Republican challenger Bob Cohen will face Democratic incumbent Suzi Oppenheimer this November during what many are saying will be a historic mid-term election. The two are vying for the coveted 37th District state senate seat.
Cohen is a businessman who owns a real estate company in Manhattan and Oppenheimer is a long-time policymaker who has been a member of the state senate since 1985. Prior to her tenure as a state senator, Oppenheimer was a four-term mayor of the village of Mamaroneck.
In one of the more active local campaigns, the two candidates have sparred over term limits and taxes, and earlier this summer Cohen's campaign blasted Oppenheimer for using taxpayer money to send campaign fliers to thousands of people in Westchester. Oppenheimer's spokesperson said the senator did send the fliers, and conceded they were printed and mailed with public funds, but argued they were not campaign fliers.
The two candidates were asked their top three priorities to address the most pressing issues affecting people in Westchester and across New York State. The following is what each candidate said in their own words.
Bob Cohen (R)
Property Tax Cap
We desperately need a two percent property tax cap in New York State. So many people are struggling to pay their taxes. The increases have been substantially high. Let's get New York out of the negative downward spiral where property taxes are so high that people are leaving and going to other states to work, live and start a family.
Reform the Budget
Albany passed a budget that increased taxes, spending and borrowing, but that failed to deal with the long-term problems and implications. I signed a pledge with the Westchester County Association and New York Uprising that I will do everything in my power to get taxes and spending under control. The people in Albany are an incumbency class. We need new people in there that aren't owing to the special interests.
Let's get our economy growing again. As we shrink the economy, the burden on each person becomes greater because they have to shoulder a larger burden in terms of taxes. As we grow the economy, there are more people to support services. That's why I support a $2,500 tax credit per employee as an incentive for small businesses to hire new workers.
Suzi Oppenheimer (D)
Property Tax Relief
We need to reduce the cost of government at all levels and reduce our reliance on the excessive property taxes New Yorkers are paying today. The key to reducing the burden of property taxes is for every level of government to find new, less expensive ways to operate, to improve efficiency through reorganization and to innovate.
Education and Government Reform
As chair of the Senate Education Committee, I have imposed a moratorium on any new unfunded mandates in education and have led the effort to eliminate existing unfunded mandates in school districts. In addition, I have long supported and sponsored reforms such as the creation of an independent redistricting commission, campaign finance reform, open meeting laws and budget reforms that would enhance accountability at all levels of government.
Help Create Jobs
I support restoration of the STAR rebate checks and elimination of the MTA payroll tax. By reducing our reliance on property taxes and reorganizing government services to cut costs, we will improve the direction of our economy and stimulate the creation of new jobs in the private sector.