BY CAROL MCILMURRAY
Montebello resident William Weber is running to fill a seat on the Ramapo Town Council vacated by disgraced Councilman Samuel “Shmuel” Tress.
Weber, 47, is a certified public accountant and chief financial officer, as well as a longtime member of the Ramapo GOP Committee. He is running on the Republican and Reform lines. He faces the task of overcoming Supervisor Chris St. Lawrence’s political machine, which banks on the uniformity and massive turnout of the so-called “bloc vote,” those amongst the town’s fast-growing religious Jewish community who vote as they are instructed by their leaders.
Weber said he wants to bring accountability and transparency to the Town of Ramapo. He has already used his skills to issue several reports on fiscal issues in Ramapo, some published in the Rockland County Times.
“For a number of years, I have been actively engaged in research and analysis, highlighting the fiscal condition of the Town of Ramapo,” Weber said. “Examining this information increased my concern regarding the financial decisions made by the town government. In attending numerous Town Council meetings it became apparent to me that the town’s fiscal health was hanging by a thread. “
Weber proclaimed, “I am confident that I have the expertise and integrity sorely needed to address the town’s fiscal challenges in an honest and transparent manner.”
Last year Weber ran against Tress for the same seat and received over 11,000 votes to Tress’ 13,598. Only months after assuming office Tress was arrested and prosecuted for voting on a land deal that benefitted him while he previously served as a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, forcing his resignation from politics.
Between Tress’ proven malfeasance and St. Lawrence facing federal prosecution on 22 counts of bad bond deals and wire fraud, Weber expects a higher turn out of voters to be cast in his favor. “This election provides an opportunity for voters to turn a new page in Ramapo government. The importance of having an independent voice on the board, with no ties to the current administration, cannot be overstated,” he said.
When asked about potentially working with FBI-indicted St. Lawrence, Weber replied, “Every board has its own unique challenges…There will be times where we agree, and times where we don’t. However, with the best interests of the town and all its residents in mind, I believe that I can provide the independent thinking and financial acumen that can benefit all.“
Johnathan Turco, Suffern, says he plans on voting for Weber. “I am raising my kids here and I want to be able to stay here, I am 100 percent voting for Bill Weber.”
This year’s hotly contested race for president between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is expected to draw more voters to the polls than last year, which may benefit Weber as the “bloc vote” lined up against him enjoys high turnout regardless of presidential politics.
Weber’s opponent Michael Rossman (D) is a political newcomer put up for the position by St. Lawrence and Ramapo Democratic Chair Mona Montal. The Ramapo Democratic Committee held the nominating convention for the council position with little warning on a Sunday morning, causing considerable outrage amongst churchgoers and many others in the Democratic Party.
The winner of the special election for the council seat will hold the position for the remaining three years of Tress’ term.
NOTE – An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated another election would be held in 2017 for the final two years of the term. The term for the winner of this November’s special election runs through 2019.