Incumbent New York State Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther is running against Gary Linton, who says his run for the Assembly seat is because "... everyone I’ve voted for has let me down."
Gunther faces first challenge in years
Incumbent aiming for fifth full term
Story by Dan Hust
SULLIVAN COUNTY The Gunther name is synonymous with NYS Assembly service in Sullivan County, first with the late Jake Gunther, now with his wife Aileen.
And even though the number on her district is changing from 98th to 100th and the Town of Neversink has been lost to the 101st in gerrymandered redistricting Aileen Gunther remains eager to represent the constituents she’s served for nearly a decade.
“My goal in Albany is to best represent the views, opinions and needs of the 100th Assembly District,” Gunther affirms.
A native of Orange County, she’s long been a Forestburgh resident and has become one of the region’s most recognizable politicians especially on healthcare issues, owing to her professional nursing background.
Both Gunther and her website, www.aileengunther.
com, tout her healthcare advocacy, including increasing cancer and heart disease awareness as chair of the Assembly Subcommittee on Women’s Health.
She also authored a law allowing nurses to supervise blood withdrawals in emergency rooms to aid hospitals with staffing issues.
Locally, she’s well-known as the presenter of Sullivan Renaissance’s annual Golden Feather Award, for which she and Jake helped secure funding.
The mother of three and grandmother of one, Gunther is an avid advocate for both her constituents and the environment, and she stands against fracking.
“I like what I’m doing,” she says, “and I think I’m very effective in my work.”
As an example, she points to her efforts to help create an autism assessment facility at the Center for Discovery in Harris.
“That would mean approximately 300 more jobs, which would be great for Sullivan County,” she remarks.
Gunther rejects claims from her Republican opponent, Gary Linton, that she’s merely a pawn of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
“I’m one of the most independent voices up there,” she says. “I vote for my constituents.”
For example, she voted against mortgage transfer taxes and has called for the removal of scandal-plagued Assemblyman Vito Lopez.
But she does tout her friendship with Governor Andrew Cuomo, praising him for working with the Legislature to address the state deficit, create a Medicaid growth cap, and work on ethics reform.
“I think we’re setting the example, and we are listening,” she insists. “We’re headed in the right direction, and we have to keep moving forward.”
If re-elected, Gunther is looking forward to “making sure we get our fair share in this district.”
She’s running on the Democratic, Working Families and Independence lines.
Gary Linton: ‘I am not a politician’
Story by Dan Hust
SULLIVAN COUNTY Gary Linton is as fed up with Albany as any New Yorker.
Difference is, he’s doing something about it: running for office.
“I am not a politician,” he affirms. “I’m doing this because everyone I’ve voted for has let me down.”
That includes Democratic Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, whom he’s challenging as a Republican for the 100th Assembly District.
Save for the Town of Neversink (which is now in the elongated 101st District), the new 100th covers all of Sullivan County and a portion of Orange, including the City of Middletown.
Like Gunther, Linton, 55, is a resident of Sullivan County, calling Burlingham home.
But the similarities end there. Linton portrays himself as an Albany outsider, one nowhere near as connected to the powerful, controversial Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver as Gunther.
And he views that as a very good thing.
“Her first vote every year is to keep Sheldon Silver speaker of the Assembly,” he laments. “Her voting record mirrors his.”
He blames his inability to gain the Independence line on Albany political pressure, but it hasn’t fazed him.
“I’m a results kind of guy. I love a challenge,” he affirms.
Linton is hoping voters will let him take on what is certainly a major challenge reforming state government.
As both a past executive director of the Tri-State Chamber of Commerce and a former corrections/
court/patrol officer, Linton says he knows how to get that job done, especially if voters across the state replace incumbents with newcomers like him.
“There are a lot of people running this year that have never run before,” he points out.
The husband and father of three currently works in Pennsylvania but affirms that he’s read every bill now and recently in front of the State Legislature, and he’s eager to put that knowledge to work.
He’s also informed on local issues for example, he supports gas drilling but only if it’s absolutely safe. And townships themselves, he says, should determine whether they want it or not.
The tax burden, however, is one of the biggest issues anywhere in the state, so Linton is already looking into declaring a moratorium on unfunded state mandates or, as in the case of school districts, consolidating five duplicative mandates into one.
“Everybody considers the mandates the head of the snake,” he explains. “... Our individual tax rate is the worst in the country!”
That, he says, has led 3.4 million people to leave the state in the past decade representing $76.5 billion in lost revenue.
“If it were up to me, I’d lower taxes on everybody,” he adds, “because that stimulates the economy.”
As for his own finances, he’s no rich guy even in the campaign.
“I have not taken any special-interest money,” he adds. “The only people I want to owe are my constituents.
“All I’m asking for is a chance to try.”
He’s running on the Republican and Conservative lines, and to find out more, check out his website at www.garylinton.com.