Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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April 30th, 2010

David Sager takes on John Bonacic

Just when you thought all the excitement this year would be on the County Court Judge’s race, the secret is finally out.

Maverick Sullivan County Legislator David Sager wants to be our next State Senator, and he is running as a Democrat against Republican incumbent John Bonacic.

Sager has continually found his political views on national and state issues opposite from the Republican Party, and has been contemplating becoming a Democrat for some time.

Thanks to the leadership of Democratic County Chairman Steven Wilkinson and recent changes he made within the Democratic Committee, along with his new working relationship with legislators Jonathan Rouis and Elwin Wood, Sager felt it was time.

Switching political affiliation is nothing new to Sullivan County politics. Several years ago we saw legislators Leni Binder, Jodi Goodman, and Bob Kunis switch to the Republican Party. They said although they were Democrats at heart, they could no longer be involved in local Democratic politics due to internal disputes.

Perhaps Sager’s move will once again open the door for Binder, Goodman, and Kunis to return to their Democratic roots.

Sager says he is running for the State Senate because he is frustrated with Bonacic’s stand on a number of issues and what he calls “a poor track record in writing legislation, providing constituent services and leadership.” I am certain Bonacic will have a lot to say about that.

The “Million Dollar Question” of course will be if Sager can beat the popular and likable incumbent who is entering his twelfth year in the Senate.

We consistently hear from the media that people want elected officials out of office, but are they really speaking about their own representatives or someone else’s?

Although political registration in the Senate District is highly Democratic, voters have continually crossed party lines to elect Bonacic. This time it might be different because Sager is from Sullivan County, and will be running on a strong Democratic ticket that will include names like Charles Schumer, Andrew Cuomo, Aileen Gunther, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Maurice Hinchey.

Political observers will note two years ago when both Gunther and Bonacic ran unopposed, the drop off in votes from Gunther to Bonacic was significant, proving a Democratic stronghold. Of course, it was also the year of Barack Obama.

Four years ago when Bonacic ran against Ulster County legislator Susan Zimet, Sullivan County voters helped him win. Zimet is also considering a run, even though it would be more difficult for her to win.

Bonacic has continually delivered pork, and he is loved by such people as our firefighters for doing so. He has also been an outspoken advocate for Casino Gaming in Sullivan County.

Bonacic is well connected, highly financed, and has been preparing for some time to take his gloves off in a “Political Battle Royale.”

Sager will most likely be a formidable challenger. He has already proven he has the ability to attract voters that cross party lines. He is a good grassroots campaigner who is not afraid to take on the issues. Sager is the type of politician that can rock the boat in Albany. He is not the typical two faced politician.

As a member of the legislature, Sager has been viewed as an honest hard worker not afraid to roll up his sleeves to tackle important issues such as the landfill, jail, and ethics reform.

To his credit, Sager had the guts and fortitude to organize a successful challenge to the voter registration drive of a summer community in Bethel.

Although he has been exposed as being brusque, it can work to his benefit. Voters appear to be fed up with Albany and might want to elect someone who can be viewed as a fighter for the people.

We can expect Sager to take up the battle of tax exempt properties, gas drilling (hydrofracking), educational funding, and tax and ethics reform during the campaign.

Both John Bonacic and David Sager are good people, and are worthy of elective office. Personally, I would have liked to have seen Bonacic seek a statewide position.

Hopefully the race will lead to open and honest discussion of the issues and not be one of mudslinging, fear tactics, or false media campaigns. Elections and political debates when they stay on course is a healthy thing.

Let the campaign begin.

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