Journal News Offers Brabenec Endorsement.
Cites Brabenec/Wieder “choice…isn’t a great one”.
In it’s recent candidate review for New York’s 98th State Assembly District, the Journal News of Rockland offers a lukewarm endorsement of first-term incumbent Karl Brabenec. It’s statement on the race, however, seems prone to suggest that the choice is merely selecting an alternative to Aron Wieder.
Noting the wording in its Twitter slug that “The choice between Karl Brabenec and Aron Wieder isn’t a great one,” the Journal News editorial staff appears either reluctant or at best lukewarm on the candidate. Almost a statement of “At least he isn’t Aron Wieder”, a candidate that the paper cites as being at the center of the East Ramapo School District controversy. In its rationale, the editorial staff cites, “Wieder was often at the nexus of East Ramapo’s fairness and fiduciary flops.”
Which is to say that if Wieder wasn’t directly responsible for East Ramapo’s troubles, he certainly was in the vicinity.
A read of the endorsement, and the paper’s take on the candidates, is certainly troubling for Wieder. It attributes very few positive positions to Wieder, who often has deflected East Ramapo’s issues on the current formula for state education funding. Though Wieder appeared to offer no solutions other to this issue, the Journal News attributed to Brabenec the notion that he would at least “float new ideas”. This includes changing the formula for education funding from property taxes to income taxes. Without details, it’s difficult to understand if this provides a better solution versus jut a different one.
While the Journal News credits Brabenec with co-sponsorship of a bill to strengthen local oversight of annexations, the paper missed some key details. Namely that Brabenec’s first attempt at a bill would have been dead on arrival rather than one that could pass the Assembly and Senate. Much of the credit for the successful bill came as a result of his partnership with Assemblyman James Skoufis in the neighboring 99th district. The paper did make a clear distinction between Brabenec and Wieder. Wieder only suggested the expansion of the Kiryas Joel School District’s borders. While the school district is a concern, Wieder suggests nothing meaningful that addresses concerns over expansion, county services and other issues.
Comparing Brabenec and Wieder.
The Journal News missed another opportunity to distinguish the candidates: Wider’s Rockland Legislature record. Wieder was among the more controversial figures in the Rockland legislature, often citing parochial issues and creating skirmishes that detracted from any meaningful legislation. Brabenec, by comparison, was cited with a conservative fiscal record as Deer Park Supervisor. Wieder also offered no positions on major issues such as Common Core, ethics reform, or pensions.
Summing it up, the Journal News makes an obvious choice for its readership. It laments that Rockland County may not be the top agenda item for this legislator. Unfortunately, that’s also the nature of the district’s mapping, making it largely an Orange County district. Given the paper’s mostly non-Hasidic readership, a Brabenec choice would be slightly more obvious.
But even given those considerations, the endorsement of Brabenec appears to be both lukewarm and reluctant. It’s only “glowing” when you consider the stark opposition foil in this race. We’ll be interested in seeing if the Times Herald-Record follows suit, or if they offer more enthusiasm.