Berkman will step aside as Dem leader

Orange County Legislator Jeff Berkman has announced he will step aside as leader of the Legislature’s Democratic caucus after six years in that role, clearing the way for a new minority leader to be chosen in January.

Berkman, a longtime legislator who represents part of Middletown, said in a press release that he had informed fellow Democrats of his decision on Thursday, declaring that “it is time for new leadership to step forward.” He celebrated his party’s longstanding practice of holding open caucus meetings and values he said the Democrats have upheld.

“We have kept faith with our Caucus principles of transparency, fiscal responsibility, and maintaining our resolve against arbitrary executive power and authority,” Berkman wrote.

Berkman’s announcement came on the heels of climatic Legislature vote on Nov. 13 on whether to privatize the Valley View Center for Nursing Care and Rehabilitation, one of two issues that have fueled partisan conflict on the Legislature for the last four years. Berkman and seven other Democrats stood firm in opposition to selling the nursing home, denying Republicans the 14-vote supermajority they needed.


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