Rockland Village Elections: New Leadership in Airmont and Pomona

(Village of Airmont)

Election results from Airmont and Pomona villages show residents have voted for new leadership, according to Tuesday’s unofficial results in two of Rockland’s hotly contested elections, reported lohud.com.

Write-in candidate and incumbent Mayor Phillip Gigante and his running mates, Paul A. Marchesani and Anthony P. Valvo lost to Nathan R. Bubel and his running mates Brian M. Downey and Migdalia Pesante in Airmont.

Ian Banks and his running mates Carol McFarlane and Ilan Fuchs were seen winning in Pomona.

Incumbents Paul Van Alstyne and Grant Valentine were apparently able to hold their trustee seats against challengers Anthony L. Shaut and Steven J. Wasserman in Chestnut Ridge.

These elections were tumultuous in the Ramapo villages where zoning, code enforcement and relations with the growing frum community have been the decisive issues.

Three weeks before the elections, the Airmont mayor and his two allies on the board were knocked off the ballot after admitting to election fraud.

Gigante and his two running mates on the board of trustees removed themselves after conceding that allegations of fraud in collecting some of their petition signatures could not be defended.

Rockland Elections Commissioner Kristen Zebrowski-Stavisky said the three agreed they had “insufficient signatures and the judge enjoined the clerk from placing their names on the ballot.”

The departure of Gigante, Marchesani and Valvo likely means an end to the recent aggressive push to rezone housing to bar religious Jews from settling in the village. The three had campaigned four years ago on making “bloc voters” — a code word for Orthodox Jews — so uncomfortable they would hesitate from moving in.

The village has been sued by Orthodox Jewish groups four times since its establishment in 1991, in which authorities were accused of making zoning rules that would prohibit everything from eruvin to shuls and houses required for larger families. It currently faces two lawsuits.

The village was sued twice in its early years for discriminatory practices against Jews.

Gigante revived the attempt to bar Jews from the village when he assumed office in 2016. With the election nearing, he had recently escalated the move to rezone properties to keep out shuls or large families.