A terrific piece about the dynamics and personalities of the U.S. Congress in this week’s New York Times magazine, as seen primarily through the eyes of new Representatives Abigail Spanberger and Ayanna Pressley. Individual Congresspeople are often enormously impressive and admirable, genuinely striving to do good work, even as service within the institution as a whole seems like an increasingly miserable experience. The article does a remarkable job of capturing these cross-currents. Really a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the present moment in our politics. (Full disclosure: the article’s author, Susan Dominus, is a good friend. Not that I am biased or anything.)
Thank you to the people of New Rochelle for electing me to another term as mayor. Looks like the final tally will run to about 63% of the vote — a big victory amid high turnout, and a deeply gratifying validation of our shared accomplishments, vision, and values. I will continue doing everything in my power to justify the confidence of our community.
At the same time, I am mindful that a sizable minority of New Rochelle residents voted to move in a different direction. I hear their voices, too, and will strive to bring our city together around a positive future from which all of us can benefit.
Congratulations to the other election winners. I am especially pleased to welcome newcomers Martha Lopez and Sara Kaye to the City Council, both of whom won by overwhelming margins. They join Yadira Ramos-Herbert, another outstanding newcomer who was, in effect, elected in the primary back in June, plus returning Council Members Ivar Hyden, Liz Fried, and Al Tarantino, forming an expanded 6-1 Democratic majority. (Also, for the first time in twenty-five years and only the second time in history, a majority of City Council members will be women.) In County Legislative contests, Damon Maher, Terry Clements, and Catherine Parker were all deservedly returned to office. Here are the final, unofficial results.
Let me also acknowledge Brendan Conroy and Sarah Langlois for their strong campaigns and thank my colleague Lou Trangucci for his years of service on the City Council. Until you have run for office, it is difficult to understand just how difficult and personally grueling a process it is; all the candidates should be applauded for their willingness to put themselves forward.
Finally, Catie and I offer our heartfelt gratitude to the countless friends and neighbors who stood with us in recent months, contributing time, energy, money, labor, wisdom, and faith. It is profoundly humbling to be at the center of a team effort to which so many people have given so much, far beyond any reasonable claim or expectation.
My happiness this morning is blended with exhaustion, and I am looking forward to some down time with my family. But not too much! Still lots of works to do this year, and then a new term starting January filled with exciting possibilities and bright prospects. This is the most promising moment in New Rochelle’s modern history — let’s make the most of it.
Election Day is finally here, and the polls have just opened. All indications point to a close race, so let’s not take anything for granted. Please vote! And please urge your family and friends to turnout, as well.
Then, tonight, after the polls close at 9:00pm, you are invited to join me and my running mates for a Victory Celebration at Alvin & Friends Restaurant at 14 Memorial Highway in downtown New Rochelle.
This is a big election that will define New Rochelle’s values and aspirations for years to come, so let’s all show up to be counted.
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.
For the first time this year, New Yorkers have the option of voting early. It’s a good way to avoid scheduling conflicts that might crop up on Election Day, steer clear of lines, and make sure your vote is banked away. I just cast my own ballot at New Rochelle’s early voting station, located at 90 Beaufort Place, right behind City Hall.
Early voting continues every day through Sunday, November 3rd. You can find early voting hours at www.voteearlyny.org.
Whether you vote early or at your regular polling place on Election Day, please be sure to make your voice count!