By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO March 18, 2005 Among the highlights of Tuesdays village elections, Gordon Jenkins easily won a three-way race to become the new trustee on the Village of Monticello Board. He will serve a one-year term, replacing Ariel Escobar, who is relocating out of the area.
Jenkins, running on the Democratic and Independent ticket, received 297 votes, according to the Sullivan County Board of Elections. David Rosenberg, a Republican, tallied 119 votes, and Jeffry Sternberg, endorsed by the Conservative Party, took in 35 votes.
The win by Jenkins, in the most populous village in the county, was hard-fought. He overcame a legal challenge by Sternberg and remains in a fight with the federal government over its interpretation of the Hatch Act.
A complaint was made by a local political opponent whose identity has not been revealed. The United States Office of Special Counsel believes he cannot run for office, because the Sullivan Correctional Facility, where he works as a corrections officer, receives federal funds.
But Jenkins and his attorney, Ira Cohen, have taken the battle to court, contending that the officials are using too broad of an interpretation, which would preclude thousands of people throughout the country from assuming political office, including those who work for schools.
Jenkins did not campaign until the last week, due to the legal fight. The federal prosecutors said he could not campaign, so he was not able to order posters. But the U.S. District Court ruled in his favor, calling for a show order cause before the case was redirected to the Merit System Protection Board for a hearing.
In the final days, he made a concerted effort to campaign throughout the village and pass out flyers.
After it was all over and he was determined the winner, Jenkins said he was happy: Im glad I had the support. . . . I promised that I would make a difference.
He will still have to await a hearing and, perhaps, another court challenge, but in the meantime he is looking forward to some goals he has been talking about for the last 10-15 years, which he wants to accomplish as a trustee.
Among them, he said, was increasing recycling, keeping taxes low, taking care of the many potholes in the village and instituting programs for children. He has also been an outspoken critic of what he says are low wages by many of the countys largest employers.
In addition to working as a corrections officer, he owns several businesses on Broadway, including G-Men Beauty Supplies.
For the second year in a row, an election in the Village of Wurtsboro was razor-tight. Republican and Good Neighbor candidate Edward Handford defeated incumbent Wurtsboro First Mayor Robert Whitehead by an unofficial tally of 152-136, according to the Sullivan County Board of Elections.
The board of elections only had seven absentee ballots for the village but has until March 22 to receive them. The board must wait until March 28 to receive military ballots.
Trustee John Klein ran unopposed and garnered 167 votes.
In the Village of Liberty, Democratic Mayor William Rube Smith defeated Clean Water candidate Diane Atkins 212-63.
In the trustee race, Joan Stoddard and Allan Berube both kept their seats by running unopposed. They picked up 218 and 211 votes unofficially.
In the Village of Bloomingburg, trustee Clifford Teich ran unopposed on the Progressive ticket, racking up 26 unofficial votes.
Village of Jeffersonville Mayor Ed Justus was the only candidate on the ballot Tuesday, but 15 people wrote in votes for Andrew Dressel. Justus still won with 30 total votes.
The two incumbent trustees, Jacqueline Oliver and Peter Ciaccio, were unopposed, garnering 40 and 30 votes, respectively.