Though Spring Valley mayoral candidate Bernard Charles has not seen much action in the public arena as an elected official, his few actions have come under significant scrutiny.
During his unusually brief tenure with the Town of Ramapo Planning Board, Charles voted on only one resolution, approving the Patrick Farm development provided it survives current court challenges and receives the necessary approvals. The vote elicited strong criticism from the development’s opponents and left many wondering exactly where his allegiances lie. Two weeks after the vote, he abruptly resigned from his position, citing a conflict in his schedule.
In addition, Charles was criticized for skipping an NAACP school board forum in Spring Valley to campaign at an event at Boulder Stadium in Pomona organized to warn Orthodox Jewish men and boys of the dangers of the Internet. For Charles, who relies on black and Latino constituents often at odds with the Orthodox community over schools, this could be an even more explicit and significant liability.
The Patrick Farm development has been the center of controversy in the town due to the widespread belief that the developer, Yechiel Lebovits, would aim to fill the site’s proposed multifamily units with ultra-orthodox Jews. Critics consider the new development evidence of a willingness to further destabilize East Ramapo’s troubled school district, which must provide expensive transportation and special education for predominantly Orthodox private schools and has been a target for years by activists who believe its Orthodox Jewish majority have unfairly apportioned public money to private yeshivas.