BY OLEG KHAGHANI
The battle for the Clarkstown supervisor, set appropriately on the grounds of the Congers VFW Hall, commenced at 6: 14 on the evening of Monday April 17, as Police Chief Michael Sullivan announced his decision to run against incumbent Supervisor George Hoehmann; a battle that promises to be a clash between two long standing rival titans of Clarkstown. Those familiar with the recent political history of this community will understand the scale of this clash.
Mr. Sullivan was introduced by his son, who stated that he is proud of his father, whom he described as having dignity, honor, and integrity. These qualities have been called into question by the Clarkstown Town Board, which has levied numerous insubordination charges against him, currently being heard by an arbitrator. Much of the community rallied around Sullivan when he was suspended, forming a movement culminating in the chief’s decision to run for supervisor against an incumbent he feels targeted him unfairly.
Sullivan told his supporters, “in all these difficult times, you have all been the beacon in my life, and that I would not still be standing here if it was not for you.”
“I am, and always have been a public servant. I also firmly believe that for evil to triumph all that good has to do is nothing, and I believe that it’s time for us to do something. I believe that it’s time for us to take our town back. I believe that good government requires open, transparent communication, integrity, leadership, and commitment to community. Sadly, I don’t see that happening in The town of Clarkstown anymore. What I see is a Supervisor who uses innuendo and intimidation instead of communication. Dishonesty instead of integrity, confusion instead of leadership, and I see people with their heads low,” and also that “what I see is a community suffering from the scorched-earth politics of a few elected officials who would happily bury the innocent along with the guilty to advance their agenda. I see hate and fear as a new political sword to be wielded against anybody who stands in their way. And I see a community divided.”
After pausing for a brief second, Sullivan continued, saying, “I never had political ambitions. As my father before me I’ve chosen to serve and protect the people of Clarkstown from behind the badge. I would like to continue to protect and serve the people of Clarkstown, but from now on I would like to do it from Town hall. That is why tonight, I’m announcing that I am a candidate for Clarkstown Supervisor.”
Having announced his candidacy, Sullivan spoke of his plans for Clarkstown. He said when he first became the chief of Ppolice he had a mandate to reduce costs and to make the department more efficient. The chief said, “That is exactly what we did.” He claimed that by working with the police officers, and various other government entities and the citizens of Clarkstown his plan reduced the department’s size by 12 positions and also cut overtime by 20 percent.
Supervisor Hoehmann had a different take on Sullivan’s fiscal record. He responded, “It’s strange Chief Sullivan would choose the night before Tax Day to announce his candidacy since he has left Clarkstown taxpayers on the hook for a $3 million increase in the police budget, a record $1 million increase in overtime and nearly half the force making over $200,000 a year. It’s clear Clarkstown can’t afford Michael Sullivan.”
The race promises to be one for the history books. And a decision on Sullivan’s disciplinary hearings is expected any day now.
Dylan Skriloff contributed to this report.