Astorino, Bramson Go Head-To-Head For First Time In County Executive Race

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Photo Credit: Suzanne Samin
Rob Astorino discusses his goals as county executive. Photo Credit: Suzanne Samin
Noam Bramson discusses his goals if he were to be elected as county executive. Photo Credit: Suzanne Samin

Note: This article has been updated to correct an error.

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Incumbent Republican Rob Astorino and Democratic challenger Noam Bramson went head to head in the first debate of the race for Westchester county executive Wednesday evening.

Bramson continued to emphasize his stances on social services and cited alleged inaccuracies in Astorino's claims of tax increases during Bramson's tenure as New Rochelle mayor.

"If you're going to make a choice that impacts people in such direct, human terms, at least have the guts to take responsibility for those consequences and not try to hide behind statistics," Bramson said of Astorino's cuts on childcare programs, "You're trying to pretend you somehow improved childcare by reducing the funding for childcare."

Astorino focused on the necessity of learning from what he characterized as previous administrative mistakes and cited tax increases in Bramson's record as mayor of New Rochelle, claims Bramson countered were misleading.

"Let's think about the election four years ago," Astorino said. "The county was in a tail spin. The administration was spending like crazy, saying yes to everything. We had an $166 billion deficit and a housing settlement.

"We had to make hard choices - that's my job."

"We need to find a healthy balance. We do have a heart in this county, and we should keep that heart.

"If you give me another four years, I will continue to move down a path toward a healthy, balanced approach to Westchester government."

While some pointed attacks were made by both Astorino and Bramson, the two were cordial upon greeting one another, and joked occasionally at the outset of the first one-on-one exchange in a campaign that has had an aggressive tone.

The first debate was held by the Westchester Business Council at the Reckson Metro Auditorium in White Plains. The debate was moderated by Lee Miringoff of the Marist Institute of Public Opinion.

The candidates tackled questions about new job growth, taxes, Playland, affordable housing, mandate relief and what it means to be county executive.

According to the Marist Poll, 30 percent of adults in Westchester say taxes should be the top priority for the next county executive, while 21 percent say jobs; 19 percent education; 12 percent economic development; 7 percent housing; 5 percent poverty, crime and transportation; and less than 1 percent race relations.

The next debate is the Westchester County Association Debate on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at 5:30 p.m. in Rye Brook. RSVP is required.

It will be followed by the League of Women Voters debate on Wednesday, Oct. 23 at Pace University on Martine Avenue in White Plains, which is open to the public.

There will also be four forums including the two candidates.

Questions in the first debate were directed by panel members who represented different parts of the private sector. Audience questions were taken following the initial debate. The debate was not open to the public.

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Comments (10)

I wonder if any of those 19% who thought education was the biggest issue in the county executive race explained what the county executive has to do with education.

um you are a little slow... what about braking news in @yonkers !!!!!


ROB ASTORINO has clearly done his JOB!!! DISAGREE? GO AHEAD, DONATE AS WE HAVE!!! If u care enough about OUR CHILDREN!!!!

Yeah, but unlike Astorino who has a background in the private sector as a Radio executive, and could easily transition back into the "real world" with the rest of us, Harvard educated Bramson has been writing speeches for Nita Lowey and waiting for her retirement so he could run for her Congressional seat for twenty years.

The night she was redistricted and Noam lost his opening to D.C. must have been a corker.

He's not a lawyer, accountant, business professional, or anything else that transfers to reality. Writing political speeches?

Politics is all he's got. Expect a really nasty, desperate performance from a guy whose run out of options.

Perfectly said.

Astorino has done a great job standing up for Westchester County. Bramson seemed to be mis-informed on important topics and should not be pandering for votes by concocting "election promises."

Bramson says affordable housing does not mean overriding local zoning or large
buildings. Is he for real ? Someone should clue him in on the Conifer project in New Castle, the creation of his biggest backers, Barbara Gerrard, Nita Lowey and Mike Kaplowitz.

Astorino should have asked Bramson when he'll release next years New Rochelle budget which I'm sure can't be good news for residents.

Noam didn't release the budget until the day after his last election & he somehow thought that was ok.

I'd like to see next years county budget too. Rob when can we expect to see that?

Bramson's just wrong for Westchester County and won't be able to balance & juggle the budget like Astorino has.

The next debate will be sponosred by The Westchester County Association, not The Westchester County Associates as incorrectly noted in this article