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Legislature Decides Against Staggered Terms

Monticello, NY – The Sullivan County Legislature today unanimously agreed to maintain their unified four-year terms, rather than staggering terms. The vote was 8-0 against a resolution to stagger terms, with District 3 Legislator Mark McCarthy unable to be in attendance.

Legislators issued the following statement:

“After many months of consultation among ourselves, with the County Attorney’s Office and with the Charter Review Commission who initially recommended this change, we feel the citizens of Sullivan County will continue to be best served by the system the founders of this Legislature put in place nearly 25 years ago. They established that all nine legislative positions would come with the same four-year term, and they determined that a more frequent turnover of elected legislators would not result in better governance. We agree.

We understand that our decision may not sit well with the majority of the membership of the Charter Review Commission. However, this choice was made after thoroughly and conscientiously reviewing all the facts, and it was not in any way meant to insult, disrespect or minimize the members or work of the Commission. The citizens who participated on that Commission gave enormous effort and time with no compensation or guarantee of action, and this Legislature remains deeply grateful to them.

Our concerns regarding staggering terms were and are legitimate, including that the current three-year window where legislators aren’t preoccupied with their or their colleagues’ election campaigns would be reduced to just one year. We are not convinced that a turnover of the majority of the Legislature would damage County government or the continuity thereof. Indeed, this current group of legislators – the majority of whom are in their first terms of office – is proof that positive forward momentum not only can be preserved under new leadership, but accelerated. It should also be noted that we are guided by a professional, capable and stable staff under the leadership of our County Manager, ensuring an 'institutional memory' no matter the new faces on the Legislature.

Change for change’s sake is never the ideal and should not be the goal. But that does not mean that any discussion is over. We as a Legislature govern most effectively when those we represent, our constituents, proactively share their thoughts and concerns with us on a regular basis. Such a relationship also allows us to explain the reasons we as legislators feel and vote as we do – a far better alternative than rumor-mongering, mud-slinging or assuming nefarious motives.

This Legislature is confident that at this time, the switch to staggered terms is not in the best interest of Sullivan County.”