By Dan Hust
CALLICOON Lamenting the county’s dwindling reserves and fiscal crisis, Sullivan County Republican Committee Chairman Dick Coombe promised the GOP faithful that this fall’s Republican candidates can bring a new openness, accountability and business-friendly attitude to the county, if elected.
“We promise to develop a four-year plan that will dig the county out of the mess it’s in,” he remarked at Wednesday’s GOP convention at the Villa Roma in Callicoon. “... If you want to change the county, we’re offering you an opportunity.”
Nearly a dozen county elected positions are up for grabs this November, including the entire County Legislature, currently under Democratic control. As of Wednesday night, Republicans now have candidates for each seat.
• County Clerk Dan Briggs, though unable to be present, was unanimously nominated to again be the GOP’s candidate of choice.
• County Coroner Alan Kesten also earned unanimous approval in his re-election bid.
• With the District 1 Legislator race wide open, Narrowsburg businessman Rick Lander was put forth as the Republican’s top man.
“I think the county has lost its direction,” he charged, a common theme of the evening. “... I follow politics quite closely, and I don’t have a clue where we’re going.”
• For the Democratically-held District 2 Legislator seat, Eldred’s John Sundholm a former deputy supervisor in the Town of Highland and an Air Force veteran threw his hat in the ring.
“I’m here to work for all you people,” he remarked to the crowd.
• For District 3 Legislator, Republicans nominated Kitty Vetter of Willowemoc, a nurse at Catskill Regional Medical Center and a former lobbyist in Albany on healthcare issues.
“Our county needs more improvement, and it cannot afford more taxes,” she stated, hoping to draw more families and young people to the area.
• Four years ago, there was no GOP candidate for District 4 Legislator, but former 24-year Mamakating Town Councilman Nick Salomone Jr. is ready to run this year.
“I’m running because I know how to say ‘no’ to a budget, an expense,” the retired telephone company staff manager pointed out. “... We have to think four years ahead of time where we’re heading.”
• District 5 legislative candidate Gregg Semenetz had already announced his intentions, which the former Town of Callicoon supervisor made official Wednesday.
He promised a vigorous campaign, pointing to the loss of people and jobs in the area.
“So really, our campaign is not for us,” he said. “It’s for our kids.”
• District 6 incumbent Legislator Jodi Goodman of Liberty was warmly welcomed by the crowd.
“We have to live within our means,” she insisted. “We are not doing that.”
• Like Goodman, incumbent District 7 Legislator Leni Binder is seeking re-election.
“We have proven, together with Alan Sorensen, we have been the voice of reason in the Sullivan County Legislature,” the Woodridge resident boasted.
Criticizing the Democrats for the past eight years of majority leadership, she remarked, “It is critical that the next four years turn this county around.”
• District 8 Legislator is another race to watch, and the GOP found the rare young person eager to serve.
“I have to say ... I am in love with Sullivan County,” South Fallsburg native Amanda Ward acknowledged. “And when you’re in love with something, you stick with it through good and bad.”
A former athlete, reporter and now Center for Discovery employee, Ward got a celebrity’s welcome Wednesday.
“I want to inspire Sullivan County with my pride, hope and vision to bring back pride in Sullivan County,” she said.
• Incumbent District 9 Legislator Alan Sorensen joined Binder and Goodman in planning to stay on the Legislature another four years.
“Over the last eight years, I’ve watched the county’s surpluses slowly slip away,” the Rock Hill planner said, promising to focus on development efforts like the Apollo and on balanced budgets that avoid using “rainy day” fund balances.
Dems need candidates
By Dan Hust
SULLIVAN COUNTY Newly named Sullivan County Democratic Committee Chairman Darryl Kaplan confirmed this week that he’s looking for candidates for at least four of the nine County Legislature seats.
“We’re searching for competent people to step forward,” he acknowledged, hoping some might be enticed by the fact that this is paid public service approximately $21,000 a year per legislator, plus family insurance coverage.
The Democrats currently hold a majority on the Legislature, but with likely three of the incumbents stepping down at the end of this year, Kaplan is casting a wide net for willing candidates.
In District 1, Democratic incumbent Dave Sager has chosen not to run for re-election, leaving a hole in a race that already features a Republican challenger.
“Currently we don’t have anyone,” Kaplan acknowledged.
Districts 2, 3 and 4 do feature Democratic incumbents ready to run again: in respective order, Kathy LaBuda, Elwin “Woody” Wood and Jonathan Rouis.
District 5, however, is the biggest uncertainty, with incumbent Frank Armstrong still waffling on whether or not to run again.
Anticipating a decision by Armstrong not to run, Kaplan said Jeffersonville farmer Cindy Gieger and Fremont Town Supervisor Jim Greier are both interested in the Democratic candidacy, though Greier told him he won’t force a primary if Gieger goes forward.
When reached Wednesday, Greier confirmed that if either Armstrong or Gieger want to run, he’ll step out of the way.
“I’ve been through the mill, and primaries don’t work,” the former county Democratic chairman remarked. “You have to have a solid candidate from the get-go.”
Greier is thus waiting for the early April caucusing of the involved town committees: Callicoon, Delaware, Fremont and Liberty.
Liberty is also shared by Districts 3 and 6.
“In District 6, as of this moment, we have no one,” Kaplan confirmed.
Same goes for Districts 7 and 9.
Incumbent District 8 Democrat Ron Hiatt is instead considering a run for county clerk, according to Kaplan.
When contacted Wednesday, however, Hiatt wasn’t so sure.
“Heck, I never even wanted to be a legislator!” he admitted.
Though apparently likely to decline, Hiatt promised he would think about entering the clerk’s race.
Regardless, in the District 8 race (which will be contested), the Democrats do have a candidate, in the form of South Fallsburg businessman Ira Steingart.
Those interested in running for these county-level positions are welcome to contact Kaplan at 794-2910.