New Rochelle City Council Candidates Spar at League of Women Voters Debate

Written By: Robert Cox

LWVNRForum2011The League of Women Voters of New Rochelle sponsored a candidate forum last night at City Hall.

In District 1, incumbent Republican Lou Trangucci faced off against former District 4 Council Member, Democrat Roberto Lopez in a series of testy exchanges. This pairing was not even close. Trangucci gave a strong performance, with a clear command of the facts, and swatted away planted questions with ease. Lopez was undisciplined and struggled to make the charge that Trangucci had not served the people of District 1 during his term. Trangucci is well-known in his district for providing a high level of constituent services.

In District 3, incumbent Democrat Jared Rice and Republican John Earvin engaged in an earnest and, at times, amusing discussion with Earvin injecting his own special brand of humor into the discussion. While neither candidate was particularly impressive, Rice has the benefit of running in a district dominated by Democrats and was able to coast along without making any unforced errors.

In District 4, Republican Kevin Barrett and Democrat Ivar Hyden, vying for the seat left open by Richard St. Paul, got into a very negative back and forth that brought out “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd. Hyden was the more compelling candidate on the issue of his long-time association with downtown New Rochelle and his connections to the community. He convinced many independents and even some Republicans that he would not be a rubber-stamp for Mayor Noam Bramson. Barrett’s decision to go negative in his closing remarks blew up in his face and may well cost him the election.

In District 5, incumbent Democrat Barry Fertel and challenger, Republican Ilyse Spertus provided perhaps the most interesting exchanges with Spertus addressing issues and directly answering questions and Fertel sputtering like a mad fool. At one point, Fertel lost his composure and began debating Kevin Barrett from District 4 as Spertus looked on. It soon appeared that Fertel was ready to debate every candidate from every district and had to be rebuked several times by the moderator to stop talking past his time limit. Fertel was particularly enraged that Spertus raises concerns about the lifetime medical benefits provided to part-time Council Members after five years on Council, benefits Fertel will qualify for this year. In contrast to Fertel, Spertus was calm, cool and collected throughout and had a dominating performance.

In District 6, Democrat Sheri Rackman and Republican Steve Mayo vied for the open seat left by longtime City Council Member Marianne Sussman. Mayo repeatedly focused on high property taxes and had a clear command of issues. Rackman seemed unprepared and struggled to provide specific answers to questions from the moderator.

For those who were there or watched at home please chime in with your thoughts. I need some reader help on identifying the guy who was handing out pre-prepared questions to Democrats and directing them to stuff the suggestion box.


31 thoughts on “New Rochelle City Council Candidates Spar at League of Women Voters Debate”

  1. Watched Debate
    I thought the two strongest new candidates were Mayo and Spertus. Both were calm and thoughtful and spoke well about independence and fiscal responsibility. Fertel seemed angry the whole debate and Rackman is remarkably ill-informed. Earvin seems like a great guy and Rice is ok, just too much of a rubber-stamp for Dems. The best Dem was Hyden, while Barrett needs some work on Rep side.

    Trangucci by far was the strongest incumbent. He is a real voice for people he represents. Lopez knows as little as Rackman, but at least she is new to this business. It is scary that Lopez ever served on council.

    Now I see what Noam has all his signs with running mates. He is excited about having an all rubber-stamp council with several lightweights.

    1. Lopez Will Certainly be a Rubber Stamp
      People were concerned about mayorial campaign signs supporting councilmembers and it’s implications. What if 20 percent of your campaign money came from the mayor and his cronies. One fifth of your campaign is beholding to one entity and you think Lopez has any chance of being a free thinker? You can see the Lopez campaign details here

  2. Clowncilmember Fertel Lies (again) and Preprinted Questions –
    Keeping true to form, Barry just couldn’t resist embarrassing City Manager Chuck Strome as he painted another one of his self serving lies. Regarding the library parking lot with it’s vandalized machines, Barry claimed that it’s “all taken care of”, not to worry, we are installing all new meters, completely automatic, you can pay with your phone while you’re sitting at the restaurant, no more vandals, Barry the hero. Well, flash forward to the WVOX show, “in the city” this tuesday with Chuck, and he was asked about this very same thing.
    Oddly enough, Chuck was sure there was no truth to Barry’s claim. If I had to guess, I would be pretty confident that the city manager knows more about the goings on in the city than Barry ever will.

    So, Barry then went on to claim how much he has done for North Ave (“it’s not even in my district”). I laughed to myself as I thought back to the outcry by the residents IN his district as they asked for help with cleaning up the abuses in Stephenson Park. The park wasn’t in his district, but many of his district residents use the park. Completely void of any suggestion or effort to help, he went on for years dodging the issue. Thanks for nothing Barry. The debate revealed his anger management issues as he lost his composure trying to debate even those not running against him. Unable to defend the failed policies he was forced to agree to. Fuming when he was asked about the possibility of losing his lifetime health insurance. Blathering on about how any of the cost saving suggestions by the other side of the aisle don’t amount to much. What’s the threshold Barry? 50thousand, 100 thousand, a million? How much money is worth saving? I’ll ask some of my unemployed friends and get back to you.

    This is someone who never had an original thought in his life, unless it was given to him. Is this who you want to represent you? The proverbial yes man to the special interest money driven mayor. Time to move on Barry and stop embarrassing yourself and New Rochelle. You’ve done “enough” thank you.

    Another thing. What’s the deal with pre printed questions? What small group of people were able to predict what the electorate might want to ask? Wasn’t anyone smart enough to think of their own, or was it just a way of controlling the debate? Hmmmm, I wonder, because there’s plenty of smart folks in New Rochelle and I’m sure they could fill the box with relevant questions. Maybe Mr Sherbert was simply helping with the overflow of questions to make sure none of them were lost in the shuffle. Seems strange that the LWV would let a paid political consultant (on any side) be involved with the process.

    Change the status quo, let Barry spend more time with his family. A vote for Ilyse Spertus, is a vote for a brighter future.

      1. upcoming election
        Ned Rausch just described what the city-wide candidates stand for on October 21st and it seemed to be a fair reflection of positions. It helped me in several ways not the least being indicating the names of the various candidates which is an indispensable aid to my flagging memory.

        1. what I generally have problems with is the abundance of lawyers running for office. Lawyers are trained in a way that goes against the type of decisive critical decision making needed in our emerging dynamic society. They haggle, delay, look for nuances and too often, build houses of straw. They are excellent staff members, not decision makers. Of course there are many exceptions, but frankly, exceptions do make the rule and in my business life, they were invaluable advisors and not implementors or creators

        2. Ned further enlightes me on all candidates, but particularly refreshes my recollection on the District 6 candidates. They both are articulate and have some real things to say. However, in Steve Mayo’s case, I am concerned that he labelsthe Council perjoritively as a “board of directors>’ That is correct by City Code, but incorrect by subsequent on the job behavior. As I have pointed out, Articles X and XIII are not trivial stuff; they literally point a picture of how the City was meant to be run. We have a Business Manager who runs a large administrative series of departments. The Council has board powers of oversight and policy and rarely uses them; it rather politicizes the process, allows for an ad hocrisy on the mayoral powers (it is designed for ceremonial plus emergency) and it doesn’t seem to concern too many people in and out of office. I suppose that is the need throughout the City for adversarial behavior and blame over cooperative and positive critical thinking.

        Stephen you should take off your attorney’ cap and put on your business cap and read this and reflect. If you want the city council not to be a board of directors, then change the Code and organizational arrangements. Put more power, demands, resources if needed in the hands of the Business Manager and or change the Council’s role to be more legislative, align their position to the Business Manager differently, but Stephen, you must then come up with an independent board of directors to represent the City in total as an oversight and policy source. If you do, please do not stack it with northsiders and lawyers. Perhaps a radically redefined Planning Board with elevated members, is the best answer.

        Shari Rackman is interesting in her own right; my only concerns are the legal background and north end affiliation. She sensibly raises the issue around abatement preoccupation by critics, indicating to me an understanding of its role in development as well as the potential for abuse, be that abuse benign caused by inexperience or lack of focus on New Rochelle as an asset. So, I like her take on this and would only caution her not to believe that there are not politician out there who are against abatements and incentives. Shari, there are! Some say the city is “bib enough” but again, my contention is that those that do will come around based on receiving a clearer understanding of the role such incentives play in development. For me, I am content at this point in laying a lot of the education process in the hands of Michael Freimuth.

        My concern continues with all candidates that they fail to see the forest for the trees in terms of city growth and development. None think beyond current borders concerning the need to control the school district, business district development, and City Code realignment. Only these three critical points will prep us for a unified and committed one city, one future theme.

        Yes, this is buried under a response to an earlier comment, but I lack the energy and the will to elevate it as a blog entry. I welcome any representative of a council member, a council hopeful, a blogger, and or Bob Cox to elevate it as it stands into the newsletter or reference to it as the blog master so sees fit.

      2. Warren don’t confuse the charter with reality
        Warren, you have a propensity to quote the city charter but fail to recognize reality. A council majority of any four members controls the appointment of the city manager therefore they control the city regardless of the city charter which stipulates a ceremonial mayor and professional city manager for day to day operations. That’s why the city manager gave a democratic council woman who did not have five years of service required for lifetime council benefits a non-posted position with a taxpayer grant from Homeland Security. The additional nine months of service allowed her to claim the benefits. If the city manager was truly independent there would have been no way he would have added to the retirement costs to New Rochelle. At the time it was a six to one super majority democratic council. Now what do you think about the reality of New Rochelle politics?

  3. RE: A liar and a fraud.. asi es ” el gallo-gallina”
    Roberto Lopez is known by many in his community as ” el Gallo-gallina” ( Half rooster-half hen). When all the details of his ‘sordid” relationship with the recently “exposed” Roberto Silva come to light, the public will see exactly what ” el gallo-gallina” has been up to, and, kids, its NOT PRETTY. As the previous poster stated clearly, “Lopez is a liar and a fraud”. He does not serve his community nor anyone at all, he merely serves himself. And what does he do to his friends? He throws them under the bus to save himself and his increasing tarnished reputation. ACTIONS speak louder than words and reveal what type of person he truly is. This Gallo-Gallina is roasted. Now, someone please pass the barbecue sauce, this chicken is rather dry.

  4. That is Jeremy Sherber
    Sherber is a paid consultant for New Rochelle Democrat candidates. It is kind of sad that the NR Dems have to pay someone to do this.

    1. Paid?
      So he was being paid to stuff the question boxes at the League of Women Voters Forum? I guess I need to do a little more research on this guy.

      I might be wrong but I don’t think the Republicans have any paid political consultants working on any of the campaigns. If that is not the case let me know but I am curious about this.

      I can say that after the forum two guys told me they were paid political consultants for Roberto Lopez. That would mean the Dems had three paid political consultants at the forum. That seems expensive for a City Council race.

      1. This could violate the LWV
        This could violate the LWV terms? Certainly is unethical in a public debate forum which is expected to have a level of fairness.

      2. Not when the mayor’s deep
        Not when the mayor’s deep pockets subsidize the campaigns of future yes-men

  5. I agree with Knitter about Kevin Barrett
    Kevin Barrett has a lot to offer the City of New Rochelle. It makes no difference how long he hsa lived in New Rochelle and he comes to the City with a diverse and impressive background of civic involvement. He has shown his interest by putting his name in for this position.

  6. On another note !!!!
    Has anyone heard anything from our newly hired leader, in our planning and development office?????

    We all were so impressed about his past achievements in Conn .

    What plans are being developed for the future of New Rochelle downtown??

    Do we have an active game plan that is being executed to invite future development?

    Or are just getting paid very well, and blaming the lack of intrest in New Rochelle on the economy.

    I know there schould be more info comming out to the public then there is rigt now.

    And i dont want to here about Fourt Slocum ‘s
    futer PLEASE!!!

    I want to hear about the part of New rochelle that
    is most attractive to future development.That’s the part along the 95 and Metro north corridore!

    That’s the golden vaine that run’s through this
    That is what the planning and development schould
    focus on and getting out to future developers.

    So what would be realy nice ,would be maybe a comment to this Talk of the sound from the planning and development office .

    Just a little catch up on why our tax dollars are
    being invested in there pay check’s ????

    Hey Bob what do you think of that?!?!

    And please anyone who reads this ,I really would like to hear your ideas ans comment’s.

    Your’s truly The South side man!!!!

    1. If you watch the council
      If you watch the council meetings, you will see that the development commissioner, Micheal Friemuth, has appeared before council several times with proposals. The most recent of these is a plan to allow Capelli to bring commercial business into the Trump building as opposed to retail. The other thing on the agenda is the development of the waterfront at the request of our wonderful mayor.

      That said, Mr. Freimuth is a very, very good commissioner who is an assest to the City.

      1. planning and developement
        Thank you for your feed back on my question that was posted.

        It is nice to see that there are people in this town who still have faith and confidence in the hired officials that are trying to better develope our city New Rochelle.

        But my question still stand’s!

        We all know about the attempt to develope our water front, but that was going on Before our new addition to our planning and development office.

        Also we have been trying to get retail and commerci
        ial buisnes’s in the down town area for a long time ,not just in the Trump towers,or Avolon.
        So my question is WHAT’S NEW??????

        Please let us know, what is the stratagy that is being implamented?

        We have new tallent that is working on old stuff and we are slippng backward’s.
        Dont forget the 80’s when we had 60% of for rent lost our lease main street.

        I am not sying it is easy, but at least show us some NEW IDEA’S .

        We keep hearing about the same old stuff over and over.
        Fourt slocum,main street water front,attempts at commercial and retail growth.
        There are alot of for rent signs on main street

        And yes we all know the economy is bad!

      2. iHop is new
        The reason for the change from retail to commercial at Trump is because iHop is interested. First Trump is another failure in that the retail promised and used to achieve IDA tax abatements never materialized. Then Trump went from ownership to rentals to rent to own. As far as iHop goes, there are major questions. Will patrons pay $1 per hour to park across the street in the New Roc lot and cross the street or the bridge to get to iHop? Fremuth seems to be a sharp cookie but it was the Spertus campaign who met with Fremuth and explained a strategy that got New Rochelle and extra $170,000 from the Maple Avenue project.

        Lopez is clueless while Rice, Hyden, Fertel and Rackman are puppets as their campaign signs prove. None are capable on their own merits that’s why they are riding Noams coat tails. Coat tails that are paved with consultants, developers and out-of-town monies.

      3. That’s part of the problem
        That’s part of the problem with New Rochelle, it wants to steer its developemnt in 1 direction yet the market takes it in another. NR has no real control over who Cappelli puts in commercial space nor should it.

        Its our own fault for beleiving that someday sales tax dollars were coming from that location, especially since the city planners chased away Walmart in order to protect the dollar stores that line Main Street. We’d have been better off with no tax abatements and let the market decide.

        I would think for the owner, Cappelli, any tenant is better than vacant space so if iHop is willing to sign Cappelli’s going to sign the lease too. I wouldn’t be surpised if Cappelli came begging to the city for free parking at New Roc for all iHop customers.

        BTW, Phil Reisman of the Journal News had a story out a week or 2 ago saying Cappelli is still negotiating with the city for Le Count Square, only now its going to be a 7 story building. Can anyone say Pipe Dreams?

      4. Freimuth etal
        Dan Malloy was the mayor in Stamford during their renaissance and Freimuth and others were important members of his team. Freimuth is a very sharp guy and if given enough latitude to act, he, as John indicates is sharp and will do a fine job. I consulted for a non-profit in Stamford during some of the early years of development and what is interesting is that they had the same major advantages as New Rochelle. These were a transportation center and attractive shorelines. They had a much better business climate, tax rates and on balance, school district.

        Stamford development was spectacular and, of course it was accomplished during a more friendly economic climate, but Freimuth and others know what they are doing if not put on too tight of a leash. I would love to see Peggy Godfrey interview him for the Westchester Guardian and for people such as the above posters, submit questions to her for consideration. She would likely be agreeable.

        Dan Malloy is now running the State and is fiscally sound. Freimuth undertands the differences between long and short range planning, actionable milestones, developer incentives and yes, what is primary and what is collateral on putting together a development plan.

        Oh, one other point. I think part of the City’s problem in the past is a failure to recognize and thus capitalize on our distinctive advantages such as Stamford did earlier. In fact, we are thirty minutes closer to the City but, then again, we have some real issues on presenting the City in the most positive light. That said, my view is the Stamford folks are the best we have and lets see further as suggested, what is known and planned.

      5. Development
        Thank you for this history of Stamford and Freimuth’s accomplishments. Somethings Stamford has that we can learn from:Stamford train station has 24/7 police presence, open restrooms and a clean waiting room. When you approach the station from I95 on your right you will see office buildings with real live businesses. You will also see hotels and apartment buildings that are now advertising work in Stamford and live here too. Perhaps Stamford realized long before Freimuth work there that it is a city with city problems. I realized New Rochelle is a city with the same problems. When city government realized that and puts our money were it should go starting with safety we will be better off.

  7. Candidates Forum
    Attended the forum and agree with you on all points except when it comes to Ivar and Kevin. For some reason, the question of Kevin’s voting history is a concern. This is the second time this has come up and I think it is dirty politics. What are we telling people? Do not get involved unless you have been here 20+ years. The future of New Rochelle should be all our concern-even if someone moved here last week. I admire Kevin’s dedication and willingness to get involved. More people should be willing to get off their couches and get involved. Dancing with the Stars is not that important, you can always watch it the next day. Listen to the candidates so you can make your vote count.

  8. Roberto Lopez
    Roberto Lopez is clueless as to the city affairs. it was a wasted 4 years when idoni made sure he was elected. he is a liar and a fraud. his own people can’t stomach the site of him.

    let’s make sure he is never on the city council again.

    i’m happy that trangucci chewed him up alive at the debate which is no surprise.

    god bless bob cox!!!!

    1. Good for Mr Trangucci
      good for Mr Trangucci,
      He work’s hard for his side of town.
      He listen’s to people.
      He dosent B.S .
      Leave him right whwere he is !!!

      When it is time…….. vote him back in!!!!!!!

  9. Democratic Hack
    I don’t know the guy but he clearly looks like he got lost on the way to an occupy Wall Street protest meeting or something.

    1. who’s the other guy?
      might be right but who is the guy behind him who looks ready to take his head off

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