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Lawyer calls for change

By Fritz Mayer
March 29, 2011

Type the name William A. Brenner into the Google search engine and the first site you’ll find is the one Brenner set up for his run for the senate against Hillary Clinton in 2005. A lawyer from Grahamsville, he has also run for the House of Representatives and the New York Assembly.

Most recently, he has started a campaign of a different kind: he is asking the Sullivan County Legislature to vote itself out of existence.

At a meeting of the legislature on March 17, Brennan read the following from a prepared statement: “As we approach the next four-year election of Sullivan County legislators this November, I would like to put a proposition on the election ballot to eliminate, terminate, dissolve (or lay off) immediately the nine-member Sullivan County Legislature, and have all of the legislators’ functions, duties and responsibilities assumed by our existing 15 members of the Sullivan County Board of Supervisors.

“This is as it was up until the county election of November 8, 1994, 17 years ago. As I recall back then, Sullivan County had more money and less debt, more thriving businesses, less empty storefronts, more hotels and more farmland and cattle.”
Brennan suggested that there was always a good deal of ambivalence about moving to the legislative form of government. In the vote in 1994, he said, 11,615 residents voted yes, 5,022 voted no and 8,226 left the question blank.
Brenner said he did not blame the legislators for the county’s economic downturn, but he said that the work they do could be done by the town supervisors, and he thinks that voters should have the opportunity to express themselves on the matter.

The reaction from the nine lawmakers, who are all up for re-election next year except for David Sager and Ron Hiatt, who have said they will not seek new terms, was decidedly low-key. Lawmaker Leni Binder, however, said it was her understanding that the supervisors would not be interested in the county oversight roll, because the work is too demanding and the pay is too little.

In a follow-up letter, sent to the legislators, the 15 town supervisors and the media, Brennan said that he would like to hear that from the supervisors themselves. As of March 28, Brenner said he had received no responses from the supervisors.