Sadly, the Town of Rochester is already infamous for dirty political deals benefiting the wives of party chairmen.
The trend started in 2009 with the wife of Len Bernardo, the Chairman of Ulster County Independence Party. As reported by Kingston Times, then GOP County Chairman Catalano “cooked a deal with Bernardo to guarantee his wife, Terry Bernardo, a seat in the legislature.” All done shamelessly, in your face: “The Chairman of the Independence Party would like his wife to win as a Republican.” The rest is history…
This year, Gerry Fornino — the chairman of the Conservative Party in Rochester — is trying to buy an election for his wife. Of course, he is paying with the Conservative line on next year’s ballot.
Supervisor Carl Chipman led the Rochester Town Board to appointing Gerry Fornino’s wife to the seat vacated by Tavi Cilenti, making an “incumbent” from the least qualified among applicants. Terry Bernardo masterminded the staged Republican Caucus that gave to Gerry Fornino’s wife the Republican line on the ballot.
Mark my words: both Carl Chipman and Terry Bernardo will get the Conservative line on the 2015 ballot.
With self-interest becoming the primary motivator, the roots of corruption spread insidiously. These party chairmen take advantage of voters’ little knowledge of local political shenanigans. In the words of a Republican Committee chairman from a town next door, what Bernardo and Fornino do is “Clever! Immoral, but very clever!”
The back room deals make the elections meaningless by denying voters the right to choose their leaders. The back room deals stifle healthy debates and erode people’s confidence in the electoral process. The back room deals compromise parties’ values, undermine politicians’ character and generate voters’ apathy. The back room deals are morally wrong.
Only you — the voters — have the power to stop these outrageous dirty deals: NEVER vote for the wife of a party chairman! Luckily, this year you have a choice. In the Special Election for the vacant seat on the Rochester Town Board you should vote for Greta Baker.
This Letter to Editor was published in Shawangunk Journal on October 23, 2014.