It's been two years already since he was first elected, and 6th District County Legislator David Gelfarb is facing a challenge on Election Day, Nov. 5, from Mark Jaffe, president and CEO of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce.
Gelfarb, 53, a Rye Town Councilman for four years before winning election to the county seat in 2011, lives in Rye Brook and also served as president of the BelleFair Homeowners Association for two years. He has been an attorney with Moss & Kalish, PLLC in New York City for 20 years, specializing in civil litigation and business planning.
Gelfarb is running on the Republican and Conservative lines while Jaffe is seeking election on the Democratic, Working Families and Independence lines.
Jaffe, 57, an attorney and Democratic district leader in Harrison, has been in his current position for 12 years. He previously ran his own marketing company with 100 employees.
Jaffe, who calls himself an independent Democrat, ran unsuccessfully for Harrison Town Councilman in 2009, losing by 21 votes. In 2010 he ran in the Democratic primary for New York State Assemblyman and lost to Tom Roach. Two years ago he lost the Democratic primary for 6th District County Legislator to Port Chester Trustee Dan Brakewood who in turn lost the election to Gelfarb.
The 6th District represents Port Chester, Rye Brook and parts of Harrison.
Both candidates are concerned about keeping taxes down and bringing jobs and growth to the area.
"The best way to do it is to continue to watch spending," said Gelfarb, who feels he is more experienced with six years of governmental experience under his belt.
"I have a better background in fiscal management and will work harder and be a better legislator," countered Jaffe. "I also have a background working at the Chamber of Commerce with agencies, small business owners, not-for-profits and civic groups to solve complicated issues. Right now we have some complicated issues facing our district."
For example, referring to the affordable housing settlement, he said he would be able to "work with Harrison to solve the home rule issue and work with the White House to make sure we're not losing tens of millions of dollars [in Community Development Block Grants] for Port Chester and Rye Brook. I don't think it's all or nothing."
"I don't like the town where my daughter goes to high school being deemed racist," Jaffe said. "That is just negotiations gone astray. We need a better negotiator. I believe I'm that candidate."
"I'm very concerned about the impact of the airport on my area," said Gelfarb. "I support Sustainable Playland. It will benefit young people and seniors. It's a good plan. I support what Rob Astorino has been doing the last two years to watch over taxes, have employees pay into their health insurance plan and continue to provide services."
"My opponent rambles and rambles," said Gelfarb. "I don't really know what he thinks."
Agreeing with his opponent on the housing settlement, Gelfarb strongly opposes "any attempt by the federal monitor or HUD to tag Harrison with the label of a town that engages in exclusionary zoning or has practiced such a thing."
As county legislator the last two years, Gelfarb said he has most enjoyed "just seeing what a terrific workforce we have and the breadth and depth of services we provide." It has also been rewarding "to go out into the community and to honor the people in the community who have contributed a lot-from the NAACP, to firefighters, to religious institutions and recognizing the people who make our communities thrive."
Keeping taxes flat with the increasing stress for mandated spending, having a smooth and harmonious labor relationship with the county's biggest union, the CSEA, continuing to work to bring Playland into the 21st century and maintaining services at the airport while containing growth and expansion are priorities for Gelfarb.
In addition, he will continue to defend the interests of Rye Brook and Harrison to make sure operators at the airport such as Signature and Landmark continue to pay property taxes. "I will fight very strongly against any claims that they do not have to pay property taxes," he said.
"Keeping taxes under control is critical," agreed Jaffe. "We have a rising time bomb we have to address-borrowing $48 million to balance the budget. We need to come up with a long-term solution for that problem."
He's in favor of Proposition 1 on the Nov. 5 ballot, the money from which would help fund education in the state and eventually perhaps allow Yonkers to become a full-fledged casino.
Looking at other sources of revenue, he said he has a plan and will fight for things to lower taxes.
Jaffe said he went to Washington a year ago to fight for the TIFIA loans that are being used to build the Tappan Zee Bridge. "We went down to the White House to advocate how important this project was. Working with different groups, we can get things done together," he concluded.
As county legislator, Gelfarb was able to secure a few thousand-dollar grant for the Town of Rye's Tools for Change program for local high school students and a $25,000 grant for Caritas at Holy Rosary Church in Port Chester to pay for the cook at their soup kitchen.
Jaffe and his wife Helana, whose middle name he said is "Harrison" and is active in the schools there, have a daughter Jordan who is a sophomore at Harrison High, a son Max, 22, who graduated from the University of Maryland at College Park and now works at 1010 WINS in New York City, and a son Alex, 23, who is finishing his Masters in Public Administration at Binghamton University. He said he and his wife are big proponents of public-private partnerships such as the one that allowed a new turf field with lights to be built in Harrison.
Gelfarb, who lost his beloved wife, Jacqueline Proner, in March 2012, also has three children. Daniel is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business, Lauren is a sophomore at Emory University and Allison is a freshman at Blind Brook High School.