Dan Hust/Dan Hust/Contributed | Democrat
David Rosenberg, left, Gordon Jenkins, center, and Victor Marinello, right, have all announced their intention to serve as the Village Mayor for the Village of Monticello.
Want to be 'his honor'
Hopes to build on his legacy
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Monticello Mayor Gordon Jenkins doesn’t hesitate when asked why he’s seeking a second four-year term.
“I want to continue what I started,” he affirms.
That includes the renovation of the village hall, a series of low-to-zero tax and fee increases, and the construction of a new youth center.
But the 51-year-old also admits to a certain uncontainable energy.
“Instead of me sitting back, watching, I’m involved,” Jenkins explains. “I’m hands-on. You can’t come just to pick up a check.”
His life has been an active one, from serving in the military to working as a state corrections officer to being a boxer like his father before him.
But it’s also been a controversial one. Chief among the controversies was his 2010 arrest for selling fake Nike sneakers at his Broadway store, G-Man Beauty Supplies.
He pleaded guilty last year to five misdemeanor counts.
“I’m not ashamed of any of it,” Jenkins states. “It’s all political what happened to me.”
Nevertheless, Jenkins has detractors, critics, even haters. He’s fielded death threats and phone calls that were made only to call him a “f---ing n----r.”
“When you’re fighting against wrong, that’s when you’re going to catch hell,” he shrugs. “I don’t have any regrets.”
But he still has issues to face, including a police commission that’s deeply unpopular with the department it oversees.
He defends it as an accountability measure, something to give residents more confidence in their police department.
He denies allegations that he’s screamed at officers, arguing that the disrespect has been toward him, not vice-versa.
“I wanted to get with them and meet,” Jenkins recalls of pre-commission discussions to add foot patrols, “but it was like, ‘You don’t tell us what to do.’”
A cutting of overtime has been equally unpopular with officers, but Jenkins promotes that as a valuable cost-cutting measure, saving over $100,000.
“You have to run [the village] as a business,” he explains.
His fiercest critics blame him for a steady decline in Monticello, but he brushes that off.
“It’s only a handful of racist, vindictive people,” Jenkins says. “I’ve always been helping and caring and giving. What do they do?”
He defends himself as a job-creator (specifically citing the creation of 10 village positions for youth to pick up paper and other litter) and a project facilitator (i.e., bringing sidewalks to more of Route 42 and helping land a $15 million federal grant/loan to redo the village’s water/sewer infrastructure).
He also expects village-supported projects like Tommy Ting’s entertainment venue and an Aaron’s rental store to soon arrive.
“I fight for everyone in this village,” he says. “If no one helps anybody, then we’re doomed.”
Jenkins, who’s running on the Democratic and G-Man lines in Tuesday’s election, acknowledges the good intentions of his challengers, Republican David Rosenberg and Conservative Vic Marinello.
“I admire David for running he knows it’s a hard job,” Jenkins says. “And Victor is a nice guy, but he doesn’t have the leadership skills.”
As for the surrounding Town of Thompson, Jenkins says he maintains communication with Supervisor Tony Cellini.
“I’m a firm believer in consolidation and working together,” he explains.
But he’s not in favor of dissolution.
“When you dissolve, then you don’t have that personal service,” he says.
And serving the people is what being mayor is all about, Jenkins emphasizes.
“I take every complaint fresh off the bat,” he remarks. “I don’t judge anyone. I don’t play color. I treat everyone the same.”
As a result, he adds, “people in the village are so grateful because I help them, especially poor people.”
He maintains that he stands tough on important issues.
“People vote you in as the mayor, and you have to stick to your positions you can’t flip-flop with people. So if I say something is going to be done, it’ll be done.”
But Jenkins more enjoys lending a helping hand.
“That’s where it all pays off,” he explains. “People hug me, cry and say, ‘Thank you.’ And that’s worth all the money in the world.”
Wants to return to government
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO David Rosenberg was mayor of Monticello once for about six weeks during the infamous “musical chairs” incident more than 15 years ago.
He successfully emerged from that scandal to serve the village for a dozen years as a trustee.
Now the 58-year-old Republican is interested in returning to the village board, this time as its elected mayor.
“I think I have something to offer the village,” Rosenberg explains.
Make that several “somethings.”
The Monticello native is vice president of the Contract Bond Department of Cinium Financial Services in Rock Hill.
“I’m the senior underwriter,” he notes, helping people obtain bonding for municipal and commercial projects.
He’s better known locally as an architect, possessing a bachelor’s and a master’s in the field, both from the University at Buffalo. He’s been licensed for nearly two decades, and his work is evident in numerous area buildings.
Thus it’s no surprise that some of his ideas focus on infrastructure for example, creating a Monticello/
Greater Broadway Business Improvement District, funded with 50 percent of the village property taxes generated in the district, to make Broadway an attractive art, business and community corridor.
He points to Kauneonga Lake and Hurleyville’s revived downtowns as potential models.
“You can’t find a place to park,” he notes. “Wouldn’t that be nice if that happened in Monticello again?”
He advocates purchasing and reopening the shuttered Broadway Theater, then leasing it to the Monticello Business Association to operate year-round.
He’d like to turn the corner of Broadway and St. John Street into a “village commons,” complete with bandshell, gazebo and ice-skating rink.
“Broadway is empty,” he observes. “People think Monticello, in a sense, has gone out of business.”
But Rosenberg is also interested in village government itself and possibly the abolition thereof.
In a letter printed in the Democrat, he expressed interest in being Monticello’s “last mayor.” But in a recent interview, he was quick to add that further consolidation with the Town of Thompson is as preferable as outright dissolution of the village.
“Maybe we should have one building department,” he offers as an example.
“We have too many layers of government to begin with,” he insists. “... There’s no mystery why growth occurs outside the village.”
Yes, Rosenberg wants to decrease taxes and increase services, but in a way that’s planned. And he’d do that through Monticello’s dedicated employees.
“I never envisioned running the village day to day,” he remarks. “That’s why we do have department heads.”
Monticello also has a current mayor, Gordon Jenkins, who’s running for re-election.
“I’m not running against him,” says Rosenberg, who considers Jenkins a friend. “I’m running because I think I have something special to offer the village.”
Rosenberg remembers a bustling county seat that has obviously declined but he doesn’t blame it on Jenkins.
“It’s not his fault the world has changed,” Rosenberg says.
Nor does he blame Victor Marinello, the trustee who’s also in the running for Jenkins’ seat. Rosenberg, in fact, served with Marinello on the village board and ambulance corps.
Like Jenkins and Marinello, Rosenberg also sought the Democratic and Conservative endorsements but ultimately garnered just the Republicans’, of which he is a party member.
Nevertheless, his question remains: “What can we do together?”
“Come March 21, whoever is elected, I’d love to shake hands,” he says, “... and we’ll try to make Monticello a better place.”
Aiming high after 12 years
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Monticello native Victor “Vic” Marinello could have run to retain his village trustee seat.
Instead, he aimed for the spot occupied by Mayor Gordon Jenkins, who himself has mounted a re-election run.
That’s been a particularly challenging effort for Marinello, who lost the Democratic primary to Jenkins and will appear solely on the Conservative line on the March 20 ballots.
But he hasn’t given up.
“I’m running because we need a change,” says Marinello, “and I believe I can bring forth a lot of good things for the village.”
First up: abolishing the recently created police commission.
“I think it’s illegal,” he explains, arguing that the mayor should not be privy to people’s personal information. “... I honestly believe the police force should be treated with respect and left alone.”
He also believes the existing Human Rights Commission can handle any complaints about the police.
But he insists he’s not running on an anti-Jenkins campaign (or one against the other mayoral challenger, David Rosenberg).
Instead, he touts his 12 years of trustee experience, including four years as deputy mayor under Jenkins’ predecessor, Jim Barnicle.
“It was our work that brought in the K-9 Unit to the Monticello Police Department,” he says. “We also brought in the skateboard rink and the basketball court for the children of the community.”
Fishing trips for the kids and the development of an emergency management plan for the village also number among his stated accomplishments.
As a trustee, Marinello supported stopping the controversial Calpine plant, the landfill expansion and tractor-trailer parking in the village’s residential areas.
“I’ve always kept taxes at a minimum,” he adds, pointing out this year’s zero percent increase and a series of sanitation bill decreases. “... And I’ve never asked for a raise from the village. If you don’t like the job and its salary, don’t take the job.”
Marinello, through his votes, has helped bring in millions of dollars in grants to Monticello and considers himself a strong supporter of the racino, the Cops in Schools program, and more local jobs, especially along Broadway.
“I’ve been working on that Broadway project since 2000,” he says, along with a truck route that now takes big rigs on better paths through Monticello.
If elected mayor, Marinello promises to resurrect the Business Appreciation Award and solicit companies to open on Broadway.
“What good is the beautiful Broadway project without businesses to fill the storefronts?” he points out.
He also vows to put more cops on the streets.
“I’ll have zero tolerance on gangs in the community,” he affirms.
Under Barnicle, Marinello advocated for consolidation with the Town of Thompson (merging treasurer positions to save thousands of dollars), but he disagrees with Rosenberg’s idea to dissolve the village.
“I think that’s wrong,” he says. “I think it’s selling the village out to the highest bidder by handing it over to the town.”
Monticello has been a part of Marinello’s life for his entire 49 years, save for a three-year stint in the Army (including a year in South Korea and two months in Honduras).
Honorably discharged from his combat soldier duties, Marinello returned to his hometown and became a medical assistant and certified phlebotomist with Sullivan Internal Medicine.
As an EMT, he also served with MobileMedic. Thirty years ago, he was awarded for rescuing three people from drowning on Swinging Bridge Reservoir.
Proud father of a daughter, Marinello is a 25-year Monticello Elk and has been a member of the Masons, Kiwanis and both the local fire department and ambulance corps.
“I love my community and where I live,” he affirms.
And he wants to continue to be one of its primary role models.
“I just think the mayor has to set a good example for the children of the community,” he explains. “They’re our future, and they need somebody they can look up to.”