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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January 20th, 2019

Sullivan County Enters 2019 With Major Political and Countywide Excitement

As Sullivan County enters 2019 and Legislative Chairman Luis Alvarez prepares his State of the County Address on Thursday, we can expect a lot of excitement politically and on our road to recovery in the coming year.

Sullivan County has a new Congressman with the election of Antonio Delgado and a new dynamic State Senator in Jen Metzger.

Delgado has said he will reopen a Sullivan County District Office which was closed by John Faso.

Metzger is also planning on opening a local district office and on that front, Metzger hired Sullivan County Human Rights Executive Director Ari Mir-Pontier to run her Sullivan County district office. Ari is an outstating choice by Metzger and a big loss to the Human Rights Commission. Mir-Pontier is respected, caring, and hardworking.

Although Delgado and Metzger are Democrats, both Republican candidates for Congress and State Senate won Sullivan County – Meaning Democrats still have a lot of work to do to unite the party and run candidates who are credible and can win.   

2019 will be one of the biggest and most anticipated election years Sullivan County has seen in a long time.

County Court Judge Frank LaBuda will be forced to retire in December because he turns 70 this year opening a vacancy for his seat. State law forces sitting Judges into retirement once they reach 70.

County Clerk Dan Briggs who has a long history of public service in Sullivan County including treasurer and county manager will also be retiring – opening a vacancy for his seat as well.

All nine Sullivan County Legislature seats will be up for election as well as all Town Supervisors. Other local positions up for grabs will include town council seats, town judgeships, and other local municipal seats.

Political leaders are busy scrambling for candidates as party conventions and petitioning will be moved up several months if the bill to hold primaries in June instead of September is signed into law.

Although I fully support the new election legislation, it should not become law until the 2020 election cycle – there are no federal or state elections this year forcing two primaries.

County Court Judge

Highly respected Sullivan County District Attorney Jim Farrell is expected to run for County Court Judge. Farrell who has vast proven experience in criminal law and has excelled as or chief elected prosecutor is expected to face a challenge from little known Mamakating Town Judge Cynthia Dolan who is exploring a run on the Democratic line.

County Court Judge has exclusive jurisdiction over criminal offenses and the presiding judge must be experienced in the rules of evidence, criminal procedure law, search and seizure law, Constitutional law, and the New York Penal Law. Without experience in these key legal areas the Court will most certainly struggle to provide justice.  Farrell has spent the better part of the last three decades working in the County Court.

His role as District Attorney makes Farrell uniquely qualified to hold the position of County Court Judge and transition from presenting cases to the County Court, as an advocate, to presiding over those same cases as County Court Judge, as an impartial arbiter.

If Farrell wins election for County Court Judge as most political observers expect him to – It would pave the way for Sullivan County to have our first female District Attorney – Meagan Galligan.

Galligan is also a Democrat – And Democrats have not held the District Attorney position for more than 30 years.

A run from Dolan for County Court Judge could in all probability harm the rest of the Democratic ticket being that Farrell is so well known, popular, and is an outstating candidate for the position. Farrell is known as being a strong, aggressive, personable and relentless campaigner and without a doubt will help the rest of the Republican ticket as the head of the ticket. Despite all this, certain factions of the Democratic Party are pushing Dolan due to their own political agendas, while others see and understand political reality.

Many political experts believe that Dolan should wait to run for a countywide judicial position as several judgeships will be opening up in the future and she would not have to a challenge someone as strong as Farrell.

County Clerk

On the County Clerk front – Deputy County Clerk and Liberty Town Councilman Russell Reeves is expected to be the Republican nominee. David Sager who has held the positions of Sullivan County Legislator and Monticello Village Manager has announced he is seeking the Democratic nomination. Another well-known and qualified person is also mulling whether she will enter the race. An endorsement from the Conservative Party in this race could be a key factor.

Sager has said he is in the race to stay and will primary anyone who challenges him for the position on the Democratic line.

The County Clerk is the record keeper of hundreds of thousands of legal documents and public records relating to business, property ownership, and civil and criminal cases. In addition, the County Clerk serves as an official passport application acceptance agency, processes pistol permit applications, files Veteran’s discharges (DD-214) as well as issuing DBA’s and processing notary public licenses and renewals.

Sullivan County Legislature

Sullivan County legislators duped voters into believing there would be staggered terms this election cycle and they should be accountable in November to the electorate as to why they stonewalled the issue when they pledged, they wouldn’t.

Nonetheless – there are expected to be three big open legislative races this year as Terri Ward, Kathy Owens, and Mark McCarthy are not expected to seek reelection.

It is expected that Liberty Town Supervisor Brian Rourke will face former head of Probation Lou Setren for Ward’s seat. Former legislator Cindy Kurpil Gieger is also considering another run for the seat.  

There is talk that Elton Harris or former county employee Joe Colon will run on the Democratic line for McCarthy’s seat.  The rumor mill also has Neversink Supervisor Chris Matthews running on the Republican line.

The strong bipartisan team of Chairman Luis Alvarez and Vice Chair Nadia Rajsz will be seeking reelection, as will legislators Alan Sorensen, Joseph Perrello, Ira Steingart, and Scott Samuelson.

Village of Monticello Trustee George Nikolados is expected to announce he is running against Alan Sorensen. There is also talk former legislator Gene Benson will run for the seat he lost to Perrello by a few votes.  Nick Salomone is expected to be the Republican’s choice for Owen’s seat with several Democrats interested in running.

There are also several Democrats considering running in a Democratic Primary against Samuelson if he chooses to seek reelection. The former legislature chairman previously told people who would not seek reelection. The Republicans are in discussion with several well-known people as well.

Town Elections

On the Supervisor front – Liberty Democratic Town Councilman Brian McPhillips has announced he is running for Supervisor. If Brian Rouke actually decides to run for legislator – it is expected that Councilman Dean Ferrand will be the Republican candidate.

In the Town of Mamakating – Supervisor Bill Herrmann is not expected to seek reelection – opening up that seat.

Village Elections

Adding to this are Village elections scheduled for March which includes an anticipated slugfest for Mayor in Liberty as well as for two trustee seats.

Current popular and respected Mayor Ron Stabak is expecting a challenge from former Mayor Richard Winters. Trustee Corrine McGuire who is seeking reelection is expected to face a field that includes former trustee Joan Stoddard, Vicky Ferguson and Troy Johnstone. They are vying for the two open seats.  

The elections in Monticello are expected to be much quieter as current Mayor Gary Sommers is expected to run unopposed. The only contest expected is for a Trustee position. Charlie Sabatino who was appointed Trustee is facing a challenge from former County Treasurer candidate David Komatz.

Countywide Front

On the non-political front – The big news of 2019 is the anticipated opening of a new waterpark, monster golf course, the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock at Bethel Woods, and the opening of a new jail and Sheriff’s Office.

Sadly, the Blue Horizon Diner is gone as is Mr. G’s and Friends Restaurant. Piccolo Paese in Liberty was sold and is undergoing major renovations. There is also talk that Marshall’s will be opening in the Town of Thompson, and development is planned at the former Grossinger’s site.

There is much anticipation at the site of the old Eldred Preserve where a new hotel under the Bradstan’s name is opening as well as the Old Homestead Restaurant. The property will be run by Scott Samuelson and Edward Dudek.

Several new hotels and housing developments are also planned in Sullivan County. But, let’s not forget the Villa Roma is still going strong.

In 2018 the big news was the opening of Resorts Worlds Casino – Unfortunately the hype that the east coast never saw such a resort casino outside of Las Vegas proved to be a huge dud. Obviously, these casino executives never went to Mohegan Sun or the Borgata.

What is even sadder is that they did not build a show room or even entertain a meeting with a local entertainment specialist who booked all the big named acts in local hotels.

Don’t get me wrong – I am elated that the casino is finally here and I more than anyone wants to see it succeed – but it is not what we were promised – and there is a lot of work that needs to be done to make it a true resort destination.

One thing we can all be thankful for is that thanks to the new casino our unemployment rate is at an all time low.

Although the Sullivan County Legislature can find $4.5 million to construct an out of date concept of a Visitor’s Center near Resorts Word, they must find money in 2019 for such needed items as more Sheriff Deputies for the road patrol, additional prosecutors, and a respectable and well deserved labor contract for our correction officers and county employees.

The legislature must also turn the Executive Director position of the Human Rights Commission into fulltime and include a Consumer’s Affairs division.

Our 911 call center should immediately be consolidated into the Sheriff’s Office as it was successfully done in the past. This would save taxpayers millions of dollars. The statistics are there for such a move.

The legislature must also find a real way to work with our towns and villages and assist them. We are one county.

We are still one of the unhealthiest and poorest counties in New York State, and that must change in 2019.

It will be interesting to see what Chairman Luis Alvarez has to say on Thursday as he delivers his State of the County Address during this hotly contested political year.

In 2019 – Let’s all try to work together for a better Sullivan County and put our differences aside.

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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