To: Editor Of Rockland Voice
From: Clarkstown Councilman Frank Borelli
I am a strong believer that the implementation of a Ward system is vital to preserving the diverse suburban character of the Town of Clarkstown. Safeguarding our Town from over-development and creating checks and balances to the political power of any one group are two primary objectives of the Ward system which Councilman Hoehmann and I have proposed. We fought hard to have this proposition put on the ballot in November, as we believe the citizens of Clarkstown deserve to be the ones to make this critical decision.
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the monthly meeting of the Heritage of West Nyack group, where I was invited along with my colleagues on the Town Board to discuss and explain the Ward system. We gave an overview of the proposal which will change the way you elect your council members and will help to ensure equitable and accountable representation for the people of Clarkstown, both now and in the future.
I was disappointed by the reasoning behind the strong opposition to the Ward system voiced by Supervisor Alex Gromack and Councilwoman Shirley Lasker, both of whom stated that such a system will make it easier for a bloc vote to take over the Town of Clarkstown.
While this is a somewhat understandable initial reaction to the idea of a Ward system, research clearly shows the opposite to be true. In the coming weeks, George and I will continue to advocate for a Ward system, which will make it more difficult for any single sector of the population to exert unchecked political influence over others. That Mr. Gromack and Ms. Lasker fail to see this suggests they haven’t done their due diligence on the most important decision the town faces.
The best example of a need for a Ward system can be found right next door in the Town of Ramapo, where a vote was recently held on that subject. The voters in the predominately Hasidim–populated areas of town voted ‘NO’ to the Ward proposition 98% of the time! The leaders and voters in insular communities such as Kaser and New Square are adamantly opposed to the Ward system for good reason; they know it will diminish the unchecked town-wide influence they currently have in Ramapo. Of course they want no part of a Ward system.
Preserve Ramapo, a group that has been fighting valiantly against the bloc vote in Ramapo and the unfair influence a minority of the population is able to have over decisions being made by the political leaders in their Town, strongly supports a Ward system. They believe a Ward system is a barrier to the development of an imbalance of power. George Hoehmann and I stand with them. Alex Gromack and Shirley Lasker do not.
The Clarkstown Preservation Society is also a strong supporter of the Ward system and is urging a YES vote on November 3rd. We are also in agreement with them in that increasing the number of Board members from four to six will provide even better protection and more direct representation in Town government. They believe a Ward system of government will best protect the future of Clarkstown and make it HARDER for any one group to impose its will on others.
I’m not sure why Alex Gromack and Shirley Lasker continue to push their illogical arguments against safeguarding the future of our town. If 98% of the “bloc” voted ‘No’ to a Ward system for Ramapo, and the two grassroots groups that are actively working to reverse and prevent this type of unfair influence are urging a ‘YES’ vote, how can one come to any conclusion other than that the Town of Clarkstown needs to make this change and the citizens need to vote YES for the ward system this November, before we end up like Ramapo.