COVID leads Rockland Democrats to delay convention for outside site


Bowing to pressure from some party members over concerns over COVID-19, the acting Democratic Party leader of Rockland has postponed a nomination agreement until next month.

The convention to elect a party president, fill vacant committee seats and recommend an election commissioner had been set for Thursday in West Haverstraw.

Acting President Chris Sampson, in a letter to party leaders, postponed the convention until September and until he can find an outdoor venue. The potential spread of the deadly COVID virus is reduced outdoors.

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Members of the party’s executive committee wanted vaccination and COVID testing requirements for members who would attend the convention. They also wanted it to take place outside.

Sampson initially rejected the management vote, saying people could vote by proxy and that the chosen West Haverstraw site had an air purification system.

Sampson relented as more and more people raised concerns about participation and that the party might not have enough people to vote by proxy. A member can be the bearer of only one proxy.

“I have received a number of messages from RCDC members expressing concern over my decision not to require proof of having received a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, in three days prior, as a condition of attending our INDOOR Special RCDC meeting, ”Sampson wrote to party leaders.

Sampson said in his letter that he was also “concerned about the timeliness of the distribution and the localization error (for which I am personally responsible) contained in the meeting notice.”

The notice announcing the convention also gave an incorrect address for the venue in West Haverstraw.

Sampson also told party leaders he was researching an outside site for the convention in early September and would report back within 24 hours. He said Democrats in the Rockland Legislature, who approve an election commissioner, have agreed to wait until the 600-member party committee sends them a recommendation.

“I hope these changes and assurances will allow us to focus on the business before our committee,” Sampson said.

Some grassroots Democrats are still demanding proof of vaccination and negative COVID test results, board member Gina Ironside said.

“To say that those who are uncomfortable can send a power of attorney is misleading and misleading,” said Jim Uleman of Pearl River. a proxy. “

Some committee members said they were concerned about errors in the announcement of the convention and that not all eligible voters were promptly notified.

Steve White of Spring Valley said, “As a longtime Democrat, I support the party’s mission to make government work for ordinary people. Transparency and inclusion call for posting accurate and timely meeting notices. Is the interim president supporting this mission, or conspiring with Trump supporters in the Ramapo machine to cover up their anti-vax status? “

Democrats must find successors to Kristen Zebrowski Stavisky, who has served as both party chair and election commissioner. She had been appointed Democratic co-executive director of the New York State Council of Elections effective July 31.

Sampson, a retired public service executive and former Ramapo city clerk and member of the East Ramapo school board, said he would run for the party chairman. Former lawmaker Nancy Low Hogan of South Nyack, the party’s first vice-chair, has indicated she is interested in leading the party.

For the election commissioner, Democrats are likely to choose between Kathy Pietanza, the deputy commissioner and decades-long office employee, and Barbara Petlin, a Spring Valley resident whose spouse Joel is the principal of Kiryas Joel schools. Petlin also has a contract with the East Ramapo School District.

Republicans and Democrats choose their own commissioners and electoral deputies. The Rockland legislature has traditionally approved party recommendations.

New York State law requires the parties to host the agreement in person. The mandate of vaccines / tests is not without precedent. The Manhattan Democratic Committee demanded proof of vaccination and wearing a mask for its August 5 court convention.

The more progressive members of the party’s executive committee lobbied for vaccination and testing notifications.

“It was an easy ‘yes’ vote,” said Dr. Ivanya Alpert, pediatrician and former Piermont administrator. “With the delta variant on the rise and with so many vulnerable committee members, including the elderly and parents of unvaccinated children, it behooves the president to put measures in place to ensure the safety of the child. our members and the community at large. “

The highly contagious delta variant has fueled the spread of COVID in Rockland and across the country, health officials say. “Groundbreaking” cases of COVID among vaccines are being reported, although health officials say these cases tend to be milder.

As of Tuesday, Rockland County had 679 active COVID cases; 14 people have been hospitalized with a confirmed case of COVID.

The Mid-Hudson region’s positivity rate – or the percentage of COVID tests that were positive for the virus – was 3.4% on Monday, Gov. Kathy Hochul reported. The regional positivity rate had remained below 1% until early summer.

Steve Lieberman covers government, breaking news, courts, police and investigations. Contact him at [email protected] Twitter: @lohudlegal. Read more articles and biography. Our local coverage is only possible with the support of our readers.


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