WESTCHESTER, N.Y. — Kim Izzarelli (R, C) is running against Assembly member Sandy Galef (D-Ossining) for the 95th Assembly District. The 52-year-old, single mother of two moved to Briarcliff in 1996 and works as an independent pension and retirement consultant.
Izzarelli served on the Citizen Finance Advisory Committee in Ossining, the Audit Committee for Briarcliff Manor School District and serves as a trustee for the Briarcliff Manor Public Library. In 2011 she ran for town of Ossining councilmember; in 2007 she ran for village of Briarcliff trustee.
The 95th Assembly District covers western portions of Putnam County and the west side of Westchester, from Cortlandt and Peekskill south to the town of Ossining.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
The Daily Voice: What are the three biggest issues facing your district or town?
Kim Izzarelli: Well, obviously high property taxes, I think that is a real concern for our school budget and also municipalities. We have a tax cap but we don't have mandate relief, and, based on what I'm seeing in the last month or so, this is a crisis situation we're heading into.
I didn't want to use that word, but, based on what I'm reading about how revenue predictions are so much lower than anticipated, and costs, such as the [Teachers Retirement System], I believe will be a 15 percent increase in contributions. So, the costs are higher than anticipated and the revenues are lower than anticipated and we have all this framed around the cap at 2 percent. And even without any changes at all, you've got everything rising in a school budget at 3 percent, not even bringing in salary increases. Which will of course just blow us out of the water.
So the first being taxes, the second being unfunded mandates, which are, of course, fueling the increase in property taxes, and the third being just ethics in government. We're seeing so much unethical behavior in Albany, and my opponent, who is basically dismissive about it. So it's difficult to change anything when the tone is such that people are forced to sort of accept poor leadership.
The Daily Voice: How would you address those issues?
Izzarelli: I would bring legislation to repeal the Triborough Amendment, and this is something we have to do if we're in a crisis situation.
Arbitration agreements need to define what a municipality's ability is to pay, and we don't do that right now. If a union in White Plains, or a union in Peekskill, or a union in the village of Ossining goes to an arbitrator in a contract, the arbitrator's decision is final — regardless of whether than municipality can pay or not — and I don't think that's right.
Because it's budget time, people are starting to hear about some of the cuts that will have to be made. So the momentum is picking up very quickly. I would reach out across the aisle to the other party, I would reach out to districts in other areas which are going to be affected first.
As far as ethics, I think it just really begins with removing Sheldon Silver, and it's a hard process because even if he is sanctioned, asked to leave by the ethics panel, he still can get re-elected. So, it's really a tough process.
The Daily Voice: What would you do differently than the previous office holder?
Izzarelli: She's not, in my view, a real business- oriented individual and I think that's a clear difference between the two of us. I want to help this region recover economically, and one of the things I'm interested in, very, very interested in, is seeing public-private partnerships passed. Such as is being sponsored by Greg Ball and Bob Castelli.
Sandy received an 'F' from the National Federation of Independent Business Owners, and most of her votes reflect that — that she doesn't really care about people who are trying to generate a revenue and build a business and create jobs. She's more about really exhausting our government beyond what it is right now, and our resources.
The Daily Voice: You say repealing the Triborough Amendment would be one of your first orders of business. Could you explain how you believe this would help ease the tax burden?
Izzarelli: Because it would immediately allow $300 million more in school budgets this year and $140 million more in municipal budgets this year, just by going away. Assuming there are contracts that are not enforced, and the number of contracts that are not enforced that but are already having to provide it, it magically creates cash.
So, from there, once we started to look at arbitration and changing those items and changing how ability to pay is part of the definition of a municipality's obligation, then that's a big game-changer too, because you don't have municipalities obligated to pay for things that they really can't afford, and then we can really start to have responsible budgeting again.
We don’t have responsible budgeting right now. We've given away the future in shackles to our children in debt on all levels of government. I can't point to something specific., I know people want to say, 'Well it's this, it's that.' This would be ethics. This would change everything. This would make New York the Empire State again. This would make it the economic engine that works. This would put government back in the hands of people.
The Daily Voice: Why should people vote for you?
Izzarelli: My campaign was completely grassroots, it wasn't funded by any big [Political Action Committee], there isn't anyone propping me up. It's about staying alive for another day. It's all been me, and small contributions of people around me and also the great influence of people like Nick D'Angelo, who was instrumental in getting our word out. For people who want honest representation in Albany, I'm their candidate. For people who are unfazed by paying high taxes and really seeing a situation get progressively worse, then they have another option, but that’s not me.
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