DiNapoli, local Democratic leaders urge voter turnout

Gittel Evangelist

Times Herald-Record

May 19, 2014

MIDDLETOWN — Elections matter. Elections have consequences. And this: Every vote counts.

That was the theme expounded by Orange County Democrats at their annual dinner, held Sunday at Kuhl's Highland House in Middletown.

New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who headlined the event, perhaps summed up the idea best: “Bad things happen when good people don't vote.”

County Democrats gathered to energize their ranks and encourage party members to pound the pavement in what could prove to be a pivotal election year for the mid-Hudson. All three Assembly Democrats who serve Orange County – Frank Skartados of Milton, James Skoufis of Woodbury and Aileen Gunther of Forestburgh – are up for re-election this year.

And key to winning the fight, DiNapoli and others said, is getting out the vote.

“My concern is a very, very simple one,” DiNapoli said: “Turnout.”

It was registered Democrats' failure to mobilize that led Republican Nan Hayworth to capture the House seat formerly occupied by Democrat John Hall in 2010 – a year when five House seats were lost to the GOP, DiNapoli said. Democrats reclaimed the seat in 2012, when former Clinton White House aide Sean Patrick Maloney bested Hayworth in the newly redrawn 18th Congressional District.

“It's about talking to your neighbors, your employees, your friends, about the importance of making a choice,” said Jonathan Jacobson, who has served more than two decades at the helm of the Orange County Democratic Committee.

And, many noted, it's about the strength of the party's core.

“Our opponents will always have more funding, more mailers and more lawn signs, but we have something, too. We have people,” said Sparrow Tobin, president of the Hudson-Catskill Central Labor Council and coordinator of the New York State United Teachers Regional Political Action Committee. Tobin was honored with the 2014 Orange County Labor Award.

Also honored this year were former county legislators Tony Marino, Wayne Decker, Dick Roberts, Tom Pahucki and Roxanne Donnery – who received a plaque for being “the best county executive Orange County never had.”

DiNapoli drew laughter and applause when, during his remarks, he told Donnery that he was the “best county executive Nassau County never had” – a reference to his failed bid for the Democratic nomination in the 2001 race. But, he assured her, “Life goes on, and you will have a political future.”

Also addressing the crowd, Skoufis made his own prediction: “I like the sound of Clinton-DiNapoli in 2016.”