Monroe Democrats shun Burke for reelection

The Monroe Democratic Committee announced it has dropped its support for Councilman Dan Burke in his bid for reelection next week, citing his vote to approve a 164-acre Kiryas Joel expansion in September as one of its reasons.

In a resolution adopted by the committee on Oct. 1 and released this week, Democrats withdrew their campaign endorsement for their former committee secretary and relieved “all members of the committee from any obligation to support him in the general election in November.” Party Chairman Tom Kemnitz said in an accompanying statement that the annexation request Burke supported “was fiscally irresponsible in that it needlessly embroiled the Town of Monroe in an expensive lawsuit in which it was opposed by all of its neighbors as well as by the Orange County government.”

Kemnitz also released a party platform that committee members approved at the same meeting and that begins with an implicit repudiation of the annexation that Burke and three other Town Board members approved on Sept. 8:

“We embrace the defense of our physical environment as one of the fundamental principles of the Democratic Party. We are opposed to changes in density that are not reflected specifically in the Comprehensive Plan of the Town of Monroe. The Town has the responsibility to be the stewards of our precious environmental resources, which include but are not limited to road capacity, water quality, sewer capacity, drainage control and flooding prevention, and the beauty of our tree cover, all of which contribute to the quality of life enjoyed by all of our residents. We think that inappropriate changes to density are a betrayal of the trust held by our elected officials and damage all communities and villages within Monroe.”

The platform and statement also condemned Monroe officials for appointing their relatives and alluded to — without naming — Burke’s partner, Elisa Tutini, who is currently the Planning Board chairwoman and is paid $57,000 a year. “Burke and his significant other were the chief offenders in dollar terms of the nepotism practiced by the current Town Board,” Kemnitz wrote.

Burke, no longer the party secretary but still a committee member, hasn’t responded to a request for comment. He has served one term and is one of four candidates (and the only Democrat) running for two Town Board seats on Tuesday.

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