The 2017 Rockland County political battleground is far removed from what it was at the beginning of the decade.
The 2013 election season saw the election of County Executive Ed Day and the subsequent replacement of the Rockland GOP establishment. The Rockland Democratic Party has also been forced to change, often in spite of itself. The new GOP has made electoral inroads into Democratic territory despite being at a disadvantage in party registrations.
The Rockland political class of the latter 20th century and early 21st century grew accustomed to trading patronage jobs and making deals with voting blocs. It was the norm. With the arrival of tougher economic times, the county and local governments eventually came under scrutinty and Rocklanders became upset at their high taxes and clear government waste.
Many observers counted Rockland voters out. ‘They’re too apathetic, too divided, there will never be a change,’ many supposed sages said. In truth the people of the county were ready for a good old fashioned American revolt.
Corruption in the Town of Ramapo threatened to spill over its invisible walls and gobble up the entire county. As Ramapo’s supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence faced a certain fall from grace, there was still no shortage of know-it-alls saying things would remain the same forever.
Legislator Ilan Schoenberger (D-New Square) could win the county executive seat political types believed. What rubbish it proved to be.
The voters had had it and Ed Day rode an insurgent reform movement to a convincing victory, running on the Republican and independent Preserve Rockland lines.
Day has since held strong to his promise to control county spending. The county’s once unthinkable $138 million deficit has shrunk by 90 percent. Day has cut spending quite a bit and kept taxes stable even as the county made payments on a $96 million deficit bond needed to attack the deficit. Multiple credit rating increases have been recorded during his tenure.
Day’s budgetary skills and ability to streamline government services are impressive. His name has been bandied about as a potential gubernatorial candidate because of his Republican Party’s success in Democratic-majority Rockland the past four years.
Day has done well, but more could have been done if he had not faced needless resistance from some county legislators. The decision of Ramapo Democrats to block the sale of the Sain Building has been frustrating, for example.
Regardless, even the Democrats recognize his success, declining to run an active party member against him. Clearly, the choice in the county executive race is Ed Day. Day’s opponent Maureen Porette has been vilified by many Day supporters, but the truth is someone had to play the role of “opponent,” so there is little reason to hold a grudge against her.
The Rockland County Times also endorses the “Ed Day movement,” however one interprets that phenomena in their own locality.
It is no secret Day has coalesced resistance to the “Ramapo bloc vote,” a term alluding to sects with near 100 percent voter turnout who seemingly vote in unison at the command of community leadership. Many members of these communities decry Day’s approach, but without political resistance to Ramapo, the leaders and profiteers from bloc communities would almost certainly dominate and corrupt the entire county.
Hopefully in coming years and decades a nice middle is reached and our socio-political landscape becomes settled. It is possible that a politician like Bill Weber, Republican candidate for supervisor of Ramapo, could help Ramapo integrate into Rockland and Rockland understand some of Ramapo’s ways.
The Rockland County Times also endorses Bill Weber for supervisor because at least he offers some hope of an improved paradigm.
Until peacemakers are elected consistently in the Town of Ramapo, it is likely that the rest of the county will unify against the bloc influence for years to come for fear of becoming “the next Ramapo.”