Friday, Jul 12th

A National Debate in Your Mailbox

postcardblitz(This is the opinion of site founder Joanne Wallenstein) It seems that political campaigns have ignored the mandate to go green, at least when it comes to direct mail. The race between County Executive George Latimer and Congressman Jamaal Bowman for NY Congressional District 16 has unleashed a barrage of mailings in record-setting volumes. Battling for votes, both sides of the campaign are flooding mailboxes with up to three oversized color postcards per day, and recently we’ve started getting hand delivered “door knockers” at our house as well.

How much is too much? Is anyone reading all this material? Though the postcard barrage may be a boon for the printers and the post office, which badly needs revenue, are they effective at getting us to vote?

That’s what I was thinking when one of the mailers arrived featuring a large Scarsdale10583 logo and a link to an article we posted last year about Jamaal Bowman’s vote on the infrastructure bill. How did our local website get wrapped up in the postcard blitz?

It turns out this has been the most expensive Congressional primary race in U.S. history. More than $22 million has been spent as money poured in from around the country due to Bowman’s stance on Israel. The biggest spender was a super pac called “The United Democracy Project,” funded by pro-Israel advocates who spent $14 million on mailings, television and radio ads in favor of George Latimer.

Though this is a race to represent Westchester, it has become a referendum on what’s going on in the Middle East instead.
While votes on foreign policy are one small part of a Congressman’s job, shouldn’t the focus be on how well a candidate can represent the interests of his/her home district? Somehow that point has been lost.

Anyone who has been watching local politics for the past thirty seven years knows that Latimer has been here for us in every way possible. He supports environmental initiatives, recycling initiatives, stormwater remediation and projects to safeguard our community against flooding. He is for transparency in government, he is pro-choice and he has managed challenging situations regarding immigrants, finding practical solutions for asylum seekers.

Most of all he is visible and on a first name basis with many of his constituents. In Scarsdale, we see him at Village Hall, at the library and at community events. In so many ways he has shown that he cares.

What’s my point? This election should be about the people of NY #16. And the $22 mm spent on the campaign could have gone a long way in Westchester toward replacing our aging stormwater systems, maintaining roadways, safeguarding open space, stocking food banks, building affordable housing and funding programs that directly assist those in need.

Instead, we’re ending up putting millions of dollars of printed materials into the recycling bin, resulting in more efforts downstream to cart away the paper and hopefully repurpose it.

For those who support Israel, wouldn’t it be more effective to send the funds directly to the Israeli Defense Fund rather than spending it on a convoluted path to influence a vote in Congress that may or may not occur after the war is over?

Maybe local elections should go back to being funded by local donors and focused on local issues. Foisting national single interest donors on small municipalities like Scarsdale undermines the democratic process.