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Dan Hust | Democrat

County Legislator David Sager makes his announcement on Wednesday.

Could it be a ‘David vs. (legislative) Goliath’ race?

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — April 30, 2010 — Indicative of the deep local split, the natural gas issue has now become part of a newly announced campaign platform.
County Legislator David Sager told the press and public this week that he is mounting an effort to unseat current NYS Senator John Bonacic.
And Sager is doing that, in part, by illustrating a major divide between himself and Bonacic. Bonacic supports gas drilling; Sager does not – at least not in its current form, which he argued on Wednesday is too unregulated and poses a safety risk.
“Friends, I ask you to join me from now until November to tell John Bonacic that where we live is beautiful and special, and we will not allow you to continue to defiantly and recklessly advocate for unfettered gas drilling and hydro-fracking in our backyards,” he told an enthusiastically supportive crowd in the Government Center.
“Call your friends, have them call their friends. Let’s all tell him and the folks in Albany that in order to be permitted, gas drilling and hydro-fracking must be safe, legal, economically beneficial to all, and subject to local control. And don’t you dare begin the permitting process, as our courageous Congressman Maurice Hinchey has suggested, without first taking a hard look at a comprehensive EPA study.”
Sager, a Jeffersonville chiropractor and father who grew up in Monticello, is supporting a bill in the State Legislature to put a moratorium on drilling for 120 days to further study the issue.
But he is not basing his run solely on natural gas concerns.
“Our state government in Albany is broken, populated by ineffective and self-serving lawmakers,” he remarked. “New York State is infamous nationwide for its high taxes, bloated structure and dysfunctional legislature. Our current State Senator is very much part of the problem.… Late budgets and unfunded state mandates cripple local municipal budgets so that it has become impossible to provide for the basic needs of local residents without overburdening them through increased sales and property taxes. The economic collapse that we are living through has only heightened the reality that life in New York is becoming unsustainable. This has led to a fevered, pitched scream that we all feel, discuss and read about every day: We need to break the status quo in Albany!”
Sager vowed to do that by pushing for ethics reform (much as he has done as a county legislator), tax reform, school funding, and sustainable green technologies.
But he has several hurdles to overcome before he can even challenge Bonacic, an Orange County native who’s been a popular Republican State Senator for more than a decade.
In particular, Sager must be approved by the county Democratic Committee chairpersons and/or committeemembers of the four counties which comprise the 42nd Senatorial District: Sullivan, Delaware, Ulster and Orange.
Sullivan County Democratic Committee Chairman Steve Wilkinson said Sager’s already got his personal support, though he added the committee has yet to meet to vote on Sager.
Delaware County’s Democratic leadership expressed their support, as well, but in Orange and Ulster – where other Democratic candidates may be emerging – the outcome is far less certain.
Complicating matters further is that, technically, he’s not yet a Democrat. Though he’s filed the necessary paperwork with the Sullivan County Board of Elections to change his registration from Republican to Democrat, that change won’t become effective until one week after November’s elections.
In a telephone interview yesterday morning, Sen. Bonacic commented, “I say simply, it’s a democracy, everyone’s welcome to run. I welcome the debate on the issues and would like to see what [my potential opponents] would propose to do differently than what I’ve done these past 12 years.”
Provided he gets the needed Democratic support from at least three of the four county committees/chairpersons, he can still run as a Democrat.
In the meantime, Sager said he already considers himself a Democrat and will be participating in the County Legislature’s Democratic caucuses – now giving that Legislature a 6-3 Democratic majority.
“To my Republican friends and associates, I say, if you liked me as a Republican, you will like me more as a Democrat,” Sager remarked. “I will continue to champion what I believe to be just and fair causes and continue to be the same independent leader you have elected me to be.
“It does not matter to me whether an idea is a Republican idea or a Democratic idea, as long as it’s a good idea,” he concluded. “Albany desperately needs leaders who care more about doing what’s right for New York State and less about doing what’s right for their political party. Only then will we truly succeed in cleaning up Albany.”
A website has been promised but is not yet up. In the meantime, Sager welcomes e-mails at

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