Less than nine months before Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus faces re-election for the first time since he took office in 2014, it remains unclear which Democratic candidate will be on the ballot to challenge him.
Assemblyman James Skoufis, a Woodbury Democrat who won a third term in November and whose profile has risen since he took office, took himself out of consideration this week. In a press release on Thursday, Skoufis said he was humbled that supporters and friends had encouraged him to run, but that he preferred to remain a “substantial voice” in Albany on “tax, education, labor, veterans, health, economic development” and other issues, a much broader portfolio than he would have in county office.
Taking a jab at the Republican incumbent, Skoufis added: “My neighbors in Orange County deserve an Executive who offers bold, honest leadership, not the combination of partisan politics and play-it-safe policy that we’ve seen. I look forward to supporting a candidate for County Executive who offers a real, sustainable vision for our community that effectively tackles the challenging issues we face.”
Michael Sussman, the attorney and Democratic activist, indicated as early as November that he was considering a run for county executive, and he has been meeting with groups of supporters to discuss specific issues that might drive such a campaign. He told the Times Herald-Record on Friday that he is continuing to develop the framework of a Democratic platform with those groups, but has not decided yet whether he would in fact be the party’s standard bearer.
“We’re looking to really try to lead with ideas,” Sussman said, listing economic development, urban development, jobs, arts and recreation as some of the discussion areas. He argued it was more important now to focus on the goals instead of the candidate – “the whys and the whats perhaps more than the whos.”
“When the time is right,” he said, “whoever the Democratic candidate is will have a platform to stand on.”