Six Republican challengers running for the Westchester County Board of Legislators today condemned Democrats who voted for the housing settlement and called on them to back County Executive Rob Astorino in what he has said is an overreach by the federal government.
“The Democrat legislators who voted in favor of this housing settlement made a grave mistake,” said Michael Smith, a Republican candidate in District 3. “They invited Washington bureaucrats into Westchester communities with demands that threaten to bankrupt us and take away local control of zoning rights. Legislator Nonna and the entire caucus need to join the county executive in stopping this.”
HUD has rejected the county’s analysis of impediments document five times and called on Astorino to revise its analysis document, which is a road map of sorts on how to get the 750 units built in the 31 mostly white communities outlined in the agreement.
Among matters the two sides can’t agree on is having the county be tougher on local zoning laws that HUD believes are exclusionary and over Astorino’s rejection of a law that would bar landlords from discriminating against tenants based on their source of income, such as Section 8 federal rent subsidies.
Astorino, meanwhile, has accused HUD of overreaching and going beyond the requirements of the settlement, which would double the costs and dismantle local zoning laws.
All parties have called on the federal monitor, James Johnson, to mediate.
The county board today had a meeting, calling for more unity as a government.
Here is a segment of the press release sent out today by the Republican candidates:
Peter Michaelis, candidate for District 2, said, “In 2009, Majority Leader Pete Harckham voted in lockstep with the Democrats on the board to accept the housing settlement—even though just days before he had visited local town boards warning of its many pitfalls. It is time that Pete Harckham stand up for Westchester taxpayers and right this wrong. He should disavow the bad deal he made and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Rob Astorino to defend his constituents against an overreaching federal government.”
“The Affordable Housing Settlement is the largest lawsuit in the history of Westchester County,” Dr. Terrence Murphy, candidate for the 4th district said.”As the highest taxed county in the nation, we can no longer settle for politics as usual. Legislator Kaplowitz’s vote in favor of the settlement was a slap in the face to the middle class taxpayers. I applaud County Executive Astorino’s courageous actions to protect the basic rights of Westchester’s residents by standing up to the continued expansion of government both on the federal and county level.”
District 9 candidate Susan Konig, who serves on the county’s planning board, called the settlement disastrous for local communities. “New York is a home rule state that protects the zoning rights of local municipalities. It’s outrageous that our own legislators voted in favor of an agreement that threatens property rights and local control of our communities. The voters need to hold them accountable in November.”
Iris Pagan, candidate in District 5 said, “For the past two months, the Democratic Majority has remained silent while HUD has made illegal and unreasonable requests that were not included in the terms of the settlement. They can’t take back their vote, but they must denounce HUD’s actions and fight for the interests of Westchester’s taxpayers.”
Suzanna Keith lamented the agreement as an attempt to socially engineer communities, while essential government services suffer. “Judy Myers voted in favor of spending $51 million in taxpayer subsidized housing units, when that money could have gone toward addressing flood mitigation for the Sound Shore communities she purports to represent,” Keith said. “We need to be realistic about the core duty of government and how we spend precious taxpayer dollars.”
The candidates acknowledged that they can’t turn back the clock and concurred that if elected, they will work cooperatively with the County Executive to implement the specified terms of the settlement. All the challengers said had they been in office in 2009 they would have voted against the settlement and sought a more favorable agreement that does not leave the county at the mercy of Washington bureaucrats.