By Dan Murphy
Yonkers Rising welcomed Frank Spotorno to our offices to discuss his run for City Council president. Spotorno, an elevator manufacturing business owner and a national supporter and founder of Bring Our Jobs Home Campaign, is seeking the Democratic Party line to succeed Council President Chuck Lesnick, who is term-limited from running again.
Spotorno began the discussion with a story: A first-time candidate, Spotorno recently attended the Westchester Independence Party dinner, where party Chairman Dr. Giulio Cavallo questioned him in front of the crowd of 400, asking: “Are you a Republican or a Democrat.”
Spotorno responded “I’m an American.”
Frank Spotorno moved to Yonkers from Queens in 1999. “A friend of mine (PAL Board member Sal Corrente) told me about a beautiful house for sale in Yonkers. I fell in love with the house and love living in Yonkers,” he said.
Since 2007, Spotorno has been focused on his business and his call to bring jobs that have traveled overseas over the past 30 years back to America. His website, The Alliance of Americans for Americans – www.aoafa.org – works on a national level to push Congress and the president to support American jobs efforts, and to support good paying jobs.
While some say the issue is a national one and does not affect Yonkers, Spotorno disagrees.
“Our country is $17 trillion in debt, and it’s because we lost most of our good-paying jobs,” he said. “When there is no money on the federal level, there is no money from the state and no money for Yonkers.”
Spotorno said the people of Yonkers should vote for him because he will fight to bring jobs home to Yonkers, and will use his national experience to benefit Yonkers. Further, he said he wants to use the Office of Council President as a bully pulpit “to ask corporate American to bring some jobs home to Yonkers, or somewhere in the State of New York so we can start generating revenues to pay for our police and firefighters and educate our children.”
“I will work with the mayor to contact IBM and Apple and ask for jobs for Yonkers residents, instead of exporting all of our jobs to Mexico, Canada and China,” said Spotorno. “We don’t need GM or any company to bring backs all of the jobs, but brings 10,000 back. Apple employs half a million people in China, but if America goes broke we won’t be able to afford to buy an iPhone.”
He said Yonkers has a great history, with the industrialization as a country born and bred in Yonkers – going all the way back to Adrian Van der Donck.
“If you aren’t collecting revenues from our empty factories, you need to invite a company in. If you are collecting zero in revenue, give them incentives to come to Yonkers,” he said. “Many people in Yonkers need a good job. We aren’t a city of takers, we want jobs but were sold out by companies who abandoned our communities for more profits by taking those jobs overseas. It’s affecting every city in the country including Yonkers … If you think we can bring good paying jobs back to Yonkers, then I ask for your vote. I’m an advocate for labor and to provide jobs to those who need it and allow businesses who want to expand to come to Yonkers.”
Spotorno wants to use his business experience to finds cost savings in the city’s $990 million budget.
“Looking to lay off firefighters and first responders is the wrong answer when money is being wasted on a $15,000 computer and $22,000 desks, and a $15 million project to redo all of the windows in City Hall,” he said. “I know we can do better. We can cut $15 million from the budget without laying off anyone or closing fire houses.”
Spotorno believes that the free trade agreements signed over the decades – the North American Free Trade Agreement signed by President Bill Clinton, the Central American Free Trade Agreement signed by President George W. Bush, and the Asian Free Trade Agreement signed by President Barrack Obama – were bad deals for middle-class Americans.
“President Obama said the Asian Free Trade Agreement would generate jobs when in fact we lost another 1.2 million jobs,” he said. “I’m for free trade and for the right of any company who wants to move their company overseas to have that right. I could have moved my company to Mexico or Indonesia, but I don’t want to be a part of selling-out our country … If we don’t have jobs for our people in Yonkers, then how can we expect to have the revenues the city needs to pay for a quality education in modern schools, and youth and seniors programs. The issue of bringing back jobs to America has everything to do with Yonkers, and that’s why I’m running for council president.
“I’m passionate about Yonkers, I love this city and I’m bringing something different to this election: a positive message about how can turn it around,” he said. “Yes, I’m a political outsider but I think it’s time for a newcomer to give the people a choice.”
Spotorno will not likely seek the Yonkers Democratic Party’s nomination for at its May 17 convention, and will attempt to collect the 1,000 signatures needed to get on the ballot for a Democratic primary in September.
The only other announced Democratic council president candidate is businessman Mike Rotanelli, but many still expect another candidate to come forward.
Former City Councilman Republican Liam McLaughlin announced his council president run last month, and realtor Grace Borrelli has also announced her run.
Anyone running for council president or City Council in the second, fourth and sixth districts, or for the four Yonkers seats on the County Board of Legislators, can contact Yonkers Rising for an interview.