This November 3rd we have a chance to break the homogeneity that has compromised New Rochelle's prosperity over the past decade. Of the six districts in New Rochelle, three are being contested. While all three districts, plus the contested Mayoral race, are critical to our shared future, districts five and six are of significant importance because they provide a real opportunity to foster a better future for all of New Rochelle.
In district five, challenger Jeffrey Hastie is an independent running on the Independence, Republican, and Reform lines against the incumbent Barry Fertel, Democrat. I myself am registered as a Democrat but I wholeheartedly support Jeffrey in this race. I've lived in New Rochelle for more than twelve years, and have seen the city slowly deteriorate before my eyes. District Five has essentially had no representation for the past ten years that Barry Fertel has been in office. Councilman Fertel is essentially the Mayor's puppet; a rubber stamp with legs. In ten years, he’s voted against the mayor on only two occasions, leaf pickup and Echo Bay. With the swing vote already cast against Echo Bay, Barry’s "no" vote was irrelevant when cast (he changed his vote after the deciding swing vote had been cast). So, that really comes down to one vote in ten years. With roughly 200 votes per year, that's only one independent vote in two thousand-- 1 in 2,000! Hard to believe that any two people could agree on so many things for so long a time. While in office, Fertel has voted to shift municipal costs to residents time and again: Garbage pickup is now a separate fee; leaves are no longer picked up by the city; fire hydrants have been eliminated from the city budget and now being paid by residents directly through their water bill. These tricks aren’t lost on the citizens of New Rochelle. The “low” taxes touted by our current administration is a result of cost shifting; a slight of the puppeteer's hand. We must do better. Jeffrey will do better.
During his six years on the school board, Jeffrey has shown his independence and willingness to ask tough questions. He’s been the sole vote against wasteful budgets. In addition, he’s fought to make the school board open and transparent. Since he’s been on the board, the meetings have either been broadcast live or taped and aired at a later date. Social media has been embraced. He’s been responsive to any parent or taxpayer who’s reached out to him. He will work just as hard for District Five as he has as a school board trustee.
In District Six, Shari Rackman has faithfully served her residents and deserves to be re-elected. Endorsements from local police and firefighters attest to her staunch support towards public safety issues. Rackman's dedication and hard work has resulted in quality of life improvements throughout our district and the city, including re-paved roads, repaired sidewalks, and better lighting. After losing the democratic primary to the political machine, who devoted significant money and resources against her as retribution for her vote on Echo Bay (she was the decisive swing vote), Councilwoman Rackman will be running on the Republican and Reform lines come election day. While New Rochelle is a heavily Democratic city, Rackman hopes that voters realized that, "there is no Democratic or Republican way to best pick up the leaves, collect the garbage, repair potholes, or continue to provide the essential services that the residents of New Rochelle all rely on." So true. Nevertheless, due to her allegiance to her constituents on Echo Bay (and defiance of Mayor Bramson), she will be a Democrat running on the Republican line. Despite the political forces that are conspiring against her, Rackman stands by her vote on Echo Bay, and hopes that the City Council will pursue only smart development that aligns with the city's needs--without the need for additional tax hikes to fund it. With some significant development projects being considered for downtown New Rochelle, we are all best served if Shari's good sense and convictions remain on the council.
Government is best served by a diversity of thought. Let’s embrace this opportunity for a better future. Lets make sure that the diversity of voices on our city council represent the wonderful diversity of people who call New Rochelle home. Vote for Jeffrey Hastie in District Five and Shari Rackman in District Six. New Rochelle can't afford ten more years of the same old puppet show.