Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Bloomingburg mayor, trustee seek re-election 

Bloomingburg’s mayor and a village trustee have filed their paperwork to run for re-election in March.

Mayor Frank Gerardi and trustee James Johnson will run again on the Rural Heritage ticket, an independent party that was built on its opposition to developer Shalom Lamm’s construction of a 396-unit Hasidic townhouse development within the village. The last two village elections were decided in a courtroom, after allegations of voter fraud and religious discrimination led to fierce legal battles. This election arrives under the shadow of a settlement reached this week between the Sullivan County Board of Elections and 10 Hasidic voters from Bloomingburg who alleged religious discrimination after the BOE tried to cancel their voter registrations. A federal monitor will be assigned to watch the Sullivan County Board of Elections for the next five years. Many residents in Bloomingburg and its surrounding Town of Mamakating have voiced discontent over the county’s decision to settle.

“I think we’re going to face the same voter fraud that the Sullivan Board of Elections backed off of,” Johnson said.

Two years of controversies and lawsuits surrounding Chestnut Ridge have not been enough to dissuade the two officials from trying to continue in their positions. Gerardi said he is proud of all the things his administration has done to straighten up the village and increase public safety. He hired a code inspector and they have worked to increase property inspections and cite code violations. He has also planted flowers, added signs and paved the village hall parking lot. Right now he is chasing a sidewalk improvement grant.

“It’s all the little things,” Gerardi said.

Bloomingburg has 293 registered voters as of Tuesday, with the last day to register March 4. Only two deeds have been filed out of 45 available homes in the highly scrutinized Chestnut Ridge development.

The campaign is a shot in the dark right now with no announced challengers, Gerardi said, but they will know by next Tuesday, the last day to file a petition to run.

“Whatever will be, will be,” Gerardi said. “I can’t control it. I can only hope for the best.”


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