Dan Hust | Democrat
The Democratic candidates for the Sullivan County Legislature were chosen Wednesday and include, front row from the left, Ira Steingart for District 8, Cindy Gieger for District 5, Kathy LaBuda for District 2 and Cora Edwards for District 6; and back row from the left, Scott Samuelson for District 1, Gene Benson for District 7, JJ Pavese for District 9, Jonathan Rouis for District 4 and Elwin Wood for District 3.
Democrats announce platform and their slate for Legislature
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO The county’s Democrats now officially have candidates in the running for all nine County Legislature positions this fall.
They’re running on a 10-point platform that leaders confirmed at Wednesday’s convention includes an anti-fracking stance (see the statement near the end of this article).
Scott Samuelson, who’s spent much of his 26-year business career operating the Bradstan Country Hotel in White Lake, earned the party’s nomination to replace outgoing Democratic Legislator David Sager in District 1, which includes the towns of Tusten, Cochecton, Bethel and part of Delaware.
“We’re having a much tougher time than we’ve had in the past,” acknowledged Samuelson. “... [But] Sullivan County has been very, very good to me over the years, and I have not given up on it yet.”
Incumbent District 2 Legislator Kathy LaBuda of Wurtsboro promised to reaffirm the faith voters in Mamakating, Forestburgh, Lumberland and Highland have had in her for more than the past decade.
“It’s been a long but exciting journey for me,” she said. “... It means a lot to me that you still have confidence in me after 12 years of me representing you.”
Incumbent District 3 Legislator Elwin “Woody” Wood of Roscoe is now the Legislature’s vice chairman, and as such, he said he works hard to keep the lines of communication open between communities both within and without his represented area of Rockland, Neversink and part of Liberty.
“We’ve got to look forward on what we can do with the county,” he urged.
Legislature Chairman Jonathan Rouis of Burlingham is the District 4 incumbent, representing most of Mamakating, and he was grateful to be nominated alongside the list of other candidates.
“I’m proud to stand next to them,” he said. “... We’re going to give a hell of a fight.”
Fifth-generation Sullivan County resident Cindy Gieger threw her hat into the ring for the District 5 seat being vacated by Democrat Frank Armstrong, representing Fremont, Callicoon and parts of Liberty and Delaware.
The Sullivan County Community College alumnus and former county nurse said she’s proud of her home.
“I came back to Sullivan County from college for a good reason ... our quality of life,” she told the crowd at Mr. Willy’s.
She plans to focus on reducing tax-exempt properties and increasing agriculture.
Swan Lake grantwriter and New York University professor Cora Edwards garnered the District 6 nomination, representing much of Liberty and a sliver of Fallsburg.
“I love Sullivan County,” she stated. “... I want to extend that feeling of fulfilling our potential throughout the county. ... I think the people of Sullivan County deserve more than good ideas. We really need to enjoy the fruits of our hard work.”
Aiming to capture the District 7 seat (most of Fallsburg and a corner of Neversink) is Fallsburg wastewater operator Gene Benson.
“We have to bring the county around,” he remarked, seconding the promises made by prior speakers. “I think together we can do all of this. We just have to work very hard.”
Fourth-generation South Fallsburg businessman Ira Steingart earned the District 8 nomination, currently held by retiring Democrat Ron Hiatt, who represents portions of both Fallsburg and Thompson.
“I’ll deal in front of everybody,” Steingart vowed. “... I’ll be upfront. You may not like my decision, but I won’t say one thing and do another.”
Monticello’s John “JJ” Pavese Jr. is eager to serve most of Thompson as its District 9 rep.
“I have Thompson on the brain,” the engineer and entrepreneur admitted.
He promised to push for more efficiency and consolidation in county and town government.
“I want to serve my community. I want to make it better.”
The 10-Point Pledge
Party leaders unveiled their “10-Point Pledge to Sullivan County” at Wednesday’s gathering:
1. Fiscal responsibility and integrity
2. Promote property tax relief
3. Develop new economic policies for growth, development and business retention
4. Open and accountable government, including full board night meetings
5. Support sustainable energy and safely utilize our natural resources
6. Support law enforcement for a safe, secure Sullivan County
7. Support labor and unions, local veterans and senior citizens
8. Organize with other counties to address unfunded statewide mandates
9. Promote agricultural growth and agri-tourism
10. Educational opportunities for all
Several party members advocated adding an anti-fracking point to that list, but party leader Larysa Dyrszka said that was covered under point #5.
“We have taken a strong position against hydrofracking,” she explained, referring to a resolution made by the party and other groups about six months ago.