Gilberg Sworn In As New County Clerk
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO May 18, 2007 Wednesday, Neil Gilberg said goodbye to Kutsher’s and the town board of Fallsburg.
The very next day, he walked into the Sullivan County Government Center in Monticello and became the county’s newest clerk.
Sworn in by Judge Frank LaBuda yesterday, Gilberg, 56, approached his new role with relish.
“Ladies and gentlemen, today you've made my day,” he said, referencing predecessor George Cooke’s statement to him upon learning of Gilberg's career change.
Cooke, County Clerk for 15 years, resigned in December amidst allegations of impropriety.
Governor Eliot Spitzer named Gilberg to the post several weeks ago after the county’s Democratic Party, which holds the majority on the Sullivan County Legislature, picked the longtime Democrat for the role.
The father of three leaves a 25-year stint as Kutsher’s general manager and 10 years as Town of Fallsburg councilman not with a heavy heart but with anticipation.
“I’m really excited,” the Hurleyville resident said earlier this week. “I’m looking forward to working for my neighbors.”
On Thursday, surrounded by county officials and well-wishers, he thanked his own family and his family at Kutsher’s with tears in his eyes
Considering he’s going from a staff of 250 to about two dozen, Gilberg said the only daunting part of the new job is the fact that he’ll have to mount a campaign if he wants to keep it. He must run for the position in this November’s elections to continue his service past December 31.
In the meantime, he’s been availing himself of training offered by the NYS Association of County Clerks to familiarize himself with his duties.
“I went up to Utica last week,” he remarked of a training trip, explaining that neighboring county clerks like Donna Benson of Orange County have been of tremendous help. “It was very good training.”
Of equal assistance, he said, have been the people who now work for him.
“I’ve met with the employees in [the Dept. of] Motor Vehicles and the county clerk’s office,” he said, “… to look for ways to make it more efficient and comfortable for them.”
Gilberg said a priority will be to ensure a comfortable working atmosphere for staff.
He’s also met with Real Property Tax Services Director Paul Burckard and Sheriff Michael Schiff and will soon confer with Public Safety Commissioner Dick Martinkovic.
But with a lifetime of hospitality skills at the ready, Gilberg’s top goal is to serve the public and expand upon community outreach programs, including increased office hours.
“My goal is to steer the ship,” he remarked. “I feel very comfortable with my people skills.”
Gilberg can be reached at 794-3000, ext. 5012.