By Kathy Kahn
Most people in New York’s 98th Assembly District, which covers Sloatsburg, Montebello, Tallman and parts of East Ramapo, have never heard of John Allegro—at least not yet.
Allegro, who has never run for public office, has decided to throw his hat in the ring for the spot currently occupied by one-term incumbent Karl Brabenec, first elected in 2014.
A sales and marketing professional, Allegro has been very much in the mix of things in the southern part of Orange County, where an unpopular annexation in the town of Monroe is working its way through the court system.
While it may upset some Hasidic residents who see anyone against the annexation of 514 acres of the town’s property into Kiryas Joel as anti-Semitic, there are many others within the Satmar community who share the same feelings as Allegro, a member of United Monroe and a founding member of Preserve Hudson Valley.
“Not everyone wants to live in an urban setting,” said Allegro. “Many love having a real home with a lawn, which people moved here for, not a townhouse,” said Allegro. “They also want a better life for themselves and their children, just as we do.”
United Monroe was not born out of angst against the village of Kiryas Joel. It began as a result of the purchase of a foreclosed movie theatre by the current supervisor, Harley Doles, for $800,000.
From that protest, the United Monroe movement sprouted and is firmly entrenched. The upshot of the brouhaha over the theatre has helped to create a “bloc” vote in Monroe which is now bigger than the “bloc” vote in Kiryas Joel, according to Allegro and borne out by the election of two of its candidates for council seats. Many in Kiryas Joel support United Monroe’s efforts and have shown it with their votes.
Allegro sees the 98th Assembly district, which includes parts of southern Orange and the northern edge of Rockland- all of Sloatsburg, Montebello, Tallman and a portion of East Ramapo– as a landscape that is changing and needs to be changed thoughtfully, not haphazardly. Change is inevitable, said Allegro, but the many thousands of residents flocking to the mid-Hudson enjoy the suburban quality it offers, one many Kiryas Joel residents are beginning to realize they are not excluded from.
“After considering what might happen to the Monroe-Woodbury School District and the failure to help the children in the East Ramapo School District, I jumped in the race. All I want to be a strong advocate for all the people,” said Allegro. He was “disappointed” incumbent Brabenec has failed to recognize the strength of Monroe’s own “bloc” vote, which Allegro said is supported by the Kiryas Joel Alliance and is now larger than the “bloc” vote Kiryas Joel enjoyed for many years.
“The days of operating under the guise of darkness must be over,” said Allegro. “I may have upset the apple cart by getting into the race; some people think I should have jumped in sooner. I have not been endorsed by anyone but the people who know I will work for them and with them, and now I’ll be getting out to meet as many of the constituents of the 98th district as I can before primary day, which is Tuesday, September 13.”
One item on Allegro’s list is to see if legislation can get through the NYS Legislature to make all elections on the 2nd Tuesday of November. “It will really help eliminate the confusion and the low voter turnout. Many towns and villages have already adopted this practice, and I’d like to see it happen everywhere…it is much more efficient and effective for voters.”