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Rockland County Election Postmortem 2015

by Lisa Kaess

It’s been an interesting off-year election, marked by upsets, incumbent victories, and a whole lot of ugly. Here are three takeaways from a 20 year Rockland resident.VoteButton201303

  • Rockland’s Reform Drive is Real. Given the fact that registered voters in the county skew heavily Democrat means thousands abandoned their party to deliver a message. Voters cleaned house in Clarkstown. They took out a relatively well-liked mayor in the Village of Suffern. And while Christopher St. Lawrence held on as Supervisor, his margin of victory narrowed, losing support in his home base of Ramapo. Clarkstown Trustee George Hoehmann and his Republican colleagues won a decisive victory in part because of who they were not – now they’ll need to govern and deliver results. Democrats in both areas who dismiss the result as an off-year driven by outside money could benefit from a fresh approach.
  • Blocs – and our own.  The level of vitriol worsened in 2015, with ads and social media posts carrying thinly-veiled innuendo, nasty robocalls, and a stream of mailers that many residents promptly tossed. It was not hard to find echoes of the early rounds of the 2016 Presidential campaigns around us. In Spring Valley the level of discourse has become so toxic that trustees have engaged multiple attorneys – with taxpayers all too often footing the bill. As Rodney King asked during the 1992 LA riotscan we all get along? Shulem Deen, an author and former New Square resident, recently challenged a local audience to engage our neighbors, rather than disrespect and dismiss, reminding us we share a common humanity. That however does not preclude the vigorous enforcement of housing codes, efforts to fight fraud and waste, or demands that children receive a decent education. After all, our tax dollars directly or indirectly support these actions.
  • Solid candidates and effective campaigns still win. After two calls in previous elections (the last by two votes), Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart (D) was emerged victorious after a hard-fought race against Michael Moroney, son of County Legislator Patrick Moroney. Results indicate he received a fair amount of crossover support. In addition to the Orangetown Supervisor, a number local officials ran unopposed (some might quip that no one wanted their jobs). They included a number of county legislators and the village mayors of Piermont, Nyack, and Haverstraw.

Looking ahead, leaders and residents will continue to grapple with quality of life issues while maintaining fiscal restraint. Officials will continue to search for rateables similar to the Bloomberg data center, which add revenue while maintaining the environment. And with Preserve Ramapo and Preserve Rockland impacting a number of local races, it will be interesting to see whether opposition to development projects in Nyack follows a similar path.

Lisa Kaess blogs for the Huffington Post. Her articles have also appeared in The Journal News, USA Today and Yahoo Finance.


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