Sullivan goes to the polls

Posted 11/15/22

SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — The midterm elections are over, more or less.

Voters across the nation have cast their ballots. While some races remain too close to call as the ballots are counted, …

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Sullivan goes to the polls


SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — The midterm elections are over, more or less.

Voters across the nation have cast their ballots. While some races remain too close to call as the ballots are counted, the races with local impact for Sullivan County have come to fairly definitive conclusions.

Sullivan’s representatives

In a special election earlier in the year, voters chose Democrat Pat Ryan over Republican Marc Molinaro to replace Antonio Delgado in the 19th Congressional District.

Redistricting changed the boundaries of that race for the general election. Molinaro ran for the new 19th district which includes Sullivan County, facing off against Democrat Josh Riley in a race close enough to bring President Bill Clinton out to Sullivan on the campaign trail on Riley’s behalf. Ryan ran for the new 18th district, pitted against Republican Colin Schmitt in a race that ultimately was closer still.

Molinaro took 50 percent of the vote across the 19th district to Riley’s 48 percent; in Sullivan County, Molinaro took 58 percent of the vote to Riley’s 39 percent. Ryan won his race by under one percentage point, taking 49.35 percent of the vote to Schmitt’s 48.57.

“Thank you for your support. I’m honored to have earned the trust of more than 100,000 voters, and I will work every day to be a worthy member of Congress for both those who did, and did not vote for me,” wrote Molinaro in an election statement.

“With the ballots cast, votes counted, and campaign ended, it’s important to set aside our divisions and do our best to unite. It’s in that spirit that I wish Marc success as he goes to Washington to serve us and represent us,” wrote Riley in a concession statement.

The redistricting process also affected Sullivan County’s local representation, placing the county into the 51st State Senate district.

Sen. Peter Oberacker ran as the district’s Republican incumbent against Democratic challenger Eric Ball. Oberacker won the race by 20 points, taking 60 percent of the vote across the district and 58 percent in Sullivan County.

“Throughout the campaign I have criss-crossed the new 51st Senate District, spending time with local elected officials, small business owners, and citizens. The feedback I received was clear—a change is needed in Albany,” said Oberacker in an election press release. “I will spearhead that transformation, fighting back against rising spending, higher taxes, policies that put criminals first, and a failure to recognize our Constitutional rights.”

“I wish Senator Oberacker best of luck in his next term, and remind him that his votes matter to his constituents, and that a successful leader puts the needs of their constituents over the desires of their party, always,” wrote Ball in a concession statement.

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther ran as the Democratic incumbent of the 100th State Assembly district which covers most of Sullivan County; Republican challenger Lisa LaBue ran against her.

Gunther won with 55 percent of the vote to LaBue’s 42 percent; Gunther’s share of the vote stood at 58 percent in the Orange County portion of the district, and at 52 percent in the Sullivan County portion.

“I want to thank the constituents of Orange and Sullivan counties for giving me another opportunity to serve them,” wrote Gunther in a reelection statement. “I will continue to be a representative for all people in my district. I look forward to continuing to bring back our taxpayer money for important projects here at home, and passing legislation to improve the lives of the people of the State of New York.”

Statewide races

Democratic candidates prevailed in a number of statewide races.

Kathy Hochul won a full term as governor of New York, beating Republican challenger Lee Zeldin by 52 percent to 47 percent. Zeldin came out ahead among Sullivan County voters with 60 percent of the county’s vote.

Democrats Thomas DiNapoli, Letitia James and Chuck Schumer won reelection as comptroller, attorney general and U.S. senator respectively.

Closer to home, four candidates competed for three open seats on the 3rd Judicial District of the New York State Supreme Court: Democratic candidates Meagan Galligan, Heidi Cochrane and Sharon Graff and Republican candidate Thomas Marcelle. Galligan came out ahead with 16.15 percent of the district-wide vote, followed by Graff at 15.99 percent and Marcelle at 15.98 percent; Cochrane took 15.79 percent of the vote.

Galligan currently serves at the district attorney for Sullivan County, and her position at the top of the polls comes primarily from Sullivan County’s vote; the three Democratic candidates earned within one percentage point of each other in every county except for Sullivan, where Galligan took 16.61 percent of the vote to Graff and Cochrane’s 11.98 and 11.75 percents respectively. Marcelle took 18.71 percent of the Sullivan County vote, with the remaining 40.85 percent of Sullivan County ballots left blank, void or occupied by a write-in candidate.

Ballot propositions

Voters across New York State had a chance to cast their ballots to enact the Environmental Bond Act. The act authorized $4.2 billion of state bonds to fund projects across the state that help mitigate the effects of climate change.

Fifty-nine percent of voters across the state voted in favor of the act, 29 percent cast theirs against it and 12 percent did not vote on it. Sullivan County voters approved the act as well, though by a smaller margin; 49 percent voted yes, 40 percent voted no and 11 percent did not vote.

“By overwhelmingly passing the largest Environmental Bond Act in the state’s history, New York will now have the resources in place to pay for projects that safeguard clean drinking water, mitigate the impact of climate change, and conserve natural resources, all while creating family-sustaining green jobs,” wrote Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters.

The Town of Tusten had a pair of propositions on the ballot addressing the issue of cannabis.

The Tusten Town Board passed two local laws in November of 2021, opting out of the New York State legalization of cannabis on-site consumption facilities and dispensaries. Taken together, the laws effectively banned cannabis bars or stores from opening in Tusten.

Those bans came with the expectation of a referendum to follow, as supervisor Ben Johnson said when casting the deciding vote against dispensaries. “We’ve got enough people on either side; let’s find out how important it is to them, let them go to the voting box and put it forth.” The laws were subject to permissive referendum, meaning that once they were passed, voters could gather petitions and get their repeal on the ballot.

A majority of voters in Tusten cast their ballots against the bans: 54 percent of voters opposed the ban against on-site consumption, and 60 percent opposed the ban against dispensaries.


Anecdotal reports on election day indicated a high level of turnout in Sullivan County.

Turnout ultimately was slightly down compared against the 2018 midterms. That race had 25,533 ballots cast, according to the Sullivan County Board of Elections; this race saw 23,969 ballots cast.

The River Reporter visited five polling sites in the western end of Sullivan County and found lines between a half hour and an hour long at three: Tusten, Cochecton and Bethel. Multiple people saw the lines and left before casting a vote, with some expressing their intention to return.

Poll workers at all locations surveyed printed off ballots for each individual voter, rather than having a stack of ballots on hand to give to voters. Previous election days saw booklets with only half the ballots used up, and printing ballots off ensured there won’t be that waste, according to poll workers in the Town of Highland. It’s commensurate with the rest of the process, they said; it takes a while for people to vote, so printing off the ballots doesn’t slow things down.

New York, Sullivan County, elections


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