To: Editor Rockland Voice
From: Legislator Lon Hofstein
The Town of Clarkstown is experiencing a rapid increase in the diversity of its population. Over the time period of 2000 to 2010, the town’s diversity index rose from 40 to 51. These changing dynamics in our population should now be reflected by a change in our system of town government representation.
A Ward system of government is best suited to ensure fair and equitable representation for all as the town continues to become even more diverse. The safeguards a Ward system provides will allow the people of Clarkstown to embrace the increasing diversity of its changing population while maintaining its close knit hometown personality. By better ensuring ALL citizens will have a voice in government, tolerance and harmony between ALL is easier to achieve.
This November, the citizens of Clarkstown have the opportunity to revitalize the structure of their town government. The Ward system redistricting proposal also calls for two additional members on the town council. If your first reaction is that bigger government will cost the taxpayers more money, rest assured this is not the case. The proposal takes the overall town council salary payout into consideration and addresses that issue by reducing the annual compensation of all members of the Town Council. Even with two new members, the overall salary payout by the town remains the same.
A Ward system will bring government representation closer to the citizens. Your elected council member will focus on the issues related to your geographical area while still maintaining a responsibility to the greater good of the town.
Increasing the number of town council members will facilitate a broader discussion of issues and bring in new ideas. A broader group of localized town council members will result in better representation for our citizens.
While there are people who would like you to believe that the ‘Ward System’ is a process in which to “BLOC” growth and harmony, I see it as a vision to encourage growth and harmony. In our neighboring Town of Ramapo, the problems stem primarily from one group dominating the outcomes of town-wide elections. The other groups feel as if they have no voice. A Ward system there would improve relations between diverse segments of the town by ensuring that ALL people have a voice in government.
The ultimate goal is to preserve Clarkstown’s hometown culture, quality educational system, historical landmarks and beautiful landscape, while recognizing the need for changes in government to ensure fair representation for all in light of the town’s increasingly diverse population.
Town Councilmen Hoehmann & Borelli have spent a great deal of time and effort to get this proposal on the ballot this November so that the people of Clarkstown can make this decision.
I encourage you to become informed on this topic. I urge you to embrace the increasing diversity of our town and to implement a new system of government that better ensures EVERYONE has a voice in town government.
Please vote YES for the Ward System.