On the Comeback Trail: My Home Town Has a Message for the Nation by Gregory Hilton

Can you hear us now? Four special elections on Tuesday resulted in a net gain of two seats for the Republican Party in the New York State Assembly. These were minor elections on a national scale, but they have a major message. Independent voters are continuing to cross over in large numbers to the GOP.
My hometown of Armonk is within the 89th Assembly District, and Democrats outspent Republicans by a 3 to 1 ratio and they have a massive registration advantage. Democrats have held this seat for 17 years, and their candidate was endorsed by the district’s dominant newspaper.
The new GOP Assemblyman, Robert Castelli, was elected with a 55 to 45 percent margin. Castelli ran in this same district in 2004 when there was no incumbent and was defeated by a 59 to 41 percent margin. His 14 percent gain was almost entirely from independents.
Democrats still have a veto-proof majority in Albany, and Castelli did not win because of charisma. He emphasized that suburban Westchester is the highest-taxed county in the nation, and his opponent had voted for higher taxes.
The message in this district is common throughout Blue America, and the candidate said it best: “One-party government in Albany has given us record deficits, unconscionable taxes, massive job losses and a population that is fleeing our state. . . High taxes are driving hard working families out of New York, and raising taxes in difficult economic times is not a path to prosperity. . . Skyrocketing health care costs, overburdening regulations, and high corporate taxes are also driving small businesses out of the state.”
He also made it clear that one of his top targets is public employee unions. New York’s Triborough Amendment means there is unchecked salary increases and no effective collective bargaining with public employees. Unions have no incentive to offer concessions or to bargain in good faith because all the benefits they want are already locked in. New York is the only state in the nation to have such a contract this beneficial to public employees.
Last November high taxes, burdensome regulations and public employee contracts were key reasons the GOP elected County Executives in both Westchester and Nassau Counties. The change is coming.

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