Astorino Re-Elected County Executive; Property Tax Relief to Continue

Rob Astorino

Rob Astorino took the biggest prize election night in Westchester County when he was re-elected Westchester County executive by a 55-45 percent margin over Noam Bramson. Westchester voters validated Astorino’s first four years as county executive, and the promises he made, to put the taxpayers first, control spending, and pass three county budgets with a 0 percent property tax increase. “I came into office four years ago because the Westchester dream was becoming unaffordable. We have worked to find a healthy balance between the government we want and the government that the taxpayers can afford,” said Astorino, who congratulated Bramson for running a good and tough race.

Bramson conceded early on election night and congratulated Astorino, while saying: “I’m more committed to public service than I have ever been.” Astorino’s victory is even more impressive considering the following obstacles he overcame to secure another four years as county executive: Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-1 margin in Westchester. Astorino won as a Republican and his message of controlling property taxes resonated with Democrats, Independents and Republicans.

Astorino won re-election without the Independence line, the first time that any Republican has won a countywide election without it in decades. Four years ago, Astorino had the Independence line and received 8 percent of the vote on that line. This year he won re-election by 10 points without it, underscoring his appeal to a cross-section of Westchester residents who voted for Astorino regardless of party. High-profile endorsements for Bramson from former President Bill Clinton, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and almost every elected Democrat in Westchester and New York State did not equate into votes for Bramson, the Democratic mayor of New Rochelle.

Astorino’s ability to win decisively as a Republican in a Democratic majority county in two consecutive elections, 2009 and 2013, makes him one of the rising Republican  stars in New York State.“Too often  in politics we focus on what divides us, but we need to focus in this country more on what unites us. And that’s what this campaign did,” he said. “The days of unrestrained taxing and spending in New York has to end. We are hemorrhaging jobs to other parts of the country. We are controlling overtaxing and overspending in Westchester and we have kept our promises.”T

he voters validated Astorino’s campaign message of contrasting his record of controlling taxes on the county level to Bramson’s record as mayor of New Rochelle, of passing budgets that exceeded the property tax cap. And the voters rejected Bramson’s campaign message of contrasting his views on federal issues like abortion and gun control with Astorino’s, and trying to label Astorino as a Tea Party Conservative. In the end, the Westchester voters who came out Tuesday were knowledgeable and did their homework.

They realized the county executive has little impact on abortion and gun control, and were most concerned about property taxes, and like the recent Marist poll, want their next county executive to focus on property ax relief. For the next four years, the majority of Westchester voters who believe that Westchester is headed in the right direction and who voted for Rob Astorino can look forward to a county executive who has imposed his own tax cap – of 0 percent.

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Third Party and Write-in Candidates for 4th District

By Dan Murphy and Ben Cohn

Can you win elective office in the City of Yonkers without running on the Democratic or Republican line? When was the last time a minor party, or Independent Party candidate won a seat on the Yonkers City Council? Former

Brandon Neider

Brandon Neider

City Clerk Joan Deierlein could not remember a candidate for mayor or council winning without the Democrat or Republican line.

Former Mayor Angelo Martinelli may have come the closest, forming a party line to run against Republican Pete Chema and Democrat Terrence Zaleski in 1991. Zaleski won, but Martinelli got 30 percent of the vote on a third party line. Many third party candidates have run for mayor in Yonkers in addition to Martinelli, in the 1970s and 1980’s, but did not win. Can any of this year’s crop of six candidates break through?

Nineteen-year-old Brandon Neider is running for City Council in the Fourth District (against Republican Dennis Shepherd and Democrat Tim Theotokatos). Neider, a graduate of Lincoln High School and a student at Westchester Community College, collected enough signatures – 600 – to form his own party, which he calls the New York State Constituents Party, to appear on the ballot for City Council.

Neider’s petitions were scrutinized and challenged, but upheld by the Board of Elections. He said he is running because he doesn’t feel that the people of the Fourth District are being well represented by either the Democrats or Republicans. “I want to be a community-oriented councilman,” he said. “I’m running on a third party to avoid the restrictions that come with running for one of the main parties…I’m running in this district because I care for it, I’ve put a lot into it even though I’m young, but before I even announced my candidacy I knew our neighborhoods, our associations, and our district.

“I can’t see why someone would come in and attempt to represent something he has little association to – if any,” he continued. “It’s like if I moved to New Rochelle and the first thing I did was run for office with zero knowledge of any thing about the city. Let’s even be realistic, when you say you want to lower taxes but increase school funding greatly and bring back or add more services, you are just creating magic money or you’re being a typical politician.”

As a recent graduate of the Yonkers Public Schools system, Neider said he wants YPS to have additional funding and perform better, but residents have to be realistic on what can be provided right now. “I want to lower taxes, but we must be realistic when we say that; I guaranteed that I will push to cut ridiculous spending when I come across it,” he said. “I don’t owe party favors on either end, and I only represent one group and that’s the citizens of this district and this city,” continued Neider. “I’m a candidate who’s really integrated with the community not the political system. That’s why I’m running for City Council, and why I believe I should be our City Council member for this district.”

Neider has received the endorsement from Local 200 United Service Employees International Union. He gained a lot of press from other media outlets over the summer, so we shied away from covering his campaign. But we congratulate Neider most for collecting enough valid signatures and forming his own party line. That is a good accomplishment for anyone at any age, and Brandon deserves his day in Yonkers Rising.

Jason Hungreder

Two candidates who are still running in November had difficulties collecting enough valid signatures. Jason Hundreger is running in November on the Working Families Party in the Sixth District (against Republican candidate John Larkin). Hundreger was the Democratic nominee but failed to submit enough valid signatures to stay on the ballot as a Democrat.

After getting knocked off the Democratic ballot, Hungreder vowed to continue his campaign paign on the Working Families Party line. Grace Borrani’s campaign for City Council president continues into November after she was knocked off the Republican line for not having enough signatures, and after losing a Conservative Party primary to Liam McLaughlin. But like Neider, Borrani collected enough signatures to form her own party, named the Every Vote Counts Party, and will be on the ballot Nov. 5.

City Council president candidate Ivy Reeves who narrowly lost the Democratic primary to Michael Rotanelli last month, announced that she will continue her campaign as a write-in candidate. In a video posted on YouTube, Reeves thanks the 2,048 Democrats who came out to vote for her for council president in September.

“Every single vote counts. If the Democrats lose the majority on the City Council, things will change and not for the better. We need to do a write-in; there is room on each ballot at the bottom to write my name in – Ivy Reeves – and fill in the vcircle to the left. Get out and vote Nov. 5. Please get out and vote Nov. 5; this isn’t over yet.” While Reeves was pressured to not run a write-in campaign and support the Democratic nominee for council president, Michael Rotanelli, Reeves told Yonkers Rising: “I feel a sense of responsibility to the 2,000 people who voted for me to continue my campaign and run as a write-in.”

Some write-in campaigns are successful; McLaughlin just won a write-in campaign in the Conservative Party primary for council president. But the number of voters increases drastically in a general election, requiring the write-in candidate to get more voters to write in their name. Delfim Heusler continued his campaign against Republican County Legislator Gordon Burrows.

Heusler, a blogger at http://www.yonkersinsider.com, is running on the Working Families Party line, with no Democrat in the race, in the15th District. Councilman Wilson Terrero is still running on the Independence Party line for re-election to represent the Second District. Terrero narrowly lost the Democratic primary for council to Corazon Pineda.

Terrero, who appeared at a Yonkers Democratic campaign office with Pineda, is still holding out hope that he can win re-election, on the Independence party line. All six candidates are considered long shots to win their races, but are exercising their right to run for office. Look for their names on the ballot –or write them in – Nov. 5.