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Dubious Robo Calls and Attack Ads as Tight Rockland Races Twist to the Finish Line

Rockland County finds itself in the national spotlight due to the high-profile showdown for the 17th Congressional District, which pits Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney (left) against Republican Mike Lawler (right).

This week in the Villages: Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8, and the contentious battle for the 17th Congressional district leads an interesting slate of “toss-up” races to represent Rockland at almost every level of government. Plus, all your final election day updates and voting information, more local news, your weekly weather prediction, health updates, upcoming meetings and much more. Thanks for being here!

Leading Off: Tight Rockland races twist to the finish line

Political campaigns in Rockland and across the country made their final case to voters over the weekend — with tight races all around and control of Congress as well as the top job in New York at stake.

Here in Rockland, voters cast their ballots in the final days of early voting on Saturday and Sunday even as local campaigns made their final pitches to voters still weighing their options or, perhaps, thinking about sitting this one out.

Midterm turnout is traditionally much lower, but this year there’s a big-ticket congressional race that may jolt this local electorate into action.

There’s now a national spotlight on the race for the newly redrawn 17th Congressional District, in which Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney (an incumbent in NY-18) is running against NY Assembly Member Michael Lawler, a Republican. Observers are saying that either candidate could win.

The Cook Political Report shifted its prediction in the race from “Lean Democrat” to “Toss Up” on October 24th.

And the race took a twist on Sunday night, when many Rockland voters received an automated call from someone who identified themself as Moshe Klein of Kiryas Joel (a village in Orange County where a vast majority of residents identify as Hasidic Jews). The call urges voters to support Rep. Maloney “in the name of our Grand Rabbis.”

A spokesperson for Maloney said his campaign was not responsible for the robocall and said the call was a “deceptive, anti-Semitic smear campaign.” A spokesperson for Lawler said “the calls were not from us, and we have no idea who made them.”

Local Democratic leaders said they suspected that the call was not authentic, and that it was made by someone seeking to harm Maloney’s chances.

“It’s a fearmongering tactic trying to cast doubt about Democratic voters,” said Stephanie Hausner, a Democrat and former Clarkstown Council member.

The Jewish Federation & Foundation of Rockland County, a nonprofit organization, released a statement calling the robocall a “a cynical and hateful attempt to manipulate voters.”

The New York Times gave recently gave the NY17 race the NYT treatment — in that they focused almost solely on who was going to win and how it would affect control of Congress. The Times’ flagship podcast, The Daily, dedicated an entire show to the increasing likelihood that reliably blue New York could swing red this election season. They cite Maloney, a Democratic party heavyweight, being challenged and possibly upset in a reliably blue district as clear evidence that times have changed.

City and State did some good work digging into and essentially debunking Republican attempts (Lawler, et al.) to link President Biden’s immigration policy to increased addiction rates and drug use in the Hudson Valley.

Business Insider’s overview story on the race points out, interestingly, that Maloney earned his first congressional election by beating out a Republican incumbent in the 18th district back in 2012. They also lay out the money game. While Maloney has out spent Lawler by about $5 million to $1 million, Lawler’s received at least $4 million in attack ad spending from a political action committee (which, as we wrote earlier, is sending out racist mailers to potential voters).

This Daily News story points out that Lawler, who is quick to paint Maloney and Democrats as soft on crime, actually oversaw cuts to police department budgets as an advisor to the Westchester County Executive’s office.

Other local races of note include:

NY Senate District 35: Elijah Reichlin-Melnick (D, incumbent) vs. Bill Weber (R)

NY Assembly District 96: Ken Zebrowski (D, incumbent) vs. Brett Yagel (R)\

NY Assembly District 97: Eudson Francois (D) vs. John McGowan (R)

NY Assembly District 98: Bruce Levine (D) vs. Karl Brabanec (R)

Here’s a good overview of where the New York gubernatorial candidates, Kathy Hochul (D) and Lee Zeldin (R) stand on the issues.

We’ll be posting election results on Tuesday night (and later in the week, if necessary). Stay tuned…

Quotes of the Week

“It is a contributing factor, and why wouldn’t we want to prevent it? Even if we saved one life by securing our border – that’s one life. That is a value, and that should be saved. To allow drugs to continue to pour across our southern border, I can’t imagine why somebody would think that is a good thing.”

17th Congressional District candidate Mike Lawler trying to clarify the long stretch in logic his campaign is doing in linking Democratic immigration policies to drug addiction in Rockland County

Video of the week: A last chance to get in your homework on the 17th district race

In other relevant news: Vote on Tue, Nov. 8!

Early voting ended Sunday and it’s too late to request an absentee ballot. The only way to vote now is in person on election day.

Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Polls will be open at your local poll site from 6 am to 9 pm.

Find out whether you’re registered and where you’re going to vote by clicking here.

Here’s a link to all of the candidates you will have the option of voting for.

Locally, in Rockland, we should be paying close attention to the following races:

  • The heated NY-17 congressional race to replace Mondaire Jones between Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney (formerly of the NY-18) and Republican Mike Lawler (who currently represent the state’s 97th assembly district, which includes part of Nyack). Keep scrolling below to watch a video of what I believe is their first live forum appearance together, hosted by the League of Women Voters last week. NY-17 is Rockland’s only congressional district and the House will be decided by only a handful of competitive races, including this one. (Homework for all Rocklandians: watch this forum!)
  • The 38th and 40th state senate districts
  • The 96th, 97th, 98th and 99th assembly districts
  • Several village and town trustee and council positions
  • A Ramapo town justice seat
  • Those are your most local offices, but don’t forget about state-wide races for governor and senate.

(Homework: figure out which senate and assembly district you live in and which candidates you have the option of voting for. Google them. Go to their websites and social media sites. Find out what they’re all about and how they will represent you.)

ICYM NNV’s weekly features: Bill Batson’s latest “Nyack Sketch Log”, Mike Hays’ most recent “Nyack People & Places”; and our coverage in last week’s “The Villages”. If you haven’t read it yet, please check our vision for the future of Nyack News & Views and how you can help build our coverage and capacity.

Weather prediction

Temperatures will drop into the 50s for election day (Tuesday), but warm back up into the 60s by Thursday (Veteran’s Day). Rain is in the forecast for this weekend. [Click here for the National Weather Service‘s latest 7-day forecast for the Nyack area.]

Covid Update

Severe Covid cases and hospitalizations in the greater Nyack area have risen slightly in recent days. Due to this increase, as of Oct. 24, the CDC is now classifying Rockland County as a “medium” Covid threat level. 

  • The county is reporting 2.33 gross hospitalization per 100,000 people (up from 2.02 on 10/11)
  • Hospital capacity, however, is not threatened.
  • A total of 30 people (last updated Oct. 24) in Rockland County are currently hospitalized for Covid related issues; 15 of those patients are symptomatic.
  • With four new departed souls recorded recently, Rockland’s Covid-related death total now sits at 1,220.
  • To find out what case and hospitalization trends look like in your town, click here.
  • Here’s the CDC’s data on Rockland.

Testing Info

  • More than 82.4% of eligible people in Rockland County are vaccinated with at least one dose. To schedule an appointment for a 1st dose, 3rd dose (for immunocompromised), or booster COVID-19 vaccine from any Rockland County Department of Health Clinic visit rocklandgov.com/departments/health/. To search for additional COVID-19 vaccination opportunities nearby visit vaccines.gov.
  • Find a COVID-19 testing site near you, by visiting coronavirus.health.ny.gov. Individuals who have questions regarding eligibility or access for testing should call the New York State COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-364-3065 or visit the NYSDOH website covid19screening.health.ny.gov.

Village updates

Nyack

  • Drop off humanitarian aid for victims of the war in Ukraine (, including first aid, painkillers, blankets, baby food, diapers, non-perishable food, antibiotics and more, at Village Hall, 9 N. Broadway (or at the Orangetown town hall, 26 W. Orangeburg Rd.).

Upper Nyack

South Nyack

  • Due to reader request, we have re-added South Nyack, which dissolved as an official village earlier this year. Please send us info about what’s going on in South Nyack at info@nyacknewsandviews.com.

Orangetown

Clarkstown

  • The Technical Advisory Committee, which “evaluates the technical adequacy of land development applications and decides their readiness for Planning Board review,” meets most Wednesdays, including this Wednesday, from 10 am to noon, in the town hall’s Historic Map Room.
  • For a calendar list of all Clarkstown meetings and events, click here.

Other Local Updates

South Nyack advocates have filed a petition with the town of Orangetown seeking to show support for a new Elizabeth Place Playground — the grassy play area and dog park just south of 87 and right off the Esposito trail. After South Nyack dissolved in March, the town found the playground equipment at Elizabeth Place was unsafe and not compliant with ADA regulations and removed it. A new ADA compliant park has been proposed and advocates want to see the proposal approved and implemented. Click here to read and/or sign the petition.

Nyack Schools

Rockland-wide

A rare polio case was recently discovered in Rockland County. Here’s some info on how to protect yourself:

  • New Yorkers can pre-register for a free polio vaccination appointment here or call 845-238-1956 to schedule. Walk-ins will also be accepted.
  • Vaccines are also available through local healthcare providers, including Federally Qualified Health Centers.
  • For more information on polio including symptoms and spread, visit NYSDOH’s page here.
  • New Yorkers can learn more about the polio vaccine available in the U.S. at CDC’s page here.
  • The Reviving Rockland Restaurants Grant Program will reimburse businesses between $5,000 and $25,000 for past expenses or fund future expenses for eligible outdoor dining COVID-19 mitigation equipment. Eligible entities include restaurants, food stands, food trucks, bars, saloons, lounges, taverns, bakeries, delis, cafes, breweries, wineries, and other similar places of business. For more information and to download an application visit rocklandgov.com.
  • Fill out this survey to help the county provide better digital services.

Connect with Nyack News and Views

Note to readers: We want to hear from you and welcome your input! What do you think we should be covering in your Rockland County village? Let us know at info@nyacknewsandviews.com. Send us story ideas, issues to investigate, letters, reviews, photos, videos, feedback and news tips. And read about our vision for delivering high-quality, hyper-local journalism and how you can help us fulfill our mission going forward.




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