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Democratic Primary Closing Arguments: Rockland County Executive

Registered Democrats will go to the polls on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 to select either Ilan Schoenberger or David Fried as the Democratic Candidate for Rockland County Executive. Polling places will be open from 6a-9p.

Many polling places have changed since the last election cycle, so visit the Rockland County Board of Elections to find out where you should vote.

Here are closing arguments from each candidate.

David Fried

In the 28 years since Rockland County elected its first County Executive, two men have held the position – Scott Vanderhoef for 20 of those years. Since I announced my candidacy in December, I’ve spoken to thousands of voters – Democrats and Republicans alike – and the universal sentiment is that Rockland needs a new direction.

Over the past few years, Rockland’s finances have deteriorated at an alarming rate. The budget surplus of just a few years ago is now a budget deficit – more than $125,000,000. Rockland’s once-solid credit rating has atrophied to the lowest in New York. In this election, Rockland voters have a choice – a choice between the status quo and the tried and failed politics of yesterday versus a new direction and the politics of possibility.
DavidFried201212aMy vision for Rockland is where county government works with, not against, towns and villages. Instead of sending Supervisors and Mayors six and seven-figure tax bills in an effort to abdicate deficit responsibility, county government should be partnering with colleagues in governing, looking for new and innovative ways to save taxpayers money. By partnering with local governments and the business community, we can promote the smart, sustainable growth Rockland sorely needs, turning vacant lots and empty storefronts into engines of economic opportunity.

As County Executive, I will make the tough decisions that have been delayed for too long. We need to overhaul the way government does business. Before anyone is hired, every county government job will be audited for necessity. The positions that are filled will be filled based on experience and qualifications, not political cronyism.

With majestic vistas of the Hudson River and scenic hiking trails populating the county’s many parks, Rockland is unsurpassed in its beauty. That beauty is under threat by unchecked over-development. While our economy needs growth, that growth needs to be smart and sustainable. We can no longer be naive about overdevelopment in one town affecting the others. Mother Nature doesn’t know about and doesn’t care about municipal borders. As County Executive, the County Planning Department will be filled with professionals who understand the balance between development and the environment.

As a Judge, you have to listen to all sides of argument, carefully consider all the evidence, and then come to a conclusion. With the proposed Hudson River water desalination plant, that’s exactly what I did. After visiting the plant, talking with environmental advocates, and utility company representatives, I came to the conclusion that we just don’t have enough information to warrant a multi-million dollar project that will raise the water bills for Rockland families. Predicated on continued overdevelopment, the necessity of the proposed plant also assumes that United Water will continue to violate Rockland’s water sharing agreement with Bergen County, sending millions of gallons of excess water to New Jersey. Since the plant was first proposed, Rockland’s aquifers were found to be replenishing themselves far more quickly than United Water assumed. Given all the information, I oppose the desalination plant.

While serving in the County Legislator, I testified before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in support of the closure of Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant. From my experience as Chair of the Legislature’s Public Safety Committee, along with my membership on the Rockland County Homeland Security Taskforce, I know all too well of the dangers of a nuclear power plant in such close proximity to New York City. The plant also has a less than stellar safety record – warning sirens not working and leaking radioactive water into the Hudson River, among other problems. As County Executive, I will continue to oppose the plant’s relicensing and I will work with state and federal officials to make sure the Indian Point is closed.

There are already some projects already in motion that will greatly affect life in Rockland. The new Tappan Zee Bridge’s construction has already begun in earnest, with disruptions to the county’s river villages – disruptions that will only grow more significant as the bridge’s construction progresses. As County Executive, I will work to ensure that all efforts to mitigate construction’s affects are made. We also need to work to ensure long-term improvements are made to public transportation within Rockland.

With a $125,000,000 deficit, the lowest credit rating in New York, and an economy reeling, Rockland County faces great challenges. Yet for all the obstacles facing us, our capacity to meet the challenges is without limit. As your next County Executive, together, we will move Rockland forward.

Ilan Schoenberger

Like every resident of Rockland County, I too am gravely concerned about the future of our county. After serving in county government for over 35 years, I decided to seek the office of Rockland County Executive to secure a better future for my family and yours.


For over 50 years, I have been a resident of Rockland County. I am a graduate of Clarkstown High School and SUNY Rockland, and also graduated from Pace University and St. John’s Law School. With Rhoda, my wife of over 40 years, I raised a family in Rockland and have roots that run deep in the community.

My experiences in government have been extensive and diverse. For over 40 years, I have been a practicing attorney in Rockland, and put my knowledge and experience to use for the public.

In 1975, I began my county government career as the Assistant County Attorney, and in 1983, I was appointed County Attorney, a position I held for over ten years. When the County Charter was written, I helped to write it, and when the County Executive’s office was proposed, I helped create it as the County Attorney.

In 1995, I was elected to the Rockland County Legislature, and have served there for over 17 years. As a legislator, I also served as a chair of numerous key committees, including Budget and Finance, and Planning and Public Works. I was also the Chair of the Legislature in 2001 and 2002.

My knowledge of county government runs truly deep. That is why when I look at the situation our county is in, I know that the next County Executive will need to have the experience and understanding that I have gained over the years to find the solutions our county needs.

There are five main issues I intend to tackle as County Executive:

  1. Eliminate The County Deficit: As a County Legislator, I wrote the Deficit Reduction Act, and as County Executive I will ensure it is followed, so that ten million dollars from each year’s budget goes directly toward eliminating the deficit. I will install sound financial practices in county government so that the deficit never happens again.
  2. Create The County Comptroller Post: As County Executive, I will create an independently elected office of County Comptroller to manage the county’s finances and restore financial accountability to Rockland’s government. It will cost taxpayers nothing extra, as it will replace the existing Finance Commissioner post.
  3. Rebuild Rockland’s Infrastructure: Rockland has crumbling roads, streets, and bridges. As County Executive, I will partner with the towns and villages to repair our broken roads and drainage infrastructure – which will create real jobs for Rockland in the process. I will also modernize our highway facilities to deal with 21st century issues.
  4. Open The Office Of County Executive: As Rockland’s next County Executive, I will open the doors of the County Executive’s office to the people of Rockland. I will hold regular open meetings for members of the public to discuss issues with me and all county department heads, so that issues can be addressed immediately and correctly.
  5. Be A Hands-On Manager Of County Government: I will use my detailed knowledge of county government to be a day-to-day manager of government. With a hands-on approach, I will ensure that government in Rockland runs more efficiently, provides the services it needs to, and is in control of its finances.

In this race, I am the only candidate with a lifetime of personal and governmental experience in Rockland to be able to effectively manage our numerous departments, stabilize our finances, and modernize county government to work more efficiently and less expensively for taxpayers. My experience makes me uniquely qualified to lead Rockland out of this era of deficits beginning on Day One of my new term.

Rockland’s challenges were not caused by a single issue or person. Having a County Executive who understands the sources of our government’s problems and is able to identify all the potential solutions to those problems is critical, and is what sets my candidacy apart from others.

Whether it is differences between governments or differences between the diverse residents who call Rockland County their home, we need a County Executive who will work to unite everyone. The challenges of county government are shared by us all – and so we must have a County Executive that will bring solutions for us all – by uniting us toward a common goal of ushering in a new era of leadership in Rockland government.

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