On Tuesday, May 12, 2015 Councilman George Hoehmann announced his candidacy for Supervisor of the Town of
Clarkstown. He was joined by County Executive Ed Day, County Legislators Carey and Hofstein, Clarkstown Councilman Frank Borelli, County GOP Chairman Lawrence Garvey, Clarkstown Town Board candidate, John Noto who will be running against Councilwoman Shirley Lasker, and Candidate for Highways Superintendent, Frank DiZenzo.
Councilman Hoehmann began his remarks by thanking many of those who had stood by him in his career particularly his wife, children and siblings, the support he had received from his Rotarian and business colleagues, and in particular how much he missed the support of his mentor and friend, Bob Zeiss, who died on Christmas Day 2014. Hoehmann then proceeded to the announcement of his candidacy for Supervisor of the Town of Clarkstown saying:
I step forward today to announce that I am running for Supervisor of the Town of Clarkstown. I am running for a lot of different reasons and during the next five months we will have an opportunity to go through them in some detail. There is a danger when you make an announcement to talk about a litany of things. I just want to cover a couple of key points and talk first about what brings me here tonight.
I was born and raised in Clarkstown and I have spent the better part of my adult life working in the field of disabilities. For the past 4 years I have been the CEO of the Rockland Independent Living Center. For the past 21 years I have spent a lot of time advocating for the powerless and the people without a voice. Unfortunately I believe that is the situation we are facing today in Clarkstown largely in government within our county.
There are many people that I have come into contact over the years who are voicing the same concerns – the question of taxes and increasing debt. I can tell you that there are a lot of senior citizens that I have had lengthy conversations with who can’t afford to remain in Clarkstown. Our children, who have been born and raised here, can not afford to come back and establish a home.
So something is dramatically wrong when one’s tax bill is greater than one’s mortgage. That is what many of us are facing here within Rockland County and especially here within the Town of Clarkstown.
Unfortunately over the past number of years I have come face to face along with my colleague, Councilman Borelli, with an administration that has become tired and an administration that is willing to continue to allow high taxes and is unwilling to address these problems.
I am proud of the record that I have been able to achieve with my colleague Councilman Borelli. Over the past 6 years we have accomplished some great things. In 2011 over 3,500 people signed a petition and presented it to the Town Board and to the Supervisor demanding that Term Limits be put on the ballot for the voters to consider. You should go back and see the pictures and videos on Facebook and YouTube of our supervisor and his colleagues on the Town Board who knocked that down. Gromack and his colleagues ignored the voices of 3,500 people and would not even put the question on the ballot. It was despicable and very unfortunate. Fast forward, then what happened? I continued to advocate for this for years and finally in 2014 they relented and term limits was passed by unanimous vote. I remember in 2011 when people came forward and for years Supervisor Gromack and his colleagues on the Town Board shut it down.
That is the experience I have had for the past several years. I have fought and advocated for changes. Last year the supervisor presented a budget that raised taxes and what he was doing was selling out our seniors. He was trying to sell the only senior citizen complex that the town owned to take the money from that sale and put it into the Town’s reserve fund so he could continue deficit spending. It was a budget without significant cuts. I had enough and we worked diligently to propose an alternative budget that cut $1.8 million, protected our seniors by not selling the senior complex at Middlewood and we implemented mandatory overtime controls.
I have fought hard for consolidations. When David Carlucci, our former Town Clerk, was elected to the Senate for NY State we proposed that evening that we consolidate the Town Clerk’s office into the Receiver of Taxes office. Instead of replacing the Town Clerk I wanted to move the two offices together and eliminate a political job. That required a referendum to be put before the voters. You would have thought that would have been welcome news. Instead there was a move for another patronage job to award another Democratic worker and to have that person put into public office. Frank and I fought hard for consolidation and eventually we prevailed – we were able to get a referendum on the ballot that was adopted by the voters with over 3/4 of the voters approving it and we eliminated an entire office in the town saving over $500,000 per year. That was our initiative.
Unfortunately as you look at these initiatives and the victories we have had we have been stymied by a Supervisor who would rather stay with the status quo – a Supervisor that would rather implement budget gimmicks – a supervisor and a Town Board majority that is looking at only self-interest and not the interest of the people they serve.
Very unfortunately in Albany we saw another example of the Corridor of Corruption. We saw a leader who I had once respected, Dean Skelos, forced to resign. It seems in Albany we have had more individuals who have lost their seats through indictments than during an election. We live in a corrupt state in New York and unfortunately the corruption that pervades Albany also pervades here in Rockland County and frankly also in Clarkstown. We need better; the people deserve better. I know that during my time as an advocate and my time working for individuals with disabilities, they require a person with a voice. I am stepping forward today to provide that voice for the people of Clarkstown and the people of Rockland County.
I expect a vigorous campaign. I am going to wage it on the issues. I can not tell you that this will be an easy campaign. I need the support of everyone in this room and ten of your friends. I do expect this will be a very strong campaign. It’s really a campaign for the history books. You have to go back to the last time a sitting councilman challenged a sitting supervisor was when former Supervisor Holbrook ran against the supervisor of the time, Ted Dusanenko. That was almost 30 years ago.
My opponent, Supervisor Gromack, was first elected to office 33 years ago. He is a career politician. He is a nice man and a pleasant man to share a cup of coffee with but he is not someone who I trust to continue to run the Town of Clarkstown and he certainly is not someone who I think has the interest of the people of Clarkstown at heart. I think he has his own interest at heart.
I will tell you as I look at our record of accomplishment in the Town that there is so much more that we can do. Frank and I have proposed a Ward System for better representation here in the Town of Clarkstown. The majority on the town board is blocking that. I have proposed the consolidation of purchasing functions with the County of Rockland which is more that we can do to save the taxpayers’ money doing the types of things that have been done in other parts of the State. The Supervisor is blocking that.
For the past 4 – 5 years trying to bring cost savings and rein in spending and keep taxes low we proposed ideas but they have died in executive session and on the cutting room floor. The majority wants to block some very good ideas. They are satisfied with just being able to continue to remain in power. It is a difficult place to be at the end of a long public career but unfortunately what is taking place with the current administration and the current supervisor is that the new ideas are gone and the Supervisor is just looking for one more two year term — one last opportunity to be re-elected and not do the people’s business. If they were doing the people’s business they would allow more initiatives to be put on the ballot. If they were about doing the people’s business they would work with the County Executive on our proposal to consolidate purchasing functions. They are not working on these issues and because of these issues I am stepping forward.
This November for the first time in an entire generation the people of the Town of Clarkstown are going to win. They are going to win because for the first time they will have a choice in who they want to have as their Supervisor. The citizens are going to have that choice and as they are going into the voting booth they will be able to choose between a candidate that is talking about authentic changes or a candidate who will be talking about continuring more of the same.
Councilman Hoehmann closed his remarks by referring to the great American poem The Road Not Taken written by Robert Frost which reads:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Mr. Hoehmann said that he too was standing at a fork in the path for the Town of Clarkstown and had to make a decision – Should he go down the same old well trodden path or would he walk down the road ‘less traveled’?
Hoehmann said that Frost’s poem summarized the choice that the people of Clarkstown now have to make. Do they wish to go down an old and trodden path with Supervisor Gromack that has taken the town to the second highest property taxes in the United States where senior citizens were to be sold out to protect the Town’s reserve fund and its bond street rating, where the properety values of citizens living in the Town of Clarkstown would not be protected by implementation of a Ward System, where consolidation of purchasing functions with the County would not occur, and where systemic corruption would continue to grow as revealed by several arrests of individuals receiving compensation from the Town?
Or would the Town of Clarkstown turn to a new candidate and go down the road less traveled to a better future where there would be compassion shown for seniors; where there would be concern for property values and their protection with a Ward System; where there would be a supervisor who would act with fiscal responsibility for those who pay property taxes; and most importantly where there would be a Supervisor who would lead the Town Board with high ethical standards and provide the citizens of Clarkstown with an open, transparent and principled government?
Hoehmann concluded to thunderous applause that he hoped with the help of all of the good and principled people of Clarkstown he would Preserve, Reform and Renew Clarkstown as he stepped forward to offer a new direction of integrity to the citizens of Clarkstown.