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Supervisors react to proposed change of government

By Fritz Mayer
April 14, 2011

If in November voters were asked to decide whether to stay with the current form of legislative government or to return to the Sullivan County Board of Supervisors approach, voters might vote to go back. At least that’s the opinion of Dan Sturm, supervisor of the Town of Bethel, because, with the many serious challenges facing the county, voters might jump for any kind of change.

Sturm, who is also chairman of the Sullivan County Association of Supervisors, thinks it would not be a good move to revert back because, with the current system, he can devote all of his time tending to the needs of his town. If the legislature were dissolved, he would have to split his time between town and county matters.

The question about reverting back to a board of supervisors, which county residents voted to do away with in 1994, has come up now because Grahamsville lawyer William Brenner is waging a one-man campaign to get the question on the ballot in the fall. The only way that can happen, however, is if the legislature agrees to allow it to.

The issue was discussed at a meeting of the town supervisors at the government center in Monticello on April 8. Brenner attended the meeting and summarized the discussion in a letter to legislators who did not attend.

Forestburg supervisor James Galligan said the question should be put to the voters, and Cochecton supervisor Gary Maas said the supervisors should meet with the legislators to ask if they would allow it to be brought to a vote, as provided in the county charter.

While others did not directly endorse putting the matter on the ballot, according to Brenner, several expressed reservations about the legislative form of government.
Fremont supervisor Jim Grier reportedly said that the legislative form of government is not working, and that the towns and residents are not being adequately represented.

Lumberland supervisor Nadia Rajsz said there is “a disconnect” between the legislature and the towns.

Neversink supervisor Greg Goldstein said that the supervisors have the pulse of the towns, more so than the legislators. He added that these days the legislators always seem to be battling, though he added that being a legislator is not an easy job and that there are lots of pressures.

In the end, however, the supervisors decided not to take a position about whether the association should take a formal position on the question, although some said they would take the matter to their boards for discussion.