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Published: 3/29/2024

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Benjamin Traudt

(845) 486-2103

Poughkeepsie, NY--   The Dutchess County Legislature will consider a resolution in April authorizing the Dutchess County Attorney to challenge New York State’s mandate to move local elections from odd-numbered years to even-numbered years. If approved, Dutchess County will join a growing number of charter counties in New York to take legal action against the state on the grounds that the newly minted law represents an unconstitutional circumvention of the county charter enacted by county residents.

“I made it clear the day I became chairman that we would fight this unconstitutional power grab with any available measure” said Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Will Truitt. “Every member of the legislature swore an oath at our Organizational Meeting in January to uphold the county charter. We simply cannot sit idly by as the state attempts to circumvent the very charter that we all swore to uphold.”

The bill mandating this change, S.3505B/A.4282, was signed into law by Governor Hochul in December of last year over the strenuous objection of numerous local leaders and the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC).

“The charter, which was enacted by the residents of the county, specifically states that elections for county offices are to be held in odd-numbered years” said Majority Leader Deirdre Houston. “There is a process in place to amend the charter, a change as monumental as this would have required the approval of the voters. New York State decided to unilaterally change the mode of our elections without so much as consulting the voters of Dutchess County. In my view, this represents a blatant disregard for the people of Dutchess County and their desire for local control.”

“The County Charter is the foundational document of Dutchess County Government” added Assistant Majority Leader Michael Polasek. “The charter has been in place, at the voters’ behest, since 1967 and has guided generations of county leaders. This episode serves as a frightening harbinger of a state government that blatantly disregards local control. If the state feels empowered to strike down one of the main pillars of our very foundational document, they will feel empowered to usurp local voters at every turn. The people of Dutchess County do not favor a more intrusive state government. It is for this reason that I believe it is incumbent upon us to fight back against this overreaching action.”

This resolution must first win the approval of the Dutchess County Legislature’s Government Services & Administration Committee at their April 4th meeting. If approved, it heads to the full legislature for consideration on April 8th.