By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO More than a dozen political candidates and their supporters gathered at the Government Center in Monticello last Tuesday to announce the creation of the “Rural Heritage” ballot line.
“It denotes something that’s handed down from the past,” explained Steve Lundgren, who’s running for Delaware Town Supervisor this fall.
It’s not a traditional organized party there’s no chair or commiteepeople, and anyone who wants to run on the line has to individually petition the county Board of Elections with the appropriate amount of signatures.
Cindy Gieger, who’s seeking the District 5 County Legislator seat, explained the platform as one that includes “small, rural, private-sector businesses,” including farms.
“For too long, I believe we’ve waited for a magic bullet to come in the form of big business,” she told the audience.
“There’s room for that big bullet,” Gieger admitted in an interview after the press conference. “There’s absolutely room for that, but on the rural end of the county, we’re not about that.”
Instead, she and others said, Rural Heritage is about generating jobs from individuals and businesses already here especially in agriculture, tourism and healthcare.
“I think there’s a very positive message here: that Sullivan County can save itself with the resources and talent we already have,” added Bruce Ferguson, a candidate for Callicoon Town Supervisor.
Those involved in Rural Heritage also aim to make the political dialogue non-partisan.
“Everybody will have their own opinion,” Gieger acknowledged, “but we’ve got to find more ways to work together more effectively.
“We’re at a crossroads here where we have to change our current method of how we’re making decisions,” she remarked. “... I need to put my residents above conflicts.”
When asked if Rural Heritage is for or against drilling, Lundgren and company said that’s up to each candidate.
“There’s going to be a dozen different opinions [on drilling],” Lundgren explained, adding he had not quizzed his compatriots on their stances.
Speakers said their focus is on what Rural Heritage is for, rather than against, though there were hints on their drilling stances.
“We have very, very valuable resources here,” said Ferguson. “... What we have here is almost unique. We want to build out a sustainable future and have a county people want to live in 10, 20, 30 years from now.”
“The choice of our name is deliberate,” added Lundgren. “It’s ‘Rural Heritage,’ not ‘Industrial Heritage’.”
Rural Heritage’s candidates thus far encompass local Democrats, Republicans and Independents:
• Cindy Gieger running for District 5 County Legislator
• Bruce Ferguson running for Callicoon Town Supervisor
• Linda Babicz running for Callicoon Town Board
• Jill Wiener running for Callicoon Town Board
• Claudine Luchsinger running for Cochecton Town Supervisor
• Steven Lundgren running for Delaware Town Supervisor
• Marc Dubrovsky running for Delaware Town Board
• John Murphy running for Delaware Town Board
• Richard Reid running for Delaware Town Board
• Carol Wingert running for Tusten Town Supervisor
• Andrea Reynosa running for Tusten Town Board
• Glenn Swendsen running for Tusten Highway Superintendent
• Kate Bowers running for Fremont Town Board.