“New Direction” Candidates Issue Statement on 2017 Ramapo Campaign

BY BILL WEBER, 2017 candidate, Town of Ramapo supervisor

SHANI BECHHOFER & GRANT VALENTINE, 2017 candidates, Town of Ramapo Council

Our campaign gave voice to many thousands of people who want to live in a different kind of Ramapo. A fiscally healthy, economically viable, well-governed Ramapo. A Ramapo in which people talk to each other, rather than groups talking at each other. People want to live in a town where laws are just and just laws are enforced; where residents have access to excellent education, great employment opportunities, and residences and institutions that fit their lifestyle, whatever it may be. This is the vision we shared and it resonated throughout the diverse neighborhoods of our town.

In order to get to this kind of Ramapo, we need a government different than the one we have now. We need government that genuinely represents its residents, not a small group of powerful special interests, particularly some of those who develop land and properties. In order to have our town led by people who are competent and ethical, voters must demand a different kind of political campaigning. This must be campaigning free of manipulation by wedge issues, fear mongering, dog-whistling, and out and out fabrications. Substantive arguments for credible policy solutions concerning the complex issues facing our town must be the primary focus.

We are proud we ran a clean, substantive and respectful campaign. We challenged the assumptions of how politics has to be conducted in Ramapo, and we were supported in that effort by hundreds of donors and dozens of volunteers. People now know they have a choice and a voice, should they choose to use it. We are disappointed that we did not win this election, but our campaign achieved important victories and we have all learned important lessons. We have formed and fostered incredible bonds within and across communities in Ramapo. We have made inroads in surprising places and found partnerships in unlikely corners.

We scared the opposition so much more than we thought we could, and forced them to fight for their political lives. They fought low and dirty for all to see, blocking our ads, stealing our signs, intimidating our volunteers, harassing and threatening those with the courage to speak out against them, but we understand now more than ever that no group in Ramapo is monolithic.

Turning a town like Ramapo in a new direction takes some time. We must be prepared for a marathon, not a sprint. We have laid the groundwork and we will be persistent.

[Statement edited for space]