A Clean Slate

A WVOX Editorial
broadcast April 26, 2013
by William O’Shaughnessy, president


On this, the first glorious Spring day after our long, mean, endless winter, there are abroad in the land some hopeful signs – even in matters political.

 On Wednesday night the elders of the Westchester Democratic Party anointed New Rochelle‘s Noam Bramson as its nominee for Westchester County Executive.  Good for them.  Our young, gifted and able mayor will run against the highly-regarded (on these airwares anyway) incumbent Rob Astorino.

What’s encouraging about all this is that Westchester voters will now be confronted by a choice between two very nice fellows.  And I don’t mean to tarnish either of them by bestowing that benign appellation “nice.”  Astorino and Bramson.  They are nice guys.  Both of them.  And we take encouragement that they’re both not only sincere and thoughtful … but honest (drum roll!), too. 

Our longtime listeners will recall a familiar theme around here that men and women of real quality will not submit to the rigors of public service.  And so Hacks Rule at the public trough.  (I wanted to use another word.) One has only to look at the New York State Legislature (with notable exceptions like Senators George Latimer, Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Ruth Hassell-Thompson … Assemblywomen Amy Paulin and Sandy Galef. Assemblyman Gary Pretlow belongs with them as well.  But they are damn few and far between).

So its refreshing when we can look forward to a real race on the issues between two fine, young public servants like Astorino and Bramson. 

Both have had their David and Goliath moments.  Mayor Bramson knocked off Katherine Wilson Conroy, the daughter of a governor – the legendary Malcolm Wilson of sainted memory.  And County Executive Astorino defeated the perennial Democrat warhorse Andy Spano, ending his long, forever reign in White Plains

It’s much too early to weigh in on behalf of either candidate.  But we’ll be watching.  And listening.  And we, among a great many others, can only hope the impending contest will not turn mean and nasty or resemble a slugfest between two exemplary, very decent individuals. 

Noam Bramson is a formidable campaigner.  But the mayor will be making a great mistake if he takes any personal shots against Astorino.  Rob Astorino has a genuine warmth about him.  He’s accessible.  He’s approachable.  And, we firmly believe, he’s of good heart and filled with noble intentions.  He’s waged a valiant campaign against government bloat and reckless spending.  And taken some shots for it. 

Noam Bramson, for whom we have great personal regard as well, has to show the whole county that he is more than a policy wonk.  Everybody knows Bramson is bright, precocious, articulate, highly intellectual and, as his recent campaigns have shown, indefatigable.    But, does he have the Common Touch. Can you petition him to help your brother-in-law or neighbor out of a jam?  That has always been the question around here.  Can he relate?  Can he empathize?  Think of Tony Colavita, Dominic Procopio, Steve Tenore, Valerie Moore O’Keefe, Sam Fredman or George Latimer … who resemble politicians the way the men of our fathers’ time imagined them to be.

And while we’re on the subject, it is necessary, I would respectfully suggest, for both candidates to enure themselves from the traditional textbook, boiler-plate, hard and fast views sure to be urged on them by their respective parties.

In other words, they’d be making a huge mistake if, for instance, Astorino campaigns as an ultra-conservative, right-wing, Tea Party yahoo.   And it would be just as dangerous for Bramson to start espousing the tired, discredited, same-old, liberal, Big Government strategies that have inflicted so much burden and disfunction on government at every level in recent years.

So there it is.

We start with two eminently decent candidates.  Let’s hope it doesn’t go downhill.   Let’s hope they don’t forget who they are in their best moments.

And let’s hope they remember that county government really doesn’t need party labels. 

Or party hacks.

This is a WVOX and WVIP Editorial of the Air.

This is William O’Shaughnessy.