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Rouis calls for change of government; opposition calls for separate legal representation

The bipartisan coalition in favor of hiring a new county manager are Alan Sorensen, left, Kitty Vetter, Cora Edwards, Cindy Gieger and Gene Benson.

By Fritz Mayer
January 3, 2013

At a news conference at the government center on January 3, Legislator Jonathan Rouis, the former chairman of the legislature, called for the establishment of a charter revision committee to study the notion of changing the county government to one that would have a county executive as is the case in Orange and Ulster counties.

In a reference to recent turmoil at the government center, Rouis said, “While I believe that on some level all my colleagues have the best interest of Sullivan County at heart, our current governmental structure has hampered our ability to make meaningful change and move the county forward for the betterment of the residents. Members of our legislature have become bogged down with managing staff and personal agendas, and are unable to focus the best of their efforts of policies that will move our county forward economically so that our residents can prosper.”

Rouis said he was not interested in becoming the county executive. He said the process of making the change would take at least two years, and in the meantime, he proposed that county manager David Fanslau be offered a new contract through the end of 2014.

But Fanslau’s tenure at helm of the government has been the subject of serious division among the legislators, and after Rouis’ remarks, five members of the legislature, a majority, each took to the podium and addressed the issue.

Alan Sorensen said that five members of the legislature, a bipartisan coalition, had decided back in July that there needed to be a change in the county manager’s office. Sorensen said he was not necessarily opposed to investigating a change to a county executive form of government, but the issue of the current county manager needed to be addressed soon.