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Dan Hust | Democrat

MONTICELLO MAYOR GORDON Jenkins speaks after his swearing-in yesterday.

Jenkins makes history

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — April 11, 2008 — “Today starts a new beginning,” said Gordon Jenkins yesterday morning.
And indeed it was, as the first black man in Sullivan County history was sworn in as a village mayor inside the County Government Center in Monticello.
Breaking up as he delivered his first speech as Monticello’s new mayor, Jenkins thanked his family, fiancee Rochelle Massey and campaign supporter John Barbarite for their unwavering assistance.
He even thanked his opponent, four-year incumbent Mayor Jim Barnicle, who lost his seat by 61 votes on March 18.
“I appreciate his hard work, and I wish him well,” remarked Jenkins to a crowd of 100 well-wishers.
But yesterday’s focus was on the future, not the past, and Jenkins promised that his administration “will be truly colorblind in its approach.”
It will certainly be a diverse administration. Jenkins’ running mate, Carmen Rue, was sworn in yesterday as a new village trustee, while it was expected that Barbarite, the ex-deputy village manager, would be named village manager at last night’s village board meeting.
Also anticipated last night was lifelong resident Theodore Hutchens’ appointment to Jenkins’ unfinished trustee term.
The 36-year-old youth counselor at the Goshen Secure Center said he was eager to better the village and improve relationships between the community and police.
“I also want to try to keep our taxes down,” he added.

First speech as mayor

Editor’s Note: Following is the full text of new Monticello Mayor Gordon Jenkins’ inaugural speech, given yesterday at the Government Center in Monticello. See story on front page.
Good morning. I want to thank all of you for coming out and sharing this day with me.
The votes have now been counted, and I am now the newly elected Mayor of Monticello. For this, I am truly blessed.
I want to thank all of the people who helped me to reach this wonderful and final destination. There are so many to thank that it is almost impossible to name all of you. Please know that I will always remember what all you workers did for me. With all my heart I truly say thank you.
There are, however, several people who I truly must thank. Without them, I would not be standing here. First and foremost, is my mother Maria. She has always been my moral compass to make sure that I always tried to do the right thing. In addition, there are few words I can say about my father, Jesse Jenkins, who was always an inspiration to me. He could not be here, since he is quite ill. I know in my heart that he is with me now as he is every day of my life.
Speaking about my family, I cannot forget my wonderful brothers and sisters who together assisted me in becoming the person I have become. They helped to shape the values that I presently have.
In thanking people, the person who is right in the front is my partner and love, Rochelle, who is both my major advisor and my calming influence. Without her, I truly would be incomplete. Being elected mayor is as much her success as mine.
Lastly, I want to especially and publicly note my dear friend John Barbarite, who was so personally abused in the course of this recent race. He, as well as his family, did not deserve the pain that they received. My victory is his, as well. My sincere hope is that my election does restore to him his well earned reputation.
In regard to my opponent, Mayor Jim Barnicle, we had several rough spots over the last couple of years. And although we disagreed on many issues, I believe he tried his best. I appreciate his hard work and wish him well.
I also want to congratulate Carmen Rue and Victor Marinello on their victory for Trustee. I know they will truly serve our village well.
Also, it is important that the village of Monticello have a good working relationship with the town and county. What is in the past will, for me, remain in the past. As the future unfolds, it is my desire that we all work together to attempt to resolve our mutual problems.
Lastly, I do not take lightly the fact that I am the first mayor of color in the history of Sullivan County. This is an enormous factor in my life. To those who assisted me in getting elected, I want to thank you for your appreciation of the need for diversity in electing public officials. I promise that my administration will be truly colorblind in approach. It is my hope that years from now, my administration will be judged free of any racial considerations and that in the future, the color, ethnic background, or gender will no longer have any place in selecting a candidate.
Paraphrasing our great leader Martin Luther King, I want to see a time in my lifetime when a man will not be judged by the color of his skin but by the content of his character.
Today starts a new beginning. We are all God's children and as long as I am mayor, all people will be treated equally. I look forward to the mighty challenges facing all of us. My goal is to change potential hope into proven success. If we all join together free of politics, free of racial divides, free of economic polarization, we can together create the changes we need.
Yesterday is too late. Tomorrow awaits us all. Walk with me through the valley of despair and join me arm in arm with victories as we leave.
Today, the new beginning, has begun.

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