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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November 19th, 2015

Election Results Settling In

The elections of 2015 are over and the results are settling in.

First of all – the people of Sullivan County won – and no political party can or should claim victory.

With that said – the Democrats were at a clear disadvantage on the ballot because they ran no candidates for County Clerk, Treasurer, and a Coroner position.

County Clerk Dan Briggs, Treasurer Nancy Buck, and Coroner Alan Kesten are all popular with the electorate and hold non-political positions. I believe they should have been crossed endorsed.

Many town positions were also unopposed.

At the end of the day – Once again – We saw dramatic change on our legislature with incumbents Jonathan Rouis, Kathleen LaBuda, and Kitty Vetter being ousted from office. While the fate of Gene Benson is still to be determined, it does not look like he will be able to hold on.

Legislators Alan Sorenson and Ira Steingart as expected swept to victory. Chairman Scott Samuelson ran unopposed. Incumbents Cora Edwards and Cindy Gieger decided not to seek reelection leading to open seats.

I made it no secret that I was involved in the successful campaign that ousted 16 year incumbent Kathleen LaBuda. It was time for LaBuda’s destructive stronghold over our County affairs to come to an end. The ethics charges she filed against Gieger are reprehensible.

Nadia Rajsz will be an independent voice who will work with everyone for the benefit of Sullivan County. She has a proven record of accomplishments in Lumberland where she turned a huge budget defect around. No one will or can control Nadia – She will be a true leader.

Jonathan Rouis who was probably one of our smartest legislators will be missed. Voters in Mamakating were angry over Rouis’ lack of involvement in local town issues and he did very little to win people over. He lost out to Kathy Owens who is the wife and confidential secretary of Mamakating Town Supervisor Bill Herrmann.

Legislative Vice Chair Kitty Vetter worked very hard to win reelection, but she lacked the team support needed to beat outgoing Neversink Supervisor Mark McCarthy.

Legislator Gene Benson was holding on to a 7 vote lead over Fallsburg businessman Joey Perrello until Wednesday when County Court Judge Michael McGuire ruled to allow the opening of 47 absentee ballots cast from Sullivan County Community College students who in actually reside in other Counties.

Although the block vote gave Perrello a 40 vote edge, the decision to allow the questionable absentee ballots to be counted and included in the vote tally is being appealed.

Attorney Kirk Orseck who is representing Benson is hopeful that the higher Court will rule that these students should not have been permitted to vote absentee and therefore overturn McGuire’s decision.

One must wonder – Why would 47 students who go to school here and do not actually live here want to vote in our local elections?

This year there were no Federal or State elections and the only contested races were for Fallsburg Town Judge and District 7 Legislator.

Was this an exercise of a Political Science class or the mastermind of someone?

If these students are now residents in Sullivan County – Do taxpayers now have to pay for their tuition? If they are not residents – then why didn’t they vote by absentee from the county where they actually live and receive their tuition from?

It has been suggested that these students were asked to register and vote in Sullivan County for Amanda Ward who is a professor at the school and was the successful candidate for Fallsburg Town Judge.

It has been further alleged that these students were also asked by political operatives to also vote for Perrello. Ward did not need these votes to secure her victory.

People are now using terms like “voter fraud” and saying its “unethical” that 47 out of the county students could and would be allowed to influence the outcome of a Sullivan County legislative or judicial race.

One has to wonder why the chair of the Sullivan County Democratic Committee isn’t saying anything about this. I am sure if the political parties were reverse – the Republican Chairman would be making every allegation imaginable.

While Perrillo ran a full-fledged solid campaign, Benson did very little to motivate his electoral base. He relied on campaign signs from four years ago, had no campaign literature, nor did he hold a fundraiser.

A decision on the absentee ballots is expected after Thanksgiving.

Both Benson and Perrillo are outspoken individuals who always have the interests of Sullivan County and Fallsburg at hand. I have known both for many years and I am confident that whomever ultimately wins will serve us well.

Incoming legislators Terri Ward and Luis Alvarez are huge recognizable Sullivan County names – their opponents – newcomers Isaac Diebboll and Miranda Behan should be proud of their showings.

Soon we will be hearing about the battle for executive positions such as chair and committee assignments.

The buzz already is that Scott Samuelson says he has the votes to remain as Chairman – He is using his so called experience and the incoming casino as rational to keep him in charge.

Part of the negotiations between incoming legislators and the chair will be the awarding committee of seats and certain executive positions.

Seems like Alvarez wants to chair Health and Family Services, Ward wants Public Safety and possibly Vice-Chair, while Perrillo might be the perfect fit to chair Public Works.

One would assume that Steingart would remain heading Economic Development and Sorensen at Planning. Rajsz might be right to head Budgeting, and McCarthy Personnel.

It would be a disaster if Samuelson remained as Chairman.

Samuelson has proven to be one of our worst leaders.

Rajaz, Sorensen, or Steingart could be strong contenders for Chair of the legislature.

Those who use the casino argument to keep Samuelson as chairman need to look no further and use that as one of the primary reasons he should be booted as chairman.

While people are busy talking about explosive growth, there is no real plan for Sullivan County to capitalize on such development. If there is – it has been kept a secret.

We have done very little to encourage or train our future workforce or to prepare for new housing and other development needed to attract new year-round and seasonal residents to Sullivan County.

We are facing the real danger that the casino workforce will be traveling to work from other parts of the Hudson Valley because of poor leadership.

We need to return transparency to Sullivan County government.

There is currently a shadow government in Monticello that uses its power to benefit a select few. If Samuelson isn’t part of it, he certainly has been complicit in allowing it to flourish. We need a strong leader of and for the people, someone who will step up and take the initiative to bring that to an end and restore a transparent government that represents all the people.

One of the strongest arguments against keeping the current leadership in place is pure economic. Sullivan County is listed by the NYS Comptroller as “susceptible to fiscal stress” with a 46.3% rating under our current leadership.

Much more on our need for real leadership – And the mandate from the people in the weeks ahead.

Thank you to all those who stepped up to the plate and ran for office. Your desire to serve the public is greatly appreciated.


Bill Liblick has made a name for himself on 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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