature, and all the people of Sullivan County for the wonderful opportunity to serve as Planning Commissioner for six and a half years, Sorensen reflected. I had a wonderful opportunity to work with many dedicated people and feel that, together, we have made a positive change in the community. I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to create many new initiatives and programs that benefit the residents and business owners of Sullivan County.
Sorensen, 38, lives with his wife Jane and three children in Rock Hill.
Sorensen met with Briggs early Friday morning to discuss how the Planning Dept. will run without him.
Explaining that General Services Commissioner Harvey Smith will offer oversight of the department, Briggs said Friday morning that theres a very capable staff on board in the Planning Dept.
However, I suspect well be setting up a search committee soon, he added. You want to be careful you want to have the right person.
As for Sorensen, Briggs said hell miss him, crediting Sorensen with being a hard worker dedicated to furthering the Legislatures visions for the county.
Im grateful for his contributions to the countys revitalization, said Briggs. Hes determined to embark on a new career, and I wish him well.