Town Supervisor Alex Gromack is running against challenger Brian Moran in the
Tuesday, Nov. 5th General Election. Gromack is running on the Democratic,
Working Families, Independence and Conservative lines. Moran has the Preserve
Rockland/Clarkstown line. There is no Republican candidate.
Patch sent questionnaires to each candidate, who provided the following responses.
1. Why did you decide to run for election?
I want to continue to work on maintaining all of my accomplishments over the last 9 years, keeping Clarkstown one of the safest towns in the nation and one of the best places to live. I want to continue to improve our infrastructure: roads, sewers, downtowns and expanding recreational opportunities for residents.
The reason I decided to run for election is fairly simple. I have been living in Clarkstown for almost 40 years. My parents still live in the house I grew up in. My 2 sisters and 2 brothers and all my 16 nieces and nephews, as well as most of my aunts and uncles and cousins all live within five miles, and in Clarkstown. I now have a family of my own, my wife, and 2 beautiful daughters ages 3 and 5 and we live in New City.
About 6 months ago, for the first time in my life, my wife and I were talking about moving out of Clarkstown, for a number of reasons, which I will touch on later. After much talk and deliberation, we decided we would stick it out for a bit. Then on, or around May 17th of this year I went to hear Ed Day speak in Congers at a meeting for the Preservation of Rockland. I immediately felt like he was talking to me. He voiced many of the same concerns my wife and I had for our family as well as our future in a town we loved living in.
A few weeks later I was asked if I would be interested in running for Clarkstown Supervisor on the Preserve Rockland Line. Again after discussing it with my family, I said yes. I said yes because I felt I could make a difference, I felt that maybe I could be a voice for all the other worried and concerned families that are trying to stay in the town they love as much as I. Families of people I grew up with in this town and now have their own families, just want the opportunity to live in the town where we grew up. I really believe we are voices that need to be heard. That in a nutshell is why I am running for Town Supervisor of Clarkstown.
2. What personal or professional experiences qualify you to serve as town supervisor? Have you run or held elected office previously?
I was first elected to the Rockland County Legislature in 1983 and re-elected in 1987. I served on the Legislature for seven years rising to leadership positions as vice chair of the Legislature, Majority Leader, and chair of the Ways and Means Committee.
In addition to co-sponsoring a bill that returned a $40 million county property tax surplus to residents, I authored the Rockland County Home Improvement Licensing Law and established the Rockland 2000 Committee that planned for long term economic development, tax stabilization, improved transportation, human services, environmental protection and the arts.
In 1990, I was elected to the first of seven consecutive terms in the New York State Assembly representing all of Clarkstown, Haverstraw and parts of Ramapo. During my fourteen years as an Assemblyman, my legislative achievements included: reducing state, personal and business income taxes; increasing state aid to education, health care and the arts; co-sponsoring the S.T.A.R. (tax relief) program; introducing stiffer law enforcement measures; expanding the job base; protecting the environment; leading the downtown revitalization effort; supporting open space and smart growth; and holding the line on government spending.
I was chair of the Racing and Wagering Committee and was a member of Assembly Committees on Aging, Local Governments, Real Property Taxation, Transportation and the Assembly Hispanic Task Force. I also created the Rockland County ‘Coats for Kids’ program, which has provided needed clothing to Rockland families for over 20 years.
In August 2004, I was appointed Supervisor by a unanimous vote of the Clarkstown Town Board and was elected in November 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011.
During my tenure as supervisor, I stabilized property taxes, reinvested in the Town’s infrastructure, revitalized our hamlet downtowns, completed flood prevention projects, protected 205 acres of open space, enhanced Town programs and recreational facilities, initiated and completed the Town’s Comprehensive Plan, strengthened code enforcement efforts and kept Clarkstown 'one of the safest towns in America.'
I have supported senior and fifty-five and over housing, expanded our economic commercial tax base, created a new cell tower law, established a tree preservation law and a new sign law, initiated a study of communities affected by malls and signed on to an energy conservation plan. Under my leadership the Town negotiated the sale of the Town’s Solid Waste Transfer Station to the Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority thereby eliminating annual operating expenses and establishing a $15 million dollar tax stabilization fund. Sound financial decisions such as these played a significant role in the Town earning and keeping its AAA bond rating, which has resulted in millions saved in interest charges.
I use my 28 years of experience in government, relationships with state, county and federal officers and negotiation skills to secure millions of dollars in state and federal grants. I secured $10 million from the County's Sewer District to upgrade the Town’s 40 year old sewage system and secured millions more in grants used to pave roads, revitalize our downtowns, purchase open space and complete flood remediation projects. I continue to work cooperatively with the Town Board in a bipartisan matter to do what is best for the residents of Clarkstown.
The experiences that qualify me to serve as a town board member are I am a graduate of Manhattan College School of Business, with a major in marketing and management. I am an active, working member of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 14-14b. I also am a partner in three businesses in the Village of Nyack. I have been a member of the union since 1997, and I have been in the service industry for 23 years.
I have been dealing with people, in the way of customers, staff, governmental departments, union brothers and sisters, etc. to try to meet their needs, abide by the codes/laws, and also try to maintain a successful business. I think the same holds true when one holds any political office. Running a town is very similar to running a business, and if one knows how to run successful and thriving businesses, I certainly think they can run a town.
I made one unsuccessful bid at elected office in the past. I ran for mayor of the Village of Nyack in I believe 2003-2004, against the Democratic incumbent John Shields.
3. What are the top three issues facing town residents?
Alex Gromack –He included the answers for Question 4: What are your plans for addressing these issues?
1.) The County of Rockland shifting costs on to the towns such as $500,000 for Rockland Community College chargebacks; $1 million for the Rockland County Police Narcotics and Intel Units; $500,000 for the Rockland County Board of Elections. These shifts represent a 2% increase in town taxes. Rectifying this issue with a new County Executive and the County Legislature is an important issue facing Clarkstown residents.
2.) I want to continue to reduce the cost of government while maintaining services. Since I became Supervisor I cut 72 positions, cut personnel expenses totaling over $7 million dollars per year, maintained a AAA bond rating, and consolidated departments: Insurance and Purchasing; Lighting District and Highway Department; Receiver of Taxes & Town Clerk.
3.) The third issue is protecting the quality of life for the residents of Clarkstown, which includes maintaining strong zoning laws, strict enforcement of building codes, protecting over 205 acres of open space and keeping Clarkstown one of the safest towns in the nation.
I think the top issue facing town residents are the zoning and building laws that are currently on the books. It allows for people, or groups of people, to come into towns, not just Clarkstown, with the sole purpose of destroying them and make them their own. That is completely 100% unacceptable to me.
Everybody regardless of race, creed, religion, should be on a level playing field and abide by the same laws and financial taxes as every other member of the community. And unfortunately this should not just be a local issue, but it should be a state and federal issue as well. I hear so much about the "block" vote, we should be the "block" vote if you ask me. Which means we need to get everyone who lives on our "blocks" to get out and vote.
Another important issue I feel is facing the town residents is the extremely high taxes. It is getting to a point where we as taxpayers literally cannot afford to live here. The seniors cannot afford to live here, and neither can young families. I already know way too many friends and families, who were forced to move out of the town they grew up in because they couldn't afford to live here. To me that’s a huge issue.
The schools, or closing of schools, is another very important issue for the members of the community. Clarkstown, as we all know, has always been known for its superior school system. We have the best teachers, administrators, after school programs, special needs programs, and the list goes on. If we lose that, for whatever reason, we lose a huge chunk of one of the things that makes Clarkstown so special.
If we are paying really high school taxes and schools are closing, something is really wrong with the system. While it may not be a town issue, it is a community issue and as a concerned citizen I want to do everything I can as a community member to preserve our schools.
4. What are your plans for addressing these issues?
Alex Gromack – See above response.
The first thing I would do is look at the zoning and building laws and codes. Then I would make the necessary changes to insure that there are no loopholes that groups can get through to circumvent the law. Laws that have been on the books for far too long need to be reviewed and updated. Laws that were made to help and assist groups are now being abused.
I would also appeal to the community as a whole. This is not a task that can be handled by elected officials alone. We all must be aware of what is going on in our community, and make sure we take pride in where we live and grew up, and always maintain our quality of life for our children, and children's children.
For the tax issue, as crazy as it sounds, I think it is fixable. We are not the first town to ever be in a financial crisis. The first thing I would do is stop spending. Put a freeze on all bonded spending.
I would also tell each department what their budget is. I would not let them tell us how much they need, I would tell them how much they had to work with and require them to make the necessary cuts to reduce costs.
The school closings would be more of an issue for the school board, but that is another reason I would put a freeze on all bonded spending. I know the school board is a separate entity from the town board, but I would work side by side with them to figure out how we are going to fix the schools, first and foremost. As I mentioned before, the school system is a very important asset to the town, and its taxpayers, and should be thriving, not collapsing.
5. How do you differentiate yourself from your opponent’s platform?
My years of experience and strong knowledge of government on a state and local level differentiates me from my opponent. However, it seems my opponent agrees with me when it comes to protecting the integrity of our zoning laws and preventing overdevelopment.
I think I differentiate myself from my opponent’s platform in a very significant way. Whatever our platforms may be, I have no political ties, I do not know anyone in the political forum, and I don't owe any favors or vise versa. I do not have to tip toe around the truth, or be "politically correct", I am not looking for the "block" vote.
Quite frankly I am not even really a politician, just a guy with a family who is hoping to make a difference in the town he loves, and was raised in. I believe it's time for a change; we cannot continue to escalate spending.
6. If elected what would you like to achieve over the course of your term?
I want to complete the revitalization projects in Central Nyack and West Nyack. I want to work in partnership with the new County Executive on a number of issues including: enhancing economic development opportunities for Clarkstown, drainage projects, and finding a solution for a greater and more fair distribution of sales tax to the Town of Clarkstown where a majority of sales tax is generated from the Palisades Mall, Shops at Nanuet, car dealers, and the state corridor business districts.
If elected I would really love to achieve all the aspirations I have mentioned above. Although it will not be easy, I think all the goals I have set are attainable. I would love to see our zoning and building laws change, and insure that we maintain our quality of life, for our families as well as our seniors who have worked so hard to make our town so desirable.
I would lower the taxes for our town, which can be accomplished, if everyone works together to cut spending. Cut spending-lower taxes. As for the schools, will they be open, but they will be maintained, up to date, and held up to the standards reflected by our high school taxes.
7. Incumbents: Do you have other employment or own a business in addition to your elected post? Challengers: What is your current employment and will that change if elected?
My current employment is as an operating engineer in New York City. Yes that would definitely change. If I were elected, I would shelf my book for the union and concentrate solely on the task of being Town Supervisor of Clarkstown and making our town a better place.
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