Four Orange legislators will forgo reelection

Four Orange County legislators – the current Republican and Democratic leaders, and the last two Democratic leaders – plan to bow out this year when elections are held for all 21 county Legislature seats.

Chris Eachus, a New Windsor Democrat who’s been on the Legislature for 12 years and led the Democratic caucus in 2014 and 2015, confirmed this week he won’t seek reelection in November. Eachus, who ran unsuccessfully to unseat Republican state Sen. Bill Larkin in 2012 and 2016, said he took seriously the arguments he made in support of term limits in his campaign last year. So he decided to term limit himself – to invite new faces and new ideas.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that politicians, as a body, are not going to impose term limits on themselves,” Eachus said. He didn’t rule out running for another office in the future, but said he had no immediate political plans.

Melissa Bonacic, a Greenville Republican who has served four, four-year terms on the Legislature and has led the Republican majority since 2010, announced weeks ago that she won’t seek another term. “It truly has been an honor and a privilege to represent the people of the 2nd Legislative District,” she said by email this week. “As to the future, I can only say that I will keep my options open.”

Jeff Berkman, a Middletown Democrat who’s been on the Legislature since 1998 and is its second longest-serving member, announced on his weekly talk show on WTBQ radio station on Wednesday that he won’t run for re-election this year. Berkman, who represents most of Middletown, led the Democratic minority for five years, passing the torch to Eachus in 2014.

“It’s been an honor to serve the people of Middletown and Orange County,” Berkman said Friday. He said that he had considered stepping aside for a while, and that he’s now exploring new opportunities.

Matt Turnbull, a Hamptonburgh Democrat who’s been a county lawmaker since 2012 and is in his second year as party leader, also has said he won’t run for reelection. He has been active this year in recruiting Democrats to run for the Legislature, which Republicans have ruled every year except one since that body came into existence in 1970.

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    Chris McKenna covers Orange County government and politics for the Times Herald-Record. He has been a reporter at the newspaper since 1999. Read Full

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