Democrat Photos | Jeanne Sager
LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT 5 incumbent Frank Armstrong, a Democrat, is being challenged by Allen Hauser, a Republican.
Armstrong Faces Hauser in District 5
Incumbent Knows What District Needs
By Jeanne Sager
BUCKBROOK October 26, 2007 Frank Armstrong wants to finish what he’s started.
The incumbent in the race for the District 5 seat on the Sullivan County Legislature was just appointed in March when long-time Legislator Rodney Gaebel took another position at the government center.
Approached with both the legislative job and a possible appointment to the county clerk’s seat, Armstrong said he said yes to legislator because he knew what was important to the residents of District 5.
“It was like stepping into something where you were taking care of your own house,” Armstrong explained.
Raised in Briscoe by a single mom after his father died when he was just 9-months-old, Armstrong has lived somewhere in the district all but the four years he spent serving in the United States Army.
A past mayor of the Village of Jeffersonville and past justice in the Town of Fremont, Armstrong currently lives in the Buck Brook area of Fremont with wife Patty.
Their daughter Katie, son-in-law Dan and grandson Kade have moved into a mother-daughter situation in their home, and son Peter lives just down the road.
He raised his children with the same philosophy after traveling the world in the Army, he decided Sullivan County is the place to be.
“When people run away, they’re looking at the struggle and saying it could be less of a struggle somewhere else, but I think there’s a lot worth saving here,” he noted.
Going door-to-door in his campaign, Armstrong has been saddened by the people moving out of Sullivan County after generations of life right here.
“People who have real roots here are talking about leaving because of the taxes, because things are different and they’re losing the culture they’re used to,” he said.
Armstrong has spent a fair amount of time in the county seat as a member of the village police force for 27 years and more recently in his appointed position working for the Sullivan County Veterans Service Agency, which he gave up to take on the legislative job in March.
While that’s provided a unique look at county-wide issues he believes gambling, for one, will bring nothing but heartache Armstrong said it’s also heightened his awareness of what makes District 5 tick.
“The county has to understand we’re not the red-headed stepchild out here,” he said.
Water and flooding issues are here to stay. Development pressures need to be addressed, and the county’s agricultural backbone braced back up.
The state’s decision to award the Myers farm in District 5 monies to purchase development rights is a good step, Armstrong said, but the definition of farmland and open space worthy of preservation needs to be widened.
“If agriculture is our greatest industry, we need to look at saving all kinds of agricultural land,” he explained.
That means preserving the fields used for haying and protecting the niche farming operations.
The county needs to think bigger when it comes to the landfill in Monticello too, he said.
“The future for the waste streams is going to change,” Armstrong explained. “Each day technology is improving to deal with waste.
“We have to look at long-term solutions; if you look hard enough, you may find the solutions to our short-term problems.”
In a nutshell, that’s Armstrong’s approach to government.
“If you’re going to sit there as a legislator, you really need to have an open mind and look at every issue as it comes along,” he explained.
As mayor of Jeff, Armstrong said he initiated the plan to rid the village of its justice court, a plan later approved by voters that saved significant tax dollars.
Consolidation and cooperation are hot issues and often touchy subjects.
But Armstrong said they need to be looked at.
“I don’t think political entities should lose their political identity,” he cautioned, referencing the weighted voting system of the board of supervisors that once limited the voices of District 5 residents.
But coalitions, especially in the far-flung areas of the county, can be beneficial.
Although he’s running as a Democrat and Conservative, Armstrong said he remains accessible to everyone.
His run for Sheriff two years ago although ultimately a failure taught him that his success is in being true to himself.
“Why should you vote for me? I feel that I’m doing this for you, and in doing it for you, I’m helping myself, I’m helping the place that’s most important to me,” Armstrong said. “If I couldn’t do the job, I wouldn’t be here.
“I’m sincere, sometimes hokey,” he said with a grin. “I feel you’ve got to say what you believe through me, it’s a chance for the people to get their voices heard.”
Armstrong likens being a politician to driving a limousine.
The limo is bureaucracy, and he’s inviting the public for a ride.
“I want the citizens to come onboard and tell me where they want to go.”
Hauser Has Strong Opinions on County
By Jeanne Sager
YOUNGSVILLE There’s something to be said for being the new kid on the block.
Allen Hauser hasn’t held political office before, but he’s his own man.
“I don’t have a political career, but I don’t owe anyone anything,” said the Republican candidate for the Sullivan County Legislature’s District 5 seat. “I don’t have appointments to repay someone for.
“I run I either win or lose but I go into office owing nothing,” he explained.
This soft-spoken native is running because he owes it to himself and his family.
Raised on a dairy farm just across from his Youngsville home, Hauser believes in Sullivan County.
A 1961 graduate of the Jeff-Youngsville Central School District, Hauser stuck around after high school.
He ran the family farm for a few years before taking a job with NYSEG, then moving on to the Teamster’s union.
Married to the former Lorraine Gebelein, another local graduate, Hauser settled down in his hometown to raise their two children, Troy and Amy.
As federal funding dried up for the bridge and roadwork that kept the bills paid when Hauser was working for the union, he decided to stick closer to home.
For 20 years, Hauser Sand and Gravel operated in Youngsville, with a car wash next door. He’s served on the Town of Callicoon Zoning Board of Appeals, been a member of the Elks for 30 years and a lifelong hunter.
Troy and Amy grew up, graduated from their father’s alma mater, and eventually settled down in houses near their parents. Allen sold the business and at 63 finds himself not working for the first time in his life.
“I do the social security thing and wash cars,” he said with a laugh.
Retirement has given him the chance to focus on one of his greatest passions Sullivan County. This is his first chance to dedicate real time to a job in the government, the time he says the constituents of District 5 deserve.
What Hauser calls the county’s “rural character of living” is one of its chief assets.
“Local people complain very little; they are used to working for a living,” he explained. “This county should prosper because the people here will do what they have to do to survive.”
It’s a story he knows firsthand. Raised on a dairy farm, he’s watched the agricultural industry dwindle. He got out, but he’s watched some families battle every obstacle and come marching out of the barn ready to tackle another day.
Some dairy farms have taken to making cheeses. Others turned out the milkers in favor of beef cattle.
“They’ve adapted,” Hauser said.
That’s what Sullivan County has to do.
“You can’t just plug along in (one) direction,” he explained. “As far as the county, you can’t find a nicer place to live, but right where I’m living we’re seeing things we used to talk about seeing in Monticello and Liberty 10 years ago.
“It’s here, and somebody has got to deal with it,” Hauser said. “It’s a fact that our hotels are gone.
“They’ve spent a lot of time trying to bring that back,” he continued, shaking his head. “Now, you can’t throw tourism out the window. Our second homes put a lot of people to work.
“BUT,” Hauser cautioned. “For funding, you can’t go 90 percent tourism, 10 percent business.”
The key to building a Sullivan County for the future is wooing industry, building on businesses with green technology and capitalizing on the computer industry.
Hauser knows he’s lucky to have his children and grandchildren nearby most kids aren’t staying in town.
“The big problem? There’s no jobs here, and those that are here are minimum-wage pay,” he explained. “You have to have a job here. It doesn’t matter if you rent or own, but you’ve got to do one or the other and it costs money.
“The days of one-income families are over,” Hauser continued.
But the county needs to look at its workforce and make some hard choices, he noted.
As an employer, Hauser faced the constant challenge of finding good, reliable employees.
“Companies look at coming here and look at the workforce and aren’t impressed,” he explained. “Yet you can’t hire reliable people if you don’t want to pay them anything that’s been the problem in Sullivan County for 40 years.”
Hauser’s goal is to work with the Sullivan County Partnership and other organizations that stress smart development.
Farming still plays a role in District 5, the bulk of which is in the western end of the county, and Hauser said he’ll be a voice for the farmer in Monticello.
He also promises to be a voice for young families who are looking for options, looking for good jobs and lower taxes.
Stabilizing the county’s taxes is a big focus of the Republican Party this election season, and Hauser joins with them in calling for responsibility on the county level.
Although the landfill in Monticello is outside of his district, he said it’s a big issue for the entire county one that requires better monitoring and an increase in the enforcement of recycling.
Hauser is also cognizant of the role the Sheriff’s Office plays for the county at large and he’s fully behind Sheriff Michael Schiff’s efforts to bring the county’s police force into the 21st century.
Living in District 5, there’s a tendency for residents to look at Monticello and the county seat as another world, Hauser said.
But his aim is to bring District 5 to Monticello and shift the Legislature’s focus to the issues that affect the entire western end of the county.
“Why should you vote for me?” he asked. “Honest, open government. Open is the big thing I think there’s too much closed door stuff out there [in Monticello].”