The 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.