Maurice Hinchey has been one of the most respectable and honorable members of the House of Representatives. Hinchey was always true to his word and never forgot the people who got him elected. Unlike other politicians, Maurice Hinchey was no phony. That is why it is especially difficult to accept the fact that come next year he will be gone from elective office.
Hinchey’s recent announcement that he will not seek re-election is understandable after such a distinguished career, but his retirement will be a significant loss to Sullivan County.
During his two decades in Congress, Hinchey has been one of the most accessible public servants working tirelessly and endlessly for his constituents.
I spent a great deal of time speaking to staff and researching Hinchey’s record. I must admit I was amazed that one man could accomplish so much for so many people. His record of achievement for Sullivan County, New York State and our great nation is monumental.
Hinchey fought for seniors needing help with Social Security, veterans seeking assistance with their benefits, and families facing endless paperwork for passport, visa and immigration issues.
A champion for local economic development, Hinchey pioneered opportunities to improve the Hudson Valley’s economy. Hinchey established Sullivan County as a REAP Zone, resulting in millions of dollars in federal assistance for economic development and infrastructure projects.
Hinchey worked intensely with the late Senator Patrick Moynihan to designate Route 17 as I-86, authorizing significant federal funding for the roadway’s upgrade. Once the highway is converted into an Interstate, Sullivan County will once again be placed on the national map, and the opportunity will be there for us to reap.
As a leading member of the Appropriations Committee, Hinchey delivered critical funding to CRMC, health clinics, the Center for Discovery, Sullivan County Community College, Bethel Woods, and drinking water and sewer projects in many local townships.
Whether it was new lighting for Monticello’s Broadway or replacement of an aging mobile dental clinic for children, Hinchey listened and responded to the needs of Sullivan County.
Every Sullivan County resident knew they could call on his offices when they needed help. When small businesses, farms and families had issues with federal agencies, Hinchey was relentless in fighting for them.
Who can forget all the politicians that took the spotlight when we had extensive flood damage in Sullivan County? When all the cameras left, it was Hinchey that stuck by our residents and local communities as they struggled through FEMA applications, delayed reimbursements, and flood mitigation efforts.
Hinchey regularly sponsored grant workshops to help fire departments obtain grants and fought to preserve our rural post offices.
Hinchey was never afraid to take hard stands on tough issues. From his courageous opposition to the Iraq War to his vocal battle for stronger gas drilling regulations, he displayed a backbone that is becoming all too rare in public service.
While it is uncertain who will represent Sullivan County in Congress next year, whoever follows in Hinchey’s footsteps will indeed have very large shoes to fill.
In the meantime, we can all be thankful we still have Maurice Hinchey working and actively speaking out for us for the next several months.