Yonkers, NY — Saying it’s time to “make the City Council work for
Yonkers again,” Jim Castro-Blanco, a successful attorney, educator, business- and family man, announced today that he will seek the Republican nomination for Yonkers city council president. The post is currently held by one-term Democrat incumbent Chuck Lesnick.
A practicing corporate and financial attorney, Castro-Blanco believes his considerable experience as a prosecutor, teacher, administrator and community leader make him uniquely qualified and well prepared to lead the Yonkers City Council in what are clearly challenging times that demand new ideas and bold action.
“I love Yonkers. It’s my home; it’s where my wife and I have decided to raise our children; and it’s truly a special place for me and my family. Just like the people in my life I care the most about, I want the best for Yonkers: to see our city succeed, thrive and live up to its full potential. I want Yonkers to be a place where my kids want to raise their kids,” Castro-Blanco said.
“But Yonkers is not living up to its potential. We have come a long way from the dark days of financial control boards, racial segregation and civil unrest, but there is so much more we can achieve as a city. Over the past four years, under the council’s current leadership, progress has been stalled, opportunities have been squandered, and now people are starting to lose faith in the vision of a great city that has been promised to them for years. They’re losing faith because, despite the illustrious plans and the best intentions of many fine people who are currently serving in our city, no one has yet been able to fully deliver on that vision. I want to change that.”
Law and order. Public Safety. Equal justice. These aren’t clichés to Jim Castro-Blanco. They’re sacred principles that have inspired a career of protecting the innocent and administering punishment to those who would threaten them. Castro-Blanco, 49 is presently of counsel at the prestigious firm Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker, LLP. He is a former Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of New York where he prosecuted narcotics, money laundering and fraud cases. Castro-Blanco is also a member of the New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s Judicial Advisory Committee.
Himself the product of public schools and now with two public school children of his own, a well rounded and quality education has been the hallmark of Jim Castro-Blanco’s life. Education has helped him succeed from humble means and he strongly believes it is the entitlement of every child, especially the 24,000 children in the Yonkers Public School District. Castro-Blanco is presently an Adjunct Professor of Law at St. John’s University School of Law, where he also served as Associate Dean. Throughout his career, Jim has taught and mentored hundreds of students in high schools, colleges and law schools. Jim earned his B.A. from SUNY Albany and later a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School where he was Articles Editor of his Law Review.
Jim Castro-Blanco wants to help Yonkers succeed as City Council President because of what he holds most dear, his family. After all, they live in Yonkers and want the best for their city. Jim makes his home in northwest Yonkers with his wife Edie and their two children Kelly, age 10, and Michael, age 8. Both children are students in the Yonkers Public School District at the PEARLS Hawthorne School.
Jim Castro-Blanco is involved in numerous community, nonprofit and charitable organizations including, the Colts Club of Yonkers, Yonkers Puerto Rican/Hispanic Day Parade Foundation, the Alice T. Haviland Foundation, Practicing Attorneys for Law Students, and the Westchester County Board of Elections Hispanic Advisory Board. Jim and his family attend St. Anthony’s Church on Nepperhan Avenue.
If he receives his party’s nomination, Jim Castro-Blanco will be the first Hispanic citywide candidate for either major party. Castro-Blanco has a proud Columbian heritage, his father hailing from Colombia. This is especially significant since nearly one-third of Yonkers’ population is Hispanic (source: United States Census Bureau, 2005-2007 American Community Survey Estimates; Bureau of Labor Statistics) and more than two-thirds of the student population in the Yonkers Public School District are Hispanic (source: Yonkers Public Schools website).
“I intend to be a voice and advocate for all the people of Yonkers, but to the extent that my candidacy can enfranchise our city’s considerable Latino population, I think that’s important. We should be trying to involve more people in the political process, not less. After all, it’s our collective future that’s at stake and everyone should feel like they’re part of getting us there,” Castro-Blanco said.
Jim Castro-Blanco has been an active member of the Yonkers community for several years and has participated in local politics through various positions with the Yonkers Republican City Committee. But this will be Castro-Blanco’s first attempt at public office. Why now? Jim says, “I can’t sit on the sidelines while our city’s future is being put in jeopardy by a lack of decisive leadership and action in the City Council on the things that matter most.” Jim Castro-Blanco promises bold action to meet Yonkers most pressing challenges.
“In most people’s minds, Yonkers’ problem is that we’re big on plans and talk but short on action and follow through. The main problem is in a City Council that takes too long to do anything,” says Castro-Blanco. “I can’t remember a time when the City Council wasn’t mired in some kind of public controversy: budget fights, development wrangles, political bickering. The council needs a strong leader with a bold agenda for our city—someone who can think big, and then deliver.”
Getting Yonkers economy moving & shoring up its budget: “Without a doubt, our city’s biggest challenge is weathering the current economic crisis. It is not about downsizing our government, it is about right sizing our government. We need to be looking at way we can spend less without sacrificing core services. The City Council needs new leadership to stand up to special interests that get in the way of real reform, and then will set priorities that will grow our economy and our tax base to ensure our long term stability.”
“Let’s face it: taxes are too high,” asserts Castro-Blanco. “One thing we can’t afford to do is solve our financial problems on the backs of our already over-burdened property taxpayers. Budgeting is about setting priorities, and my top priority is the Yonkers taxpayer.”
An experienced prosecutor, Jim Castro-Blanco will bring his law and order expertise to the Yonkers City Council. He’ll make sure that the Yonkers Police Department has the tools it needs to keep Yonkers residents safe, including the one thing it needs most: more police officers. “Yonkers needs more police officers; that’s a fact. More police officers means more cops on the beat in our neighborhoods and reducing the millions of dollars our city spends on police overtime, which is killing our budget,” said Castro-Blanco.
With two children in the Yonkers Public School District, ensuring a quality public education for all Yonkers children will be a top priority for Jim Castro-Blanco. “I’m a big believer in the Yonkers Public Schools,” says Castro-Blanco. “There are great things happening in our schools everyday. But while many of our schools are succeeding at ve
ry high levels, too many of them are underperforming. As council president, I will use my passion for public education to make sure that every school in every neighborhood is providing our children with the best opportunities to succeed.”
2009 is a mid-term local election year in Yonkers that will see elections in half of the City Council’s six district seats as well as an election for City Council president, each of which are four year terms.
In Yonkers, the position of city council president is the council’s only at large member and is elected by the entire city, not by fellow councilmembers. The council president is one of seven voting members of the City Council, but is charged with many special powers and duties including administering the City Council’s legislative agenda; scheduling council meetings, committee meetings, and special sessions; establishing and assigning fellow councilmembers to committees.
No power is more significant than the council president’s ability to move forward or to block key pieces of legislation, a power Castro-Blanco says has been “utterly misused and bungled by the current incumbent.”
Jim Castro-Blanco is coming out of the gate strong. He has already assembled a veteran team of campaign consultants and fundraisers that will ensure a successful campaign.
Jim Castro-Blanco’s campaign has retained Washington DC based the polling company™ as its survey and research firm. the polling company™, inc. is a nationally-regarded primary research and consulting firm with offices in DC and New York City. Established in 1995, the polling company™ has a track record with a broad base of clients that have sought research and counsel on a variety of projects, by offering a wide range of primary and secondary, quantitative and qualitative consumer-centric research services, including polls, focus groups, media management, and alternative, cutting-edge research technologies. the polling company™ founder and principal, Kellyanne Conway, is a 20-year veteran researcher and qualitative and quantitative analyst. She was recognized as the most accurate predictor of the 2004 elections and received The Washington Post’s “Crystal Ball” award. She is also co-author of WHAT WOMEN REALLY WANT: How American Women Are Quietly Erasing Political, Racial, Class, and Religious Lines to Change the Way We Live (Free Press, 2005). The book has met with critical acclaim for its ability to distill complex data into memorable message points, acronyms, and phrases.
George Hudak, founder of Connecticut based Digiworks Media and formerly of Image Makers Advertising & Design, will serve as the campaign’s media consultant. A veteran of numerous successful local campaigns including District Attorney Janet DiFiore and Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone, State Senator Jeff Klein, State Assemblyman Mike Spano and former State Senator Nick Spano. George Hudak specializes in multimedia productions, image and branding development, having produced and directed TV commercials featuring Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg. His achievements have earned him the prestigious CLIO Award, the ADDY Award, a Cine Golden Eagle, a Gold Medal from the New York Film Festival, and a Silver Award from the Chicago Film Festival, Pollie Award from American Association of Political Consultants.
Jim Castro-Blanco’s campaign finance team includes many Yonkers business and community leaders. The campaign Treasurer is Maricelly Velez-Delgado, an experienced professional who worked closely with Governor Pataki during his 2002 re-election effort. Noted national fundraiser Christina Sophia Comer’s team will be spearheading much of Jim’s fundraising outreach. Several meet and greets and other fundraising events are already scheduled for February and March.