On Sept. 9, I, a Valley View family member, attended an event, listed on the Valley View activities calendar as a “social.” This turned out, however, to be a campaign event, hosted by James O’Donnell and three supporters. Most staff and none of the residents and families who went knew they were attending a political campaign event. The purpose was to solicit votes for James O’Donnell, former deputy county executive in the Diana administration, for the legislative seat in the 21st district. This was the seat vacated by Shannon Wong and currently held by Phil Canterino.
Mr. O’Donnell and his “supporters,” assisted by Valley View staff, handed out cupcakes, punch, and raffle tickets. After the distribution of the “goodies,” O’Donnell announced he was running for a one-year term as county legislator. He stated, “l will never sell Valley View and I will take no salary.” O’Donnell also promised to come back to Valley View once per month for the next year with cupcakes, punch, and raffle tickets (winning raffle ticket-holders received prizes.) O’Donnell’s parting gift to each attendant was an envelope with a Vote for O’Donnell palm card, an O’Donnell pen, and a handwritten note signed by James D. O’Donnell saying, “I will NEVER sell Valley View.”
I hope Valley View residents, families, and all voters in the district that covers Goshen, parts of Blooming Grove, and Wawayanda remember what Deputy County Executive O’Donnell had to say in 2012 when he was trumpeting the cause of the Diana administration and most of the Republican legislators. Let me refresh your memory. This is from the May 22, 2012, minutes of the Health and Mental Health Committee: ” Mr. O’Donnell commented that expectation was that they [the legislature] would sell the facility…… Mr. O’Donnell went on to explain the closure plan and that if the Legislature fails to sell Valley View at the June 7th Legislative Session, they are voting to close Valley View …”
Please remember the fear, angst, turmoil, and worry that beset Valley View residents, families, and employees for years. It took a lawsuit to stop what Diana, O’Donnell, and others had hoped to illegally accomplish with 12, instead of 14 legislative votes.
Voters, please do not be taken in by promises of Valley View monthly cupcake parties. Instead, vote for Canterino. His message has been consistent since he ran in 2013. How prophetic Canterino was when he stated, “This facility [Valley View] has the ability to be self sufficient with proper management.” Let’s continue that legacy and not return to office, those who were hell bent on selling/closing Valley View.
Mary Ann McDonough