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Meet Your New Sheriff, Treasurer

By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO – November 11, 2005 – Sullivan County had one of its largest Election Day turnouts in recent memory, as approximately 19,000 residents cast their ballots in countywide and town races on Tuesday.
Tuesday’s election appeared to eclipse the voting tallies for the last four previous election years in the county was still “moderate to low” according to Sullivan County Election Commissioner Fran Thalmann.
There are 46,000 registered voters in the county, she said.
While several incumbents lost their seats, none of the races were more feverishly pitched than the election for Sullivan County Sheriff, in which Republican and Conservative-endorsed Michael Schiff held a 689-vote margin over Democrat Frank Armstrong (9,047-8,358) as of Wednesday.
Those results did not count about 700 absentee ballots yet to be counted or another 600 absentee ballots that are expected. It also does not count the Bloomingburg district in the Town of Mamakating, according to Sullivan County Board of Elections Commissioner Fran Thalmann.
The Bloomingburg district was set to be tallied on Thursday by the Sullivan County Board of Elections, since election workers out there did not complete their jobs until nearly 1 a.m. (or four hours after the polls closed on Tuesday evening). The absentee ballots will not be tabulated for another two weeks.
Re-canvassing the ballots has been slow, as one of the department’s workers has been out due to the serious accident of her son who is in a coma.
Schiff was not declaring victory, although it would take a major sweep of the remaining ballots for him to lose. Armstrong had not yet conceded defeat.
“I am cautiously optimistic,” said Schiff. “When somebody calls me up with the final numbers, I will declare victory.
“I’m glad it’s over. It was a long, hard-fought campaign. Hopefully, I will be the next Sullivan County Sheriff.”
According to Sullivan County Republican Party Chairman John LiGreci, Schiff will become the first Republican Sheriff in Sullivan County in 38 years. LiGreci called Schiff the winner.
Schiff thanked his large group of volunteers for the time and effort they put into campaigning for him. He said he is looking forward to spending time with his family, which includes his wife Christine and four children. Christine also acted as his busy campaign manager over the last eight months.
The retired New York State Trooper said he didn’t want to talk too much about his future plans until the results were official. But, he said he looks forward to implementing the programs he talked about during his campaign.
Sullivan County Treasurer
In the Sullivan County Treasurer’s race, two long-time political heavyweights battled it out.
The hard-fought campaign ended with former Sullivan County attorney and Democrat Ira Cohen on top of Republican Sullivan County legislator Leni Binder by a vote of 8,686 to 7,181 as of Wednesday. Despite the loss, Binder will maintain her seat on the legislature, which expires in two years.
Cohen was clearly elated by the results, which put him ahead early on in the evening. “I campaigned five-and-a half-months. We campaigned clean, we didn’t get personal, we talked about the issues. I hope the main issue was the discussion I tried to have about the treasurer’s office and the programs I will try to bring to the office.”
The treasurer-elect said that he and Binder “both had a lot of name recognition. We both did a good job of debating the issues. We took a lot of people by surprise. It is usually (a low profile race). We brought it up a notch. That’s good for the process. I’m very happy.”
As for Binder, “somebody had to lose,” she said. The legislator said that she was receiving indications a couple weeks earlier that she would be facing an uphill battle. She said she wouldn’t second-guess the way she campaigned.
“I think [Cohen] offered them something [the voters] liked . . . The great compliment to me is that the district I represented supported me,” she said.
Binder won the Town of Fallsburg by 14 percentage points.
The former chairwoman of the legislature is now looking at a hefty plate of legislative business. She supports the creation of a new county executive and believes that could abolish the position of the treasurer. She said the legislature will also be dealing with major issues such as the landfill, site selection for a new jail and the hiring of a new county manager over the next few months.
Sullivan County District Attorney
Sullivan County DA Stephen Lungen ran unopposed once again to begin his 25th year as the county’s head prosecutor.
“I’m going to continue what I have been doing,” Lungen said. “I appreciate the support I have received from throughout the county over the years. They don’t have to worry about me putting in the time and earning my keep. I want to be able to keep up with the county’s expansion in a way that ensures the public safety.
“I worry about how the prospect of gaming will affect public safety. I am worried about whether we will have the resources . . . We have plenty of work to do. We have terrific police departments and no matter what, we will get the job done.”


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