Call him Rounds (with an ‘S’)
They say the toughest part of any piece is the first sentence. Since “They call me Ishmael” is taken, but what a whale of a story, I’ll start with this week’s county candidates breakfast.
This week’s Ulster chamber of commerce breakfast featured seven candidates competing for four offices, the odd man out being Democrat Bryan Rounds, unopposed for county judge. The 47-minute program, strictly timed, gave the other candidates barely time to warm up. By recusing himself, Rounds could have given fellow candidates another minute of face time, but the ham in the man got the best of him.
Rounds, 50, one of the county’s leading defense attorneys, opened with an apology. The judicial code of ethics restricts candidates to what they can say (think “law and order” or “progressive”) or how they might rule on any subject if elected, Rounds told an audience of about 200, adding, “besides that, I’m running unopposed, so this can be pretty boring.”
Actually, we learned something about the future county judge. As a defense attorney, I thought he might talk about restoring balance in a county court too long dominated by judges from the prosecution side of the criminal justice system. For evidence, I offer the last three county judges, all tough (Republican) district attorneys before donning the ermine.
Instead, Rounds delivered a message more relevant to the future. Speaking to his extensive experience as both a prosecutor (in his early career) and a defense attorney, he said, “I have loved both those jobs, but I can assure you, I will be neutral on the bench, neither a prosecutor nor a defense lawyer.”
If so, the tide has shifted and amen to that.
MARCHING ON – Say what you will about Democrat March Gallagher and Republican endorsee (lately non-enrolled) Lisa Cutten, their messages haven’t changed since nominations last winter.
Gallagher still sounds like she’s running for county director of economic development, which isn’t an elected office, while Cutten seems lost in the last decade where she uncovered massive fraud in a county-supported not-for-profit and was, in her words, “rejected, reviled and fired” (by Democrats) for my efforts.” Yet, her long record as a fiscal watchdog with numerous municipalities will give voters pause.
Politically, wings and prayers come to mind. Blown out at the Democratic convention and at primary, and fired by county exec Pat Ryan as one of his first official acts in June, Cutten has had the bumpier road. With demonstrated support from majority Democrats, Gallagher will likely prevail, but not by margins previously demonstrated.
And while we’re on the subject, they say nobody cares about the office of county comptroller, seemingly gone dark since Elliott Auerbach, the county’s one and only electee to that office, left for a big job with the state comptroller in May. Since then, his successor, Adele Reiter, who may be up for a “best actress in a supporting role” or “caretaker-in-chief” at next year’s “Hughie’s” (a minor league subset of the Oscars) has apparently barricaded herself behind closed doors. Other than posing for group photos, she has yet to issue a public statement that I am aware of. That said, the invisible Reiter will forever hold the distinction of serving as acting county executive and acting comptroller in the same year.
Next: With county executive just about over ‘cept for the counting (with apologies to Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler”), we’ll look at the marque election – district attorney – and a few other hot spots.