Campaigns tend to over-simplify complex issues, and that can be a disservice to the quality of public discussion about our future. So before we head to the polls on Tuesday, I want to take this opportunity to offer a more complete and thoughtful discussion about New Rochelle’s opportunities and challenges. Please consider this my closing argument. I hope you find my comments persuasive, and encourage you to share this letter with friends.
Since the first day I took the oath to serve as Mayor, I have worked my hardest to move our city forward. As we approach an important election on Tuesday, November 5, I am writing to share a few thoughts about how far we’ve come and about the work still left to do – and to ask for your vote.
In my view, New Rochelle has made significant progress in recent years, and now has brighter prospects than at any previous moment in our modern history. Here are just a few of many examples:
Our downtown is attracting investment at a record pace, as we build a city center that is economically, culturally, and socially vibrant, and that generates significant new revenue for both the City and School District. Now we must finish the job, balancing preservation and change in a fashion that benefits all of us.
Our environment is improving, with a focus on water quality, urban forestry, open space enhancement, and renewable energy. Now we must build on this foundation with enhanced attention to local ecology, improved recycling, and more sustainable transportation options.
Our roads and infrastructure are benefiting from the largest capital investment in generations, steadily strengthening neighborhoods throughout New Rochelle. Now we must fully execute our 10-year capital plan in order to enhance our quality of life and support property values.
Our crime rate is at a 60-year low, a tribute to strong Police-community relations. Now we must do more to advocate for common-sense gun safety measures and provide positive support for at-risk youth.
Our municipal finances are sound, with a healthy bond rating, robust fund balance, and one of the lowest municipal tax rates among Westchester’s cities. Now we must continue the process of modernizing government to deliver the best value to taxpayers.
As we build a more prosperous community, we are also firmly committed to equity and inclusion, supported by new affordable housing, skill and career development, and innovative programs like My Brother’s Keeper.
Growing up, I remember when New Rochelle was seen as a city that couldn’t get out of its own way. Today, by contrast, New Rochelle is widely regarded as a model for others, as evidenced by our success in winning New York State’s highly-competitive Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) and the nation-wide Bloomberg Mayor’s Challenge.
None of this has come easily. Governing a city of 80,000 requires hard work. The Mayor’s job is not ceremonial or part-time, but rather one that demands a relentless determination to knock down barriers and seize opportunities. A Mayor who lacks this commitment – or who fails to grasp the issues and responsibilities at stake – puts all of our hard-won progress at risk. I have always strived to:
Be responsive and accessible – hosting neighborhood forums, appearing before countless community events, sharing information, and addressing day-to-day concerns.
Represent New Rochelle effectively to the larger world to inspire confidence among potential stakeholders and nurture mutually supportive relationships with other levels of government.
Build trust and civility among colleagues, while setting clear priorities for our professional staff, so that our local government pursues a coherent vision.
Bring our community together by affirming our shared interests and by tackling difficult and controversial issues with integrity, respect, and a passionate commitment to doing what’s right.
Finally, at a time when many of us are deeply concerned about the tone and direction of our national government, I have felt it important to stand up locally for values that are fundamental to New Rochelle’s spirit and identity: the dignity and humanity of immigrants, civil rights and civil liberties, the urgent challenge of climate change, and fundamental adherence to the rule of law. The flame of these principles must be protected in communities like ours, until it can be rekindled across our country.
Of course, there is much more to be done. The purpose of elected office is not simply to hold office – it’s to accomplish things, and that challenge never ends. I hope that my skills, perspective, and experience will remain valuable assets to New Rochelle’s continued progress.
To conclude on a personal note, I am fiercely loyal to New Rochelle and passionate about making it an even better place to live. This is where I grew up and went to school. This is where Catie and I chose to settle and raise our own children. And this is where I hope one day to retire. I love our community in all of its remarkable diversity, and I want to do everything possible to ensure that New Rochelle thrives in the years to come.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, for making New Rochelle your home, and for participating in the choices that will shape our future. You can learn more about the issues at stake in this election by visiting my website at www.noambramson.org. And I would be greatly honored to have your support on Tuesday, November 5.