Letter: Berky’s ‘concession to the community’

Jennifer Schwartz Berky (photo by Nancy Donskoj)

In what was a tough race, many diverse voices of the community came out to support me, the One Kingston slate, and the working people and families of Kingston. Although I am disappointed that I no longer have the privilege to serve as your representative, I accept the results for Mr. Woltman.

I am deeply grateful for the outpouring of support during this campaign. As a lifelong community builder, it has been an honor be Kingston’s legislator in District 7 of the Ulster County Legislature. My deepest gratitude goes to my family, many friends and volunteers, and especially Citizen Action of New York, the Working Families Party, the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation (AFL-CIO), Ulster People for Justice and Democracy, and the Kingston and Ulster County Democrats, all of whom endorsed me and stood by me throughout this entire campaign.

At this time of great tension in our country, we need to move toward reconciliation. This week we celebrated a milestone here in the State of New York, where one century ago, Susan B. Anthony and her supporters succeeded in getting the vote for women. More than a half a century ago, the Voting Rights Act was signed into law aiming to overcome barriers for African Americans to vote at the state and local levels. In the past year since the presidential election, many of us have become even more engaged in the political process. We are proof that, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” We all may not have won tonight; there are still many wounds to heal in our community and in our nation.


As we start the next century, the next 50 years, and 2018, I hope that more women and people who truly reflect the diversity of our community will continue to strive for public office and positions of leadership. Let’s carry on for equal access and equal rights across the board.

The high turnout in this local election is a sign of the great strides we can make in 2018. For those who do not agree with us today, in the spirit of what our country’s frequent and fair elections are all about, it is my sincere hope that we can have real dialogue about what is best for all of us, for the public good.

Among the many initiatives and milestones I have worked on with my colleagues in the Ulster County Legislature, including our efforts to continue promoting sustainable, equitable development, environmental protection, and supporting small, innovative local businesses, I am most proud of standing up for members of this community who have felt voiceless. My work has engaged them in the political process, and brought forward initiatives to protect the human rights of people who suffer from discrimination. In my continued capacity as a community builder, I pledge to be a champion for “restorative justice,” so that our county and city can be the most welcoming and thriving they can be: a model for what’s next for all in our country.

All who know me know that I have shared myself with this community wholeheartedly. I shall never regret stepping into the arena. As Brené Brown has so eloquently described this, “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy — the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

I wish, for all who feel voiceless and for all who are vulnerable, that you will continue to share yourselves wholeheartedly, too, by participating in our democratic process. Never give up on love and belonging.

It has been an honor to represent you.

Jennifer Schwartz Berky

There are 9 comments

  1. JamaicaonHudson

    That was an eloquent concession.

    That said, I, as one of the 811 Kingstonians who voted for this woman, realize that (despite an embarrassing traffic stop) she was the more qualified candidate. In addition, the Democratic and Working Families Parties (both locally and nationally) had a huge gains in the Mid-Term Elections. It says something that, even in the contentious race for the Seventh Legislative District, a candidate they endorsed (Schwartz-Berky) garnered nearly 45% of the vote–that’s in the face of viral video and negative publicity that went national. The fact the loss wasn’t “a blowout”, as erroneously anticipated it would be, shows how strong the aforementioned groups in Ms. Schwartz-Berky’s district and many in the constituency rallied for her. In short, she had (and still has) a lot of support here…

    In addition, despite the negative press concerning this candidate, One Kingston (and the coalition supporting them) was the overall winner on Election Day. The fact is, the majority of their candidates won–which was not the case for those in the “Restore Kingston Pride” camp.

    Going foward, I hope that the winning side uses their political capital to further bolster the presence of those voices underrepresented and maligned in this community. And, I would hope (even though the economic growth we are currently experiencing is a good thing), address gentrification…

    In anycase, I’m glad that Jennifer Schwartz-Berky was our representative and wish her well in whatever she choses to do next…

  2. Kingston Joker

    Wait til they get a load of Woltman. They will long for the days Berky represented them. He is a buffoon who lest we forget, has no moral or ethical character as demonstrated by his willingness to selfishly change his political party. When he switched parties, it was not out of some philosophical enlightenment, it was done out of vengeance to his former party who knew enough to not support him. One has to ask why they didn’t support him, no?

    In my opinion, it is not a coincidence that one of the responding officers to Berky’s stop was Woltman’s son or that his son’s employers decided to release the now infamous traffic stop video. I am still waiting for the release of the video from other prominent or not, citizens who have been stopped by the police in Ulster. I will use a staffer for County Exec Mike Hein who had an equally embarrassing traffic stop and subsequent arrest as an example (reference below with name ommitted). He too I am told, used his position to try and persuade the officers to let him go after a hit and run drunk driving incident. He dropped even more names than Berky!

    Putting this out there to kind of level the historical playing field. Did Ms. Berky make a mistake? Yes she did. Was the release of the video and it’s aftermath contrived? I believe so. There before the grace of God goes each of us. Let’s hope the political machine does not wield its’s despicable power like this again.

    Reference to Hein staffer: Xxxx X. Xxxxxx, xx, address unavailable, was arrested by town of Ulster police at about 1:50 a.m. Sunday and was charged with drunken driving and aggravated drunk driving with a blood-alcohol content greater than 0.18 percent, both misdemeanors, and with the infraction of leaving the scene of a property damage automobile accident. The arrest followed investigation of a reported dispute in the Taco Bell parking lot in the town of Ulster following a car accident, police said. Xxxxxxx was released with tickets for Ulster Town Court.

    1. S. Singleton

      The issue was never about Berky’s opponent, credentials or otherwise. It was about Berky’s atrocious behavior, and your comparison to Hein’s staffer’s situation as some sort of moral equivalance is equally bogus. Hein is the elected official whose behavior has to be beyond reproach, for your comparison to matter.

      Your argument is as weak as Berky’s curbside excuses, and that’s no joke.

  3. S. Singleton

    “The fact the loss wasn’t “a blowout”, as erroneously anticipated it would be, shows how strong the aforementioned groups in Ms. Schwartz-Berky’s district and many in the constituency rallied for her. ”

    I think it shows just how anxious those groups were to put party affiliation first, as well as just how low the public’s expectations have been lowered with respect to so-called “credentials”.

    Your having put “lipstick on a pig”, and her public statement, post-election, demonstrate just how hollowed-out our politics have become. You’ve glazed-over entirely that whatever negative publicity Ms. Schwartz-Berky garnered, she earned by her own behavior.

    I’m counting the minutes until she’s appointed to something out of reach of the public’s sentiment, but I am pleased to see, for one brief moment, common sense prevail.

  4. Don Juan

    It still amazes me how clueless the average American citizen is. Ms. Berkys good bye rant was nothing more than non sensical drivel. Ms. Berky talks about making our community a model for what’s next in our country. Well how about our representatives be a model for what’s next in our country. The fact that our political leaders- on both sides of the isle cannot themselves be accountable for there own actions. The fact that Ms. Berky waited until word got out about her moronic and embarrassing tyrade to even acknowledge what she did is all any of her constituents should need to remove her from public office. The fact she received votes at all makes me feel ashamed of our community. I believe in forgiving people of their mistakes, we all make them. However you must really believe you are wrong ( i do not believe Ms. Berky does) in order to really make a change. Please do us all a favor —never run again Ms. Berky and i beg you to please stay out of public office for the reminder of your life.

  5. Don Juan

    Oh-sorry all but one last thing Ms. Schwartz – Berky, it was also Martin Luther King jr. that also said”

    “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

    Funny how you so called public servants start quoting real leaders only when you feel It can help you.
    I’m disgusted.

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