By Frank Rizzo
BLOOMINGBURG Everyone knew the line was coming, but thanks to her inflection and timing, Aileen Gunther drew thunderous cheers when she pronounced, “I am proud to announce today that I will be running for re-election to the New York State Assembly.”
Adulation and acclamation for the political veteran were on the menu, along with finger foods and sandwiches, at The Eagle’s Nest Sunday afternoon, where Gunther announced her bid for re-election.
A parade of political figures from Sullivan and Orange Counties, culminating with Congressman Maurice Hinchey, lauded Gunther’s work ethic, concern for and effectiveness on behalf of her constituents and legislative record.
“During my time in Washington, it has been critical for me to have trusted and effective partners to work with at the State level, and I’m very pleased to have had just such a partner in Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther,” Hinchey said. “She has passed more bills, and had more bills become law, than any other Assembly member in the Hudson Valley region, and she is making a very positive difference in our local communities and our State.”
Gunther, 58, succeeded husband Jacob III after his death in 2003, winning a special election that November and breezing to re-election ever since.
“Being your Assemblywoman has not been about the marble floors in Albany; it’s about the kitchen floors at home. It’s not about three men in a room, but about your children in their playroom. I have never and will never forget that the work that I do in Albany has a very real impact at home,” Gunther said.
In seeking her fifth full term, Gunther will be facing opposition for the first time since 2004, and it will no longer be in the familiar 98th district.
With redistricting, Gunther, a Democratic-Conservative from Forestburgh, will be running in the new 100th district. It includes all of Sullivan except the Town of Neversink, and several townships in Orange County, along with the City of Middletown.
The Town of Mamakating Supervisor, Harold Baird, and Bloomingburg’s Gary Linton, a retired Orange County Sheriff's Office investigator, have announced their intention to challenge Gunther from the Republican side.
But her opponents were not mentioned Sunday afternoon, in which Gunther repeatedly asked her supporters to “Join the A team.”
Judging from the enthusiasm in the room she could be assured of votes from every one of the 100-plus people in that aerie eatery.