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Frank DeMayo

DeMayo Pulls Switch, Leaves Democrats

By Jeanne Sager
LIBERTY — July 27, 2007 — He’s walking away from partisanship, and Frank DeMayo refused to point fingers when he announced his decision to leave the Democratic party this week.
He ran as a Democrat four years ago, and this November DeMayo will still officially be a Democrat.
But the Liberty supervisor is running on the Independence line with additional endorsement from the Republican party in Liberty.
And come Nov. 7, DeMayo will officially be a member of the Independence Party.
According to Rodney Gaebel, Republican commissioner of the Sullivan County Board of Elections, state law allows residents to switch their party at any time.
But it does not become official until after the general election, Gaebel explained, which precludes people from voting in the primaries held by their new party or signing election petitions prior to the November vote.
DeMayo said his reasons are personal, but not linked to any one person.
“I don’t want to tweak anyone, I have nothing against individuals within either party,” he said.
Simply put, he’s sick of partisanship.
“Partisan ideas bog down the work you’re trying to accomplish,” he said.
Since being elected to supervisor on the Democratic line four years ago, DeMayo has ruffled the feathers of the hierarchy of the party in more than one public battle.
The most recent was a town board decision DeMayo admitted was handled badly.
When Sean Hanofee left his position on the board, the Democrats asked DeMayo to back Clarence Barber as an appointee to finish out his term.
DeMayo said he initially agreed, but the board ultimately decided that with three months left until the election, they’d prefer to leave the decision up to the voters.
“I’m not proud of the way it was handled,” DeMayo said. “At the time, I didn’t really know Clarence, and to me it was like asking me to hire someone I didn’t know.”
Barber has since been elected and worked side-by-side with DeMayo and become what the supervisor calls “an excellent councilman.”
DeMayo said he felt similar pressures from the party to back a Democratic town clerk after long-time clerk Janet LeRoy retired.
LeRoy, a Republican, had been elected by the voters. The woman considered (and ultimately chosen) to fill her shoes had spent nine years as her deputy.
DeMayo said it came down to who was most qualified for the position. The board’s choice was Laurie Dutcher, a Republican who will be running in this year’s election to try to retain her seat.
“When I ran four years ago, I was an independent,” DeMayo said. “But I’m a realist, I knew I needed major party backing.”
His views ran closest to the Democrats, and they offered him the endorsement.
He took it, ran and won.
Since then, DeMayo said he’s voted the way he thought he should.
“Quite frankly, I make decisions based on what I feel is right for the town,” he said. “I have a problem with being pushed to make a decision along party lines.
“I don’t want to get bogged down with party politics; I see it happen in Albany, I see it happen in Washington.”
In the past four years, Liberty has made great strides, DeMayo said.
But true to his word, he refused to discredit his predecessors.
“This is certainly not a knock on [them],” he said. “Things were different then.”
DeMayo, who considers it luck that brought him to Sullivan County 15 years ago to give a presentation to Alan Gerry that landed him a full-time job, said he simply saw opportunity to use his experiences to better the community.
“We needed everybody to try to get on the same page,” he recalled. “That required somebody who had some experience on every level.”
Involved in Liberty’s Renaissance group ALIVE, a past member of the Liberty board of education and the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development, DeMayo said he was that guy.
In the past four years, the town has put up a new highway barn, seen a rebirth in Swan Lake, rehabbed the pool at Hanofee Park for the children, and perhaps most importantly crafted a new comprehensive plan.
Today there’s a community development group in Liberty and closer ties being forged every day with the Village of Liberty.
DeMayo said he’d like to say he was a part of that, but it’s not over.
“Four years ago, I just felt like I could contribute. I was really psyched, and I still am,” he said. “We’re only halfway through the process.
“In retrospect, if I’d run four years ago as an independent, I wouldn’t have had a shot,” he admitted. “I’m grateful I got this job, I love this job.
“I’ll never go out and make any promises to the public because you never know what’s going to happen,” he continued. “I want to lower taxes, and I’ll work hard to lower taxes, but I’m not going to make any promises.”
When he runs this November, DeMayo said he hopes Liberty voters look at his name on the Independence and Republican lines and support him as Frank DeMayo, the same guy they elected on the Democratic Party line four years ago.
“[Liberty voters] seem to be fairly independent thinkers,” he said. “They seem to vote for people they think will do the job for them.”
Fifteen years ago, DeMayo left Long Island for Liberty, and said you “couldn’t drag me out of here.”
He’s left the Democratic Party, but the same holds true for public office.
“I’m not done,” he said.

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