Victors in the highly contested, even volatile, Rockland County elections held on Tuesday, November 5, included Tom Walsh for Rockland County District Attorney; Michael Specht, as Town Supervisor for the Town of Ramapo, Rockland County legislators, Aron Wieder, (District 13) Itamar Jaeger (District 4) , and Phil Soskin (District 7), and Yisroel Eisenbach, as Trustee for the Village of Spring Valley.
All in all, almost candidates endorsed by the Jewish community were victorious. In contrast, James Foley, Republican, was declared winner over incumbent Democratic Nancy Low-Hogan for the Rockland County Legislator in District 17 (where there are no frum Jews.) Foley, who has no political background, ran on a clear platform of hate and anti-Semitic rhetoric. However, as the vote counts were very close, with 2425 votes for Foley versus 2,359 for Low-Hogan, this win is being taken to recount court, for counting of 150 outstanding absentee voters, and the results may be overturned.
Despite the positive results, the entire campaign was punctuated with messages of hate and anti-Semitism that were downright scary for the religious community. Of primary concern was the race for District Attorney, in which Tom Walsh, who was running on the Democratic, Republican and Conservative party lines, was opposed by Michael Diedrich, who was running on an extremely anti-Semitic campaign, for the newly formed SAM-H party.
Walsh’s win by a large margin against opponent Diedrich, with over 44,500 votes versus approximately 16,000, showed that Rockland County residents desired his experience, expertise, platform of community improvement, and peaceful diplomatic messages. Nevertheless, the fact that 16,000 people did indeed vote for Diedrich hateful messages is most disturbing.
Voter turnout in the frum community was strong, prompting many rumblings that the Jews’ “bloc-votes” caused some of the victories. However, as community liaison Rabbi Yisroel Kahan commented, “The only people who complain about bloc votes are the people on the losing end. No one complains when their guy wins. Walsh won with 67 percent — the entire county rejected Diedrich’s platform of hate. Bloc votes don’t win elections; people who don’t vote lose elections. It was important that the frum constituency came out to vote in large numbers, and that Walsh came in strong, as this gives him a concise mandate, and cements his position for the future.”
Additional winners included Michael Rossman and Brendel Logan-Charles for the Ramapo Town Council; Fredric Brinn as Superintendent of Highways; and David Fried as Justice for the Village of Spring Valley.