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ENDORSEMENT: KARL BRABENEC OVER ARON WIEDER IN NEW YORK’S 98TH

By JIMMY THE SAINT

Aron Wieder has a substantial history with the East Ramapo School Board. He was elected to the board in 2008, became its vice-president, and then its president. He touts accomplishments such as raising funds to support the marching band and introducing a proposal that established a full day kindergarten program.

A resident of Spring Valley, Wieder was elected to represent that city in the county legislature in 2011. According to his Rockland County website page, “as a legislator, he fought for fiscal responsibility to resolve Rockland’s deficit, and relief for unfunded state mandates to reduce property taxes for Rockland County residents. He also supported legislation that improved the environment and advocated for social justice.” It’s unclear if the “fighting” has rendered any substantive results.

Currently, as the majority leader, Wieder is the third highest ranking legislator in Rockland County. He should stay there.

Karl Brabenec has battled in a series of tough elections to earn his seat in the state assembly. In 2014, he defeated a formidable opponent, Dan Castricone (a former Orange County legislator), in the Republican primary. Castricone, with the support of the growing grassroots organization United Monroe, took that third party line into the general election. In a three-way contest, Brabenec ultimately defeated Democrat Elisa Tutina – by just 37 votes.

This time around Brabenec’s general election travails should be easier as, after he bested United Monroe hopeful John Allegro in the 2016 Republican primary, the latter candidate determined to forego a November bid. This renders just a two-person race: Wieder versus Brabenec.

In 2014, Castricone netted nearly 10,000 votes. Most of these United Monroe votes should deservedly go to Brabenec.

Although the United Monroe leadership has criticized Brabenec for not fully supporting their causes, the freshman assemblyman has repeatedly – and publicly – asserted his backing. United Monroe, and many other residents of the Village of Monroe, the Village of Harriman and other nearby towns have been in longstanding combat with the neighboring Village of Kiryas Joel, a community comprised of literally 99.9+% Hasidic Jewish people. The most heated of matters surrounds the annexation of land.

The Kiryas Joel/United Monroe skirmish is complicated. It is wrought with legal entanglements and constitutional conflicts. Courts, lawyers and scholars of law have difficulty in determining the outcomes of the cases related to this melee.

Wieder, a Hasidic Jew, no doubt will win the Kiryas Joel vote, which comes in historic blocs (usually almost 100% of the voting residents cast ballots – or no ballots at all). Wieder will also garner another Hasidic bloc vote from Rockland County. This voting phenomenon should not be the reason why non-Hasidic 98th District residents should vote against Wieder; similarly, Wieder’s religious background should not be the basis of casting ballots against him.

Wieder is an intelligent, friendly, and outspoken politician. However, he is short on solid ideas. And his tenure with the East Ramapo School Board was wrought with problems. He far too often perpetuated, if not led, the will of the private school community associated with the district, at the expense of the balance of the district (which balance comprises the vast majority of the students). Under Wieder’s watch, over $2 million dollars of text books lent to the private school community were somehow lost, there were two problematic school closures, and his board retained an unnecessary, over-priced law firm that created far more damage than benefit to the district.

Wieder doesn’t offer solutions to the broader issues facing his district’s constituents. Brabenec does.

As a state assemblyman, Brabenec actually co-sponsored legislation that afforded monitor oversight for the East Ramapo School District, something it surely needs. This same bill added $3 million in extra aid. He voted to reduce taxes 27 times (totaling $5.7 billion) and has come up with novel plans to reduce the plight of homeowners by limiting the use of property taxes to fund education. A professor of political science at Orange County Community College, Brabenec also previously served as the Deerpark Town Supervisor, where he cut taxes in consecutive years and reduced spending by one million dollars.

Voters in New York’s 98th State Assembly District should re-elect Karl Brabenec.

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