Mamaroneck Day Labor Becomes Issue in GOP Primary Race

by Judy Silberstein

With a Republican primary vote fast approaching, a candidate vying to represent the GOP in the US Congress is weighing in on the issue of Mamaroneck’s day laborers. The primary, set for September 14, has received very little local notice, whereas considerable attention is being paid to the day laborers.

The Primary: September 14
Jim Russell
Jim Russell

 

GOP Candidates in 18th Congressional District Primary
Richard Hoffman
Richard Hoffman

Nita Lowey
The primary winner will face incumbent Congresswoman Democrat Nita Lowey in November.

All polling places will be open on Tuesday, September 14, from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm in the Town of Mamaroneck’s 28 voting districts, although the only contests are to represent the Republicans in the race for the 18th US Congressional District that includes Larchmont and Mamaroneck, and for members of the Westchester County Conservative Party Committee. According to the Westchester Board of Elections, there are 4953 Republicans and 135 Conservatives registered in the Town, and they are the only ones eligible to vote in this primary.

A light turnout is likely, though Town Clerk Pat DiCioccio views the primary as practice for the November election when “We should have a turnout like no one has ever seen before,” she said.

For more information on the primary and the general election, check the Larchmont/Mamaroneck League of Women Voters website.

The Day Labor Issue & the Candidates:

The candidate weighing in on the day labor issue is Jim Russell, ( See: www.russellforcongress.com/) from Hawthorne, who is running against Richard Hoffman (www.hoffman2004.com/), from Yonkers, for the right to face the incumbent since 1988, Democrat Nita Lowey, from Rye (www.house.gov/lowey/) in November. On Tuesday, September 7, he issued a press release calling for “legislation which would require local and county police to enforce federal immigration laws.”

Mr. Russell, now a computer consultant, describes himself as a former computer programmer and network administrator with AT&T who retired after being laid off. He “places much of the responsibility for local illegal alien problems on current Congresswoman Nita Lowey’s liberal immigration policy,” and said, “It’s about time that the rights of law-abiding, tax-paying citizens be placed above the interests of illegal aliens and the law-breakers who hire them.”

His GOP opponent, Richard Hoffman, most recently a portfolio manager for an international bank in Manhattan, responded: "I would be the first to say that our immigration policy needs an overhauling. I support our President in his work to find a solution to this complex problem. It seems to me that all would be well advised to tone down the rhetoric and offer, in a more dispassionate tone, their solutions to this problem."

A spokeswoman for Nita Lowey issued the following statement: “Congresswoman Lowey agrees it is critical to enforce local quality of life laws while also providing a way for people who want to work hard and play by the rules to do so. It seems that local advocates and the Village of Mamaroneck are working toward a solution that preserves public order and safety and Congresswoman Lowey supports those efforts.”

Day Labor & Response to Police Activity in Columbus Park

Mr. Russell was responding to plans for what he calls “a hiring site for illegal aliens in Mamaroneck.” In early June, Village of Mamaroneck Mayor Trifiletti announced that the board was in the process of designating a parcel of village-owned property as an official day laborer site. (See: Official Day Labor Site In the Works). However, those plans were set aside following a June 28 board meeting in which concerns were raised about the specific location Fayette Avenue, and the general concept. (See: Alternate Site for Day Labor Facility?)

More recently, the Journal News reported on a late-August ticketing campaign by Village of Mamaroneck police against vehicle violations committed by prospective employers showing up at Columbus Park, where day laborers have long gathered in search of potential employment. When police activity scared away the employers – and the jobs – advocates for the day laborers met with officials to see if it was possible to balance safety and quality of life issues with employment.

As Bob Degan, chair of the Tri-municipal Human Rights Commission makes clear in a commentary published in the Gazette, the police were not targeting the day laborers, but the effect was a drop in work availability. Mr. Degan attended a September 1 meeting between Mayor Trifiletti and advocates for Hispanic immigrants after which a smaller, safer temporary spot was set up in Columbus Park for laborers to congregate. There is new signage and police are directing employers to the new spot, according to the mayor.

There will be continuing conversations about how to respond in the future and how to involve neighboring communities the day labor situation, which officials view as having both burdens and benefits for local municipalities, businesses and residents. Conversations will be sought with Town of Mamaroneck Supervisor Valerie O’Keeffe and Village of Larchmont Mayor Ken Bialo.

 

 

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