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  • Rich Klein


Updated: Jan 7, 2022

Rappaport: ‘Today is a new day‘ in Fallsburg

Vegliante: Opponent Won With ‘Immoral Practices'

BREAKING - In the Fallsburg supervisor race, Katherine Jane Rappaport (Preserve Sullivan) has defeated Democrat incumbent Steve Vegliante by 271 votes after a group of disputed ballots were counted at the Board of Elections today.

Katherine Jane Rappaport will become Fallsburg's new town supervisor. (Photo from Rappaport's Twitter feed)

The SullivanTimes got the information from Rappaport attorney Jeffrey T. Buley as he left the Board of Elections office at about 11:45 am.

At press time, the result is unofficial but it’s expected that Rappaport also carried town candidate challengers Miranda Behan and Dr. Sean Wall-Carty, a Republican, to victory over Democrat incumbents Nathan Steingart and Michael Bensimon.

The official results - along with the winners in two Fallsburg council

races- are expected to be announced this afternoon.

Last week, Acting State Supreme Court Justice Mark Meddaugh threw out a petition by Vegliante and ordered that all 402 ballots that Vegliante had challenged be counted - and that happened this morning.

Vegliante, whose third term will end December 31, had a lead of 406 votes when polls closed on Election Day.

But in court recently , attorneys for both candidates agreed that the incumbent ‘s lead was reduced to between 96 and 100 votes after initial canvassing.

Rappaport and Town Council members-elect Wall-Carty and Behan sent the following joint statement to The SullivanTimes this afternoon:

“As we have seen in countless races across the country and at all levels of public office, the democratic process is not final until all legal votes are counted. It is now commonplace for an election night result to change after the counting of paper ballots, including absentees. Our races were no different. We are extremely grateful for the trust and faith the voters of Fallsburg have placed in us, and we cannot wait to get to work for them on the issues that matter most.

“Despite their legally dismissed and baseless claims, we extend our thanks to Supervisor Steven Vegliante and Councilman Nathan Steingart for their service to our town. We also thank candidate Michael Bensimon for standing up to serve.

“We will not address each and every false allegation, as they have already been decided upon in a court of law. Additionally, giving credence to them now is not in the best interest of the residents of Fallsburg. In this case, the rule of law prevailed, counting every legal vote and declaring duly elected winners.

“Ultimately, we all want what is best for the Town of Fallsburg, and the public decided – through a secure and fair process – who is best for the job. It is a responsibility we do not take lightly, and we look forward to working with the current town board on an orderly transition.

“Finally, we want to thank all our friends, supporters, and volunteers. Without you, today was not possible.

”We also give special thanks to our families, especially Shawn, Allison, and Peder. During the most difficult parts of the campaign, they were a constant reminder of why we ran. We are forever grateful for your love, support, and encouragement.

“Today is a new day in the Town of Fallsburg. The old ways of doing business, with just a few seats at the table, are over. With that, it’s time to move forward. We ask our supporters and detractors alike to put the rhetoric of the campaign behind us and unite for our community.

“Our community is more important than any one party, campaign, or person. When we are willing to rise above those differences and work together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.“

But Vegliante today said that his opponent’s expected victory was achieved through “immoral” tactics.

In a statement to The SullivanTimes, he said:

“Our election battle has come to an end. Our record setting victory on election night, will unfortunately not result in a certified win.

“The Judge dismissed our lawsuit demanding that the practices of our opponent’s campaign and the mass of absentee ballots it produced, be investigated and ruled upon. The suit was not dismissed on any of the lawsuit’s merits, but on a service technicality. As an appeal on that issue, while probably successful, would be cost-prohibitive, we must now face the realization that an election was held, and it’s results, however unfair, will be certified. We fully expect that when the ballots we objected to are counted today, they will be almost exclusively for my opponent and she and her team will be declared the winner. We must accept that determination, however, I will offer no congratulations, as I do not believe in celebrating a win gathered through immoral practices.

“What I promise will not change is my and our entire team’s commitment to the fairness of elections, and to that end, we will continue to demand that this election be investigated by law enforcement and administrative agencies. We will continue to demand that our County Board of Elections do their job and fairly investigate registrations and ballots, especially in cases like ours. We will demand that the State Board of Elections monitor their work, and finally, we will ask that each of you in the public become involved.

“I expect there to be many changes when this new Town Board is seated. While I hope that their allegiance will be with our entire community, their behavior in the last six months does not bode well for the Town our team has fought so hard to protect these past 12 years. To those reading this, I encourage you to come to meetings, become involved and do not let the positive changes our Board has fought for be swept aside.

“Finally, it has been both my honor and privilege to serve as your Supervisor for the past 12 years. I will be forever grateful to the amazing employees in the Town of Fallsburg that have never me down. I am indebted to our department heads who lead our Town with pride and honor each day and the members of our Town Board who have worked side by side with me to make our Town better. I will leave the office on December 31, knowing that I have always put our Town first, proud of our accomplishments and grateful for the experience. Thank you for the love and support you have shown my family and I. Excelsior”

Rappaport, who graduated from Fallsburg High School in 1987 and who is a member of the district's Board of Education, could not be immediately reached for comment.

The campaign got heated months ago when both sides campaigned heavily for the critical Orthodox Jewish vote - and it's widely believed that was a key reason that Rappaport prevailed. Rappaport also had the full support of the Sullivan County Republican Committee and Republican Sheriff Mike Schiff, whose "Team Schiff" is a dominant force in most local elections.

Vegliante earlier this year stepped down as chair of the Sullivan County Democratic Committee. His loss today, combined with a loss for Dems in the Town of Mamakating supervisor race, big losses for Democrats in the last County Legislature cycle, many town board seats across the county in this cycle, as well as the State Senate race - means new County Dem chair Anne Hart has a big challenge ahead.

The Town of Fallsburg Town Board meets tonight in person and by Zoom.


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