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Jonathan Rouis

On Track to Succeed

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — December 21, 2007 — So who will succeed Chris Cunningham as Chair of the Sullivan County Legislature?
Would you be surprised to hear it’s already been decided?
Though the “official” vote to name a chair and vice chair can’t occur until all elected and re-elected legislators are sitting next month, both Democrats and Republicans know exactly who will hold those titles in 2008.
“My expectation would be Jonathan Rouis” as chair, said Cunningham, who plans to attend the January 3, 10 a.m. swearing-in ceremony.
Every other legislator, current and future, agreed (District 9 successor Alan Sorensen couldn’t be reached).
Rouis, who represents most of the Town of Mamakating as District 4 Legislator, confirmed he had expressed an interest in it – also confirming District 8 Legislator Ron Hiatt would be tabbed as vice chair.
Though several sources said Hiatt had initially wanted the chairmanship, Majority Leader and District 2 Legislator Kathy LaBuda said the two would work well together, with Hiatt’s experience matched by Rouis’ prowess in accounting.
“Next year’s going to be a very, very challenging budget,” she predicted. “We all have to come to some kind of an agreement [as a Legislature]… and meet as a whole.”
That may be tough, considering District 6 Legislator Jodi Goodman and incoming District 1 Legislator David Sager expressed disappointment that Republicans were not included in preparatory talks about legislative leadership.
“Quite honestly, we weren’t included in the conversation,” said Sager.
But he vowed to keep an open mind and work with Rouis.
“He’s a sharp guy,” Sager remarked.
Rouis promised a bipartisan atmosphere would prevail.
“Most of the issues we face aren’t Democratic, aren’t Republican,” he explained. “They’re what’s best for Sullivan County.”

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