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Former Stepinac Great Bob Hyland to run for County Legislature

Posted Saturday, July 18, 2009 by Andy Seife- www.wptimes.com
   
 
Bob Hyland (left), owner of Bob Hyland’s Sports Page Pub in White Plains, and Westchester Board of Legislators Chairman Bill Ryan will square off in the District 5 race.
Photo credit: Paula Markowitz Wittlin (Bob Hyland photo)
County Legislator Slots Up For Grabs
Published: July 15, 2009

Fighting for “5”
The battle for county legislature supremacy is on! On June 24 it was officially announced that long-time White Plains businessman Bob Hyland would challenge the incumbent and Westchester County Legislature Board Chairman William Ryan for the District 5 County Legislator office.

Hyland is running on the Independence Party line and has recently been endorsed by the Republican Party. The Conservative Party is expected to follow in suit.

Four years ago, Brian Maloney, then chairman of the Westchester GOP, asked Hyland to run for county government, but Hyland declined the offer. He asserts he is not aligned with either of the two dominant political parties but in the past, has checked boxes on voting registrations as a Right-to-Life Republican and cites Ronald Regan and Jack Kemp as his political heroes.

Bob Hyland was born in White Plains and attended Archbishop Stepinac High School, where he played football for the Stepinac Crusaders. After four years at Boston College, Hyland was a first-round draft pick for the Green Bay Packers in 1967 and in his rookie season won Super Bowl II. He played as left guard and center for the Packers from 1967 to 1969 and 1976, the New York Giants for five seasons, the Chicago Bears and the New England Patriots in an impressive 11-year career. “I think playing in the NFL takes an awful lot of discipline and requires that someone be a team player,” said Hyland, who feels his football career provides him with valuable experience he could call upon if elected District 5 County Legislator.

In addition to his NFL career he has been the owner of Bob Hyland’s Sports Page Pub in White Plains since 1981. Hyland also runs his own insurance practice. He claims his years as a successful businessman make him further qualified to be the County Legislator of District 5, which includes White Plains and Scarsdale. During an appearance on Phil Reisman’s radio show this past Thursday, Hyland explained that people involved in business understand better than politicians the importance of revenue and frugality. Hyland also says he sympathizes with the common people, interacting with them on a daily basis. According to Hyland, the most frequent subject of discussion other than sports in his restaurant is taxes. “There are ongoing discussions all the time about taxes and how absurdly high they have become. People aren’t getting the feeling there’s going to be any relief,” he said.

William Ryan: Incumbent
Bill Ryan has been the incumbent District 5 Legislator since 1998 and has not faced a stern challenge from an opposition party in a long time. He ran unopposed in the last election. Ryan does not appear particularly concerned. “I made note of it [Hyland’s decision to run] but that is something you expect—the opposition to endorse someone to run against you. But beyond that I haven’t thought too much about it.” Ryan says he has achieved a lot during his long tenure, including the creation of the County Office of Economic Development and the Westchester County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) which, in Ryan’s words, “contributed significantly to the Renaissance that White Plains is now experiencing.”

From 2003 to 2008 the county budget increased 87 percent and a fifth of local taxes goes to the county government. The 2009 county budget is lower than the budget of 2008. Westchester is the only county in New York State to have three agencies—Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s—assign a AAA rating for its financial management. No other county in the state has managed to get a AAA rating from two different agencies.

Ryan prides himself on his rapid response and accessibility to constituents. However, Ryan has come under fire in the last year for a proposed 40 percent pay increase for himself. “I certainly regret the kickback it created,” Ryan admits, though he maintains that the 40 percent pay raise was not his idea, or even something he unilaterally supported. “We did establish a committee of people from the community to determine what an appropriate pay increase would be. This committee had qualified representatives from the business community, the League of Women Voters, etc. The 40 percent was just the recommendation that the entire committee agreed upon.”

Changing County Government?
“I really think county government needs some changes. We have lost sight of what the role of county government should be,” says Hyland. “The people of Westchester are so fed up with the current system they are actually talking about the elimination of county government altogether. I think a good way to change things is to give people choices.”

Responding to Hyland’s claims that the county legislature is responsible for wasteful spending, Ryan countered: “When he says we have to get rid of wasteful spending he has to do better than that,” referring to Hyland’s comments. “He has to point out where there is wasteful spending in the government. He’s entitled to his opinion but this is one of the best managed counties and the strongest, financially, in the United States.”

It will be an uphill battle for Hyland. With only a few months until Election Day, virtually no fundraising done, and a 93 percent rate of incumbent reelection, Hyland knows he has his work cut out for him.

The Debate for “8”
The District 5 County Legislator position is not the only office in county government up for grabs come Election Day. Lois Bronz, County Legislator for District 8, which consists of parts of White Plains, Greenburgh, Tarrytown, and Mount Pleasant, is retiring after 16 years of service. The Greenburgh Democratic Committee, the White Plains Democratic City Committee and Bronz herself (also a democrat) have recently thrown their support behind Alfreda Williams, formerly the Greenburgh Town Clerk.
 


County Legislator Lois Bronz, seen here accompanied by County Executive Andrew Spano at the Juneteenth celebration, is retiring and supporting Alfreda Williams to be her successor.

Photo credit: Paula Markowitz Wittlin
“She knows the community, people in the community know her,” says Bronz explaining the reasoning behind her nomination of Williams. “She will publicly stand up for things she believes in, and most important, she’s family first.” Chuck Bronz, Lois Bronz’s husband, is acting as Williams campaign manager.

Williams served as Greenburgh Town Clerk for 14 years, having been elected seven times. In addition to her experience as town clerk, which included setting the agenda for town board meetings and issuing licenses, Williams contends her best attribute is her people skills, and says her amicable nature will be very helpful if she is elected. “People are often intimidated by government,” says Williams. “I’m here to help cut through the bureaucracy and give county politics a more personal approach.”

But the Democratic Party endorsement has not been clinched. Karin Wompa, a Sleepy Hollow resident, is also in the race. Originally, she had lost to Williams by a margin of .2 percent, which in the county committee’s eyes was virtually a tie. A Democratic Primary will be held on September 15. “I’m coming in with new ideas,” says Wompa. “I think I am someone who can transcend differences in the community. I have worked as a village trustee. I can see that people in the village need support. I am here to relieve the burden.”

Wompa is currently serving her first term on the Sleepy Hollow Board of Trustees. She worked as a healthcare revenue cycle consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers for three years and was a project manager and financial and clinical systems analyst at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Wompa says her experience in health care could go a long way in making health care affordable to residents in District 8.

Wompa has received endorsements from Tom Abinanti, legislator of District 12, as well as the mayors of Tarrytown, Elmsford, and Sleepy Hollow; Drew Fixell, Robert Williams, and Ken Wray, respectively.  Wompa had nothing but kind things to say about her opponent. “Alfreda is a lovely person. She’s put in 16 years of public service and I respect her for all she has done.”

When asked about Wompa running, Williams said: “It is a free country, but I feel like I am the best candidate.”
The Democrats are not the only ones vying for the sought after District 8 office. Tom Bock, a Greenburgh resident and systems administrator for a software company, has been endorsed by the Republican Party and claims a large support base. He loathes the direction county government has taken and on a blog on his campaign website asserts Westchester is undergoing a socialist rule. He plans to work on affordable housing and tax reduction if elected county legislator.

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