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Legislature up for grabs

Election Day will decide which party will take control

Derek Kirk
Posted 10/31/23

SULLIVAN COUNTY – With only two sitting legislators choosing not to run for reelection, seven incumbent elected county officials are vying against seven challengers for their seats.  

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Legislature up for grabs

Election Day will decide which party will take control


SULLIVAN COUNTY – With only two sitting legislators choosing not to run for reelection, seven incumbent elected county officials are vying against seven challengers for their seats. 

This in-depth article examines  who is running, their political party backings, why they are putting their name on the ballot and what they hope to accomplish if they attain or retain their positions:

District 1: 

Sullivan County Legislature Chairman Rob Doherty (Republican and Conservative) is seeing a challenge from Matt McPhillips (Democratic and Sullivan United.)

Doherty noted that he is running to maintain the investment into the county’s infrastructure, keep taxes low and continue the push to provide for the elderly residents of the county.

“Seniors should not have to choose between food, rent and medicine,” Doherty said.

McPhillips said that his reason for running is to focus on ensuring healthcare is at the forefront of the discussion (especially centered around the opioid-use epidemic) as well as the Adult Care Center in Loch Sheldrake, the housing crisis being experienced by the county and the promotion and practice of unity within the legislature across party and personal lines — including keeping communications active between the townships, villages and the county board.

“In the last four years, our county government has failed us. The toxic infighting makes it impossible to serve the people. I want to bring back the faith and trust that we all should have that our representatives are serving our best interests,” McPhillips said.

District 2:

Incumbent Nadia Rajsz of Glen Spey (Democratic and Sullivan United) is being challenged by Republican candidate Joanne Jasper of Monticello. 

Rajsz noted the need to pay attention to the opioid crisis, housing crisis, homelessness, health ranking and the need to take greater care of the county’s seniors and veterans.

“These issues and more are being addressed, but they need the continued support of people who understand these issues to get them done. This is no time for a learning curve,” Rajsz said.

Her challenger, Jasper, noted her desire to assist in leading the county into a better future.

“...I was raised with a strong work ethic, and I had instilled in me the idea that the solution to almost every problem exists, you just have to find it. I will analyze our problems, and I will collaborate on effective, well thought out and well executed solutions that address the root cause of those problems,” Jasper said. “My campaign pledge is a simple one: I will never take you for granted. If I am elected, you will finally have a legislator who is present, positive, and diligent, who works for you every day, because I am one of you.”

District 3:

Incumbent Michael Brooks (Republican and Conservative) will face off against Brian A. McPhillips of Parksville (Democratic and People Over Politics.)

In addition to focusing on public safety, opioid-related issues and the Sullivan County International Airport, Brooks noted his intent to enhance education for both college learning and trade schools, leaning on his 12 years on the Tri-Valley School Board.

“There are so many good initiatives that we have started that I would like to see through,” Brooks said, noting his recent work on the broadband project committee.

McPhillips noted some of his main focuses to be on the Opioid epidemic, the Adult Care Center in Loch Sheldrake, collaboration and teamwork between Legislators and promoting county-wide youth engagement.

“I think that the county is suffering greatly due to the lack of cohesion,” McPhillips said. “I think we need to get people in there that can look beyond politics.”

District 4: 

Incumbent Bloomingburg resident Nicholas M. Salomone Jr. (Republican and People First) will be running against Wurtsboro resident Maryallison Farley (Democratic and Mamakating First.) 

Salomone noted his bid for reelection is tethered to his enjoyment of helping people and solving problems at the county level. He noted that one of his proudest achievements while in the seat are his focus on zoning and development issues.

Farley highlighted her intent to focus on creating more good-paying jobs with benefits, protecting the rural quality of life and the county’s natural resources and holding an opposition to high density housing.

“Having lived and worked in Sullivan County for more than 25 years, I think that I know the community. I’ve worked at the Hospital and at the County Government Center,” Farley said.

“After watching the Sullivan County Legislature during the last few years, I decided that it was time for me to step up. The current Legislature seems more focused on their power games than on the business of the county,” Farley said.

District 5: 

Incumbent Hankins resident George E. Conklin III (Republican) will be challenged by Roscoe resident Cat Scott (Democratic and Sullivan United.)

Conklin confirmed his focus would remain on keeping taxes low, all while continuing in the training and development of blue-collar laborers and workers, as there has been a recent shortage of men and women in these professions.

“I have had the good fortune to work with some brilliant people in the government and I would like to continue working with them,” Conklin said.

Scott noted her interest in returning honest dialogue and civility to the legislature. 

“I believe elected officials should represent the will of the people, and we have not seen that in the last three and a quarter years,” Scott said.

Her focus centers around the Adult Care Center, revitalizing county-level community services and seeing that county employees are filling positions so that certain offices are not diminished – as well as addressing the opioid crisis in a proactive way, advocating to protect vital healthcare resources and champion economic opportunities and affordable housing.

“This election is incredibly important, I encourage people to get out and vote,” Scott said.

Legislator Luis A. Alvarez of Liberty is running unopposed on the Democratic line.

“I really hope it changes,” Alvarez said. “I hope that the change benefits Sullivan County which really deserves a better body of legislators than what they have right now,” he said.

District 7: 

Joseph B. Perrello, Sr. of Fallsburg is running unopposed. He is running on both the Democratic and Republican ticket.

“Going forward, there’s going to be some issues coming up this year and next year that have been dropped on our laps, but we will see what happens,” Perrello said. “I hope to see a good bipartisan group of people coming back into the legislature that we can work together as a team — have our differences, which is healthy, but come to a conclusion and be fair to each other to work for the county in a forward motion,” he said.

District 8:

Incumbent Legislator Ira Steingart is not seeking re-election. Running for the vacating position is Glen Wild resident Justin Picciotti (Democratic and Sullivan United) and candidate Amanda RB Ward (Republican) of South Fallsburg.

Picciotti highlighted what’s in his sights, which include keeping accountability and transparency within the county government, retaining health services, and paying increased attention to the Adult Care Center and other medical affiliated businesses.

“It’s time for Sullivan County to look past the lifelong residents that obviously are not producing in government and find people whose main mission is to work for the people and not for themselves,” Picciotti  said.

Ward noted her focuses will be centered around enhancing various quality of life issues that directly affect her neighbors, support responsible development and growth in careful balance with our local resources and the environment, and ensure educational institutions collaborate with hospitals and trade unions to provide well-paying job opportunities to next generation, and work with the other legislators to promote Sullivan County as a year-round recreation, resort and business destination.

“The next legislator who represents this district should not only be familiar with these important institutions but should also be familiar with the members of our community who live and work there every day,” Ward said. “I have lived in Sullivan County my entire life and know first-hand the hardships and challenges our residents have faced.”

District 9: 

Alan Sorensen is stepping down after more than a decade in the legislature. Monticello Mayor George Nikolados (Democratic and Sullivan United) of Monticello is running for the position against Terry L. Blosser-Bernardo (Republican) of Rock Hill.

Nikolados attested to his desire to bring a “semblance of normalcy” back to county government. He said that as the current Mayor of the Village of Monticello, he saw the amount of negligence the county has exhibited when it comes to the villages.

“Saving these villages is quite important. If these villages dissolve, taxes go up and people lose essential services,” Nikolados said.

In addition to focusing on the opioid problem, lack of youth activities, lack of better paying jobs to the area, and the housing crisis, he also called for a need for a County Executive, noting that “we are behind the times,” as compared to other counties that neighbor Sullivan.

Blosser-Bernardo said she is running on account of her extensive experience in county government, referring to her former position of Ulster County Legislative Chairman, work in the New York State Senate, and currently working in the Orange County government. Her agenda includes remaining dedicated to keeping conversation between constituents and representatives, crafting a better way to treat solid waste and trash currently exported out of county, and increasing youth and senior engagement. 

“I hope to use my knowledge and expertise to make sure that the resident taxpayer dollars are wisely spent and my constituents’ concerns are heard,” Bernardo said.

Meet at the polls

Those elected to the Legislature will serve a four-year term. More on each candidate can be found in previous editions of the Sullivan County Democrat under the “Meet the Candidate” submissions.

For the complete list of polling locations within your district, please visit  www.sullivanny.us/Departments/Elections/PollingPlaces.


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