Thalmann to Retire; Gaebel Seeks Post
By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO January 12, 2007 One of the most change-filled eras in county politics continued yesterday with the announcement that Sullivan County Elections Commissioner Fran Thalmann will be retiring at the end of February. And taking her place may very well be Sullivan County legislator and Republican Minority Leader Rodney Gaebel.
Gaebel disclosed yesterday that he is interested in seeking the post which will be left vacant by Thalmann. The County Republican Executive Committee will have to approve the nomination of Gaebel or anybody else who may seek the position at its January 18 meeting and forward the recommendation to the full Sullivan County Legislature for approval.
Gaebel said the new opportunity was too good to pass up although he said he would still seek election as legislator if his party believes he would better serve them in that capacity.
Gaebel is the county’s longest serving elected member of its legislative arm. He was first elected in 1991 as Supervisor of the Town of Callicoon when the county was run by the Board of Supervisors. He has been re-elected every election since, including in 1995 when the county switched to the legislative format.
“I’ve really enjoyed the job I’ve had,” Gaebel said yesterday. “I’ve had great support from the constituents in my district. It’s been a tough road on some days and very gratifying on others. You do the best you can.”
He also had high praise for Thalmann. “Fran’s done a fantastic job and she will be hard to replace. I don’t know if I’ve ever met a more conscientious and caring person. That type of energy is hard to replace.”
Thalmann is one of the more well-known figures in government and her announcement was unexpected. She has been on the Board of Elections for the the last 17 years, serving as Republican Election Commissioner for the past several years.
Thalmann said the retirement incentive was too good to pass up and she would like to spend more time with her husband Arthur. Her appointment would have expired in 2009. Thalmann pledged to continue being active inside the party, assisting during election season.
Republican Party Chairman John LiGreci described her as “irreplaceable. It will be very hard for us to find somebody who has done what she has done for the Republican Party.”
LiGreci said her services were invaluable when it came to assisting candidates file the proper paperwork in order to seek candidacy. Thalmann also had to rule frequently on whether to discount ballots, petitions and whether to take such issues to court.
“I enjoy my work,” said Thalmann. “It’s a big decision… I will miss it. I really will.”
The decision by Thalmann also follows a recent decision by Probation Commissioner Genevieve Dainack to retire. In addition, 911 Coordinator Dave Kimmel has resigned.