Hispanic business and small business is at the forefront of Noam Bramson’s campaign platform.
In his bid for the County Executive seat in Westchester County, Noam Bramson hopes to take some of the lessons learned in New Rochelle, N.Y., with regard to small business and Hispanic business and apply them countywide. A lifelong county resident, Bramson has served on the New Rochelle City Council for 10 years and as the community’s mayor for eight years.
“In New Rochelle we’ve pursued a forward-looking strategy for economic development that has attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment to our downtown and surrounding areas. It’s created hundreds of jobs and it’s generating a net positive of about $8.5 million dollars every year for taxpayers,” he explains. “Looking forward I think there’s much more that the county can and should do in order to ensure that we have a vital, growing regional economy.”
During his tenure as mayor, Bramson has worked to construct relationships with business leaders on an individual basis and through organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, the city’s Downtown Business Improvement District, Westchester County Association and the Westchester Business Council. The Bellas Artes Business Council in New Rochelle is another organization he has worked with. The council helps entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations enhance opportunities for successful development, growth and marketing with a special focus on building capacity and establishing support networks among Hispanic-owned businesses.
When it comes to Hispanic business, he is quick to point out that Latino business owners and entrepreneurs have contributed greatly to the county’s economy. To help Latino residents Bramson proposes several initiatives:
- A champion of comprehensive immigration reform for those who are right now undocumented or aren’t sure of their status, Bramson says a path to citizenship should be provided so people don’t have to hide in the shadows and can contribute more fully to the community.
- For many Hispanics and those who face barriers related to English language proficiency, it’s important that the county provide robust opportunities for English language instruction so that individuals and families are fully able to receive the opportunities around them, he says.
- Partnerships are also key. “I think we want to encourage the same kinds of partnerships, the same kinds of umbrella organizations that have been so helpful in assisting businesses owned by folks of any ethnic group because that provides information sharing, mutual support, networking and other measures that enable people to achieve success,” he explains.
- It’s also important, according to Bramson, that the county have clear, transparent standards for Hispanic businesses and other minority and women-owned enterprises so that, through the contracting process, “we are making sure that businesses that are owned by Latinos are given a fair shot to compete and I think we need to affirm the principle that we’re all in this together, that everybody in our community counts and that all of us benefit from a spirit of equal opportunity for every resident of Westchester.”
The Tax Plan
Bramson believes he can provide the leadership needed to maintain a lean and efficient government. New Rochelle has the lowest municipal tax rate of all the big cities of Westchester and the rate of increase in the time he’s been in public office has been the lowest of the big cities in Westchester, he says.
County Executive Rob Astorino has balanced the county’s budget by borrowing tens of millions of dollars for the county’s operation, Bramson says. “Perhaps even more importantly, the county executive is focusing only on the one-sixth of our tax bill that goes to the county when, in fact, we ought to be concerned about the total amount all of us are paying to support public services,” Bramson explains.
Westchester County’s dozens of municipalities and dozens of school districts could be working together. “That does not mean eliminating our smaller villages or smaller school districts. It does mean creating a structure of shared services that lets the smaller entities work side-by-side. There’s lots of low-hanging fruit to choose from: shared contracts for road resurfacing, shared administrative and planning functions, cooperation on street maintenance, cooperation on arts and cultural planning, technology, payroll distribution and there’s an appetite on the part of mayors and superintendents to cooperate but it’s no one’s job right now to structure the inter-municipal agreements that would make this happen.
That, to me, is a natural leadership role for the county to play. It has not been pursued with any seriousness in the last few years and I think unless we’re confronting this challenge we’re not really dealing with the issue of taxation in a serious fashion. In my opinion, what we’ve outlined is a sensible, coherent strategy for bending the cost curve that is impacting just about every resident of our region,” says Bramson.
Taxation is one of the four legs of Bramson’s campaign platform. The other three are: create jobs for a green economy; strengthen families and communities; stand up for values.
Bramson also differs from Astorino on issues such as gun control, where he favors some controls, and abortion rights, where he supports a woman’s right to choose. “I better represent the moderate mainstream traditions of Westchester County whereas the county executive comes from a much different sort of extreme right-wing perspective, which I think is inconsistent with where a majority of Westchester residents are themselves,” he concludes.
Norm Bramson is looking to capture the county seat from incumbent Rob Astorino. More on current Westchester County Executive, Rob Astrorino here