New York is making headlines in Jewish communities throughout New York with local and state officials from both parties singling out religious neighborhoods with negative remarks and actions that made many residents angry.
In the area of Rockland County, which includes Monsey, Suffern and Spring Valley, the Republican leadership faced criticism over an anti-Semitic video in the spring of 2009 and then the following Hanukkah, the attack on a home shul made headlines around the world.
Governor Cuomo also singled out the area for its high coronavirus numbers.
Then came Election Night 2020. The New York Republican and Conservative Parties had dismal results, resulting in super Dem. majorities in both the Assembly and State Senate. However, Rockland County turned out to be a BIG winner!
Jews in Rockland County did something smart. They realized that power starts locally. They joined forces to educate the Jews to learn the issues, register to vote and get involved in the campaign of Michael Lawler. Michael Lawler won his campaign and is the only new Assemblyman in Albany.
I recently interviewed Lawler, who I knew through his work within the New York State GOP. He was excited about going to Albany and getting his voice out there to discuss the issues so important to New Yorkers as we see a mass exodus and growing tensions throughout the state.
C: Michael, Congratulations-- your win was amazing for New York. Why do you think you won when so many lost?
ML: First of all, I ran a positive campaign. People are tired of the attacks and negativity. I ran on the issues all New Yorkers agree about, even many independents and moderate Democrats, if there are any left. People want good paying jobs, quality education, access to good and affordable healthcare, safe neighborhoods and working together as a neighborhood.
C: You faced the challenge of bringing the Jewish community together to support you after the video incident last year, yet you won them over. I can personally share that many told me how proud they were to support you and now consider you a friend.
M: Like I said at the start of my campaign, I was going to reach out to each and every community in Rockland County and I did just that. I took the time to meet with residents from all around my district and speak with them about the issues they care about. We also had a strong outreach campaign driven by engaged residents across Rockland County who wanted a change of leadership in the State Assembly.
C: Tell me more about your win, because there are many local races in 2021 and other GOP candidates can learn from your strategy.
M: We won our race because we built a strong coalition and executed our plan from day one.
By reaching out to each and every community in Rockland County and sharing our message of support for law enforcement, fighting for property tax cuts, and fixing the broken state school aid formula, we were able to bring together people of all backgrounds to support our campaign.
With a strong voter contact program, mail plan, and paid media plan, we were able to build towards a resounding victory in a 2-to-1 Democratic district in a Presidential year, representing the only blue-to-red flip in the State Assembly.
“I’m proud of what we accomplished and look forward to serving all the residents of the 97th Assembly District."
C: What are your thoughts on dividing New York into two states?
M: First and foremost, I think it’s important to address the fact that Upstate residents who support a NY two-state solution have valid concerns about the way the state government has been run, especially with its NYC-heavy focus.
That being said, I believe our state is better together. We should work through our political and ideological differences and put forth what’s best for all of our state’s residents, not just one region. That means bringing decision-makers from Bridgeport to Buffalo together to address the needs and concerns of our state’s residents."
Lawler will represent the 97th Assembly District, which encompasses the town of Orangetown and parts of the town of Ramapo.
He is a lifelong Rockland County resident and graduate of Suffern High School. In 2009, Mike earned a degree in Business Administration, with a double major in Accounting and Finance, from Manhattan College, where he was named the Valedictorian of his graduating class.
Prior to his election to the State Assembly, Michael served as Deputy Town Supervisor of Orangetown under Supervisor Teresa Kenny and former Supervisor Chris Day, where he spearheaded key projects and worked hard to improve the lives of Orangetown residents.
Previously, Mike served as a senior advisor to Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, where he dealt with issues ranging from the county budget to public policy and community outreach initiatives. His contributions were essential in balancing the budget and holding property taxes in check.
Lawler served as Executive Director of the State Republican Party prior to joining the Westchester County Executive’s office. He and his wife, Doina, live in Pearl River. Doina recently became an American citizen, after immigrating to the United States from Moldova.
Jews should become more involved in their local elections and speak up on the issues that concern them. Jewish Vote GOP educates Jews from all religious affiliations and communtites. On Tuesday, December 22nd, we will be hosting Texas GOP Chair, Allen West, via Zoom. You can join by emailing [email protected].