Prominent Attorney to Seek GOP Nod for Yonkers Council President

eHezi Archives 28 Comments

Yonkers, NY — Saying it’s time to “make the City Council work forCastro-Blanco Logo

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. 

eHeziProminent Attorney to Seek GOP Nod for Yonkers Council President

Comments 28

  1. New York Times
    February 1, 2009
    When Friends Aren’t Really Friends
    NANCY SHENKER wasn’t surprised when a local Westchester County politician asked to be her friend on Facebook. A marketing consultant for 20 years, she knows a lot of people. She consented, she says, because she liked his politics and liked him personally, that is, until he began poaching her Facebook friends — all 200 of them. Many said they received invitations to parties that turned out to be fund-raisers. Disgusted, Ms. Shenker de-friended the politician, a city councilman in a nearby town, whose name she declined to provide because she said she did not want to embarrass him. [editor’s note: politician referenced is Chuck Lesnick]
    “It would be like if I had a dinner party at my house, and he came in and started handing out campaign literature,” said Ms. Shenker, of Chappaqua.
    But it didn’t end there. Ms. Shenker bumped into the politician at a party, and he asked her why she had de-friended him. When she explained why, he apologized and promised to stop. Satisfied, Ms. Shenker once again allowed him into her Facebook circle, until he began poaching again. She de-friended him once again, for good.
    Politicians, from President Obama to small-town mayors, now use social networks like Facebook to expand their supporter base and communicate directly with people, especially Internet-savvy younger voters. Mr. Obama is credited with revolutionizing the strategy of using the Web to raise millions of dollars for campaigning.
    But fund-raising on Facebook, a site many use for play — in some cases, intimate play — raises a question of etiquette in the world of virtual communication: When is it acceptable for politicians to call someone a friend, when they actually are looking for support, both financial and political? Politicians can set up a regular account on Facebook, just like any teenager with endless lists of so-called friends who have access to each other’s personal posted information, or they can register as a politician, and their contacts are referred to as supporters.
    To list people as friends, when the Facebook user actually wants them as their supporters, is considered bad form by many users of Facebook, because they say it creates a sense of intimacy that may not really exist. Some politicians’ Facebook pages, while they purport to be personal, are actually monitored and run by staff members or volunteers.
    As Ms. Shenker puts it, “Don’t pretend you want to hang out with someone and then hit him or her up for money.”
    The phenomenon is no surprise, said Andrew Rasiej, founder of Personal Democracy Forum, which analyzes the use of technology by politicians. One page is authentic. The other reads like propaganda.
    “The more authentic a candidate can appear to his supporters, the more credible his or her message,” Mr. Rasiej said.
    New York State Assemblyman Greg Ball, whose district includes Westchester County, says he recently purchased several e-mail lists to draw people to his personal Facebook page, which he hopes to make one of the centerpieces in his campaign for Congress.
    Councilman Peter Cammarano of Hoboken, N.J., uses his personal page to join Facebook groups like Hoboken Young Professionals or Hoboken Lawyers Alliance. Once in, he posts notes on the group’s bulletin board alerting members to fund-raisers. He says it’s far more productive to find potential supporters that way than standing outside a ShopRite handing out fliers, where he does not know if the people he approaches even live in Hoboken.
    Supporters like being considered friends, both online and off. Making them feel important can foster the relationship, said Richard Zeoli, who is running for freeholder in Sussex County, N.J.
    “Look at the private dinner the new chief of staff hosted for the high-level donors and the V.I.P. access they received during the inauguration,” Mr. Zeoli said.
    But the technology is developing faster than the rules of etiquette. Most political operations know it’s not O.K. to phone people during dinner, but the rules for online engagement are yet to be established, said Scott Shields, a political consultant with White Horse Strategies L.L.C. in Rockaway, N.J. “Still, when you hear about things like what that Westchester politician did, it sets off alarm bells in people’s minds. It’s not something that would pass most people’s smell test,” Mr. Shields said.
    Of course, by drawing people to their personal Facebook pages, politicians are essentially invading their own privacy. They are limited in what they can post and must carefully screen their friends, knocking out those who post risqué photos or lewd messages.
    Bill Finch, the mayor of Bridgeport, Conn., said he was amazed at what people will say online. As a state senator, he had a Web site and was forced to shut down its blog because the discussions turned nasty, he said.
    “I don’t know if there are a lot of mental issues out there, but there are a lot of angry people who don’t know how to behave themselves,” Mr. Finch said.
    But politicians with personal pages on Facebook risk revealing too much, sometimes to their opponents. When Craig M. Johnson, an incumbent Democratic state senator from Long Island, ran for re-election in November, he was promised the Independence Party’s line, an advantage because it meant his name would appear twice on the ballot. To his surprise, a registered member of the Independence Party began circulating petitions seeking the ballot line herself. The senator’s staff looked at the Independence candidate’s Facebook page and saw she counted among her friends the son of Mr. Johnson’s Republican opponent, an indication his rival was behind the woman’s candidacy, Mr. Johnson said. In the end, the woman declined the nomination, and through a series of political machinations, the Republican candidate received the Independence line.
    “It was clearly a political play to get the party line,” Mr. Johnson said.
    But politicians using personal pages for outreach — particularly those already in office — may create disappointment if constituents mistakenly believe they have direct contact with their representative, and their correspondence goes unanswered.
    Staff members for Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts had just that concern when they set up a Web site for the governor, according to Christine Williams, a political science professor at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass. But Dr. Williams, who interviewed members of the governor’s staff for a research paper, said the site’s benefits outweighed that fear when a constituent posted a comment criticizing a town pedestrian walk sign, and the poster’s local alderman went on the site and responded. The two met to try to resolve the issue.
    But perhaps it is the politicians who are realizing there is a difference between real friends and supporters. Dr. Williams said that in the 2008 presidential primary, when a candidate withdrew from or lost a race, a significant number of people went online and rescinded their support.
    “De-friending, on personal Facebook pages, is not that common because of the embarrassment and anger it might generate,” she said. “But people do de-support political candidates.”

  2. amigone, you are an idiot!
    fleming doesn’t have enough clout to have a lapdog.
    don’t really know this castroblanco guy but if he is half of what the press says, welcome to yonkers politics!!!

  3. castro blanco doesn’t know john fleming:
    he is too busy practicing law….and since
    when does john fleming have any say in anything

  4. Must be one of Dee’s Fleas. Change is on the way. She’s done. Enough with these career politicians. Send them to the real world and see if they’ll survive.

  5. Dee Barbato has a lot of options due to her talent, experience, and passion to serve, not to mention her good reputation. She has a good horizon of her own making, and she has preserved very well her relationship with the Mayor. That bridge is quite strong, so whomever wants to post that “she’s pissed” is making this gutter politics, and would believe she’d react by supporting Lesnick? Sounds like something Lesnick’s staff would post. She’s far from any political gutter, and she doesn’t clamor after power. Dee, you’ll be fine, and we’ll always see great things from you in Yonkers.

  6. I guess Amicone has thrown Barbato under the republican bus. Love to see politicians fight among themselves, they are all useless and self promoting clowns.
    Thanks Fill, knew you would do it.

  7. If I were Dee Barbato I would be pissed off at Mayor Amicone for throwing his weight behind Castro-Blanco. He gets to use the Mayor’s fundraising and media team anfd has picked up the Mayor’s mantra “the council is moving to slow”. Lets see if the Mayor gets much assistancefrom Barbato and Lesnick on his budget this year.

  8. it is lesnick’s staff that is on this blog
    trying to undermine the castro-blanco story
    Lesnick has made a lot of enemies..employees
    a lot of political hacks and has a lot to
    be scared about. A new wind is blowing in
    yonkers..and it is not blowing at
    lesnick’s back

  9. ugh, no, it’s not all by the same individual. I’m a poster, just once in the above thread, and now twice. Sounds like someone is paranoid about losing the election. When all you do is stagecraft, and fluff your own nest for personal ambition, give HUGE RAISES TO YOU STAFF, well, yes, you are misusing your office and reveal weakness – not leadership.
    We need a change. I once supported Lesnick, but not now. Time fo change.

  10. I see it now: DA Candidate Tony Castro is supporting Council President Chuck Schorr Lesnick while DA Candidate Dan Schorr is supporting Council Candidate Jim Castro-Blanco. And off shore (Schorr) in Cuba Castro is supporting his brother Castro. What does Westchester’s first lady Brenda Resnick Spano have to say?

  11. The main problem is in a City Council that takes too long to do anything,” says Castro-Blanco.
    I guess he is going after Barbato first. Lets give him a chance.

  12. The very, very best of luck to you Jim and here is a sample campaign flyer from me to you, FREE of charge:
    Lesnick’s Slippery Do Nothing Campaign Lies:
    Promised on videotape he would ” Never, ever vote for Ridge Hill in any shape or form”. LIED.
    Promised to reform long standing FOIL abuses. LIED.
    Promised to audit all patronage jobs with salaries over $80K. LIED.
    Promised to downsize the city bloated auto fleet. LIED.
    Promised to watch city spending while giving exorbidant pay raises to his bloated staff far, far in excess of the customary 2-3% the rest of the world was getting–if they were lucky. LIED.
    Said Andrea’s Cousin’s unadvertised job interview with him was “Exploratory only” this one is such transparent b.s. that it would be actually funny if it were not so pathetic.
    Arch Stanton

  13. Yep. It’s goodbye to Barbato, unless she goes against term limits. Hopefully it’s the end of her and Lame also. Annabi nothing to say here.

  14. he has no political debts..he is a
    successful attorney in his own right
    he is a latino who can attract democrats
    and he won’t play the same old games

  15. A new face!!!!
    What a relief. Lets see if he can get some new council members as well. Looks like he has some good ideas. Hope he can make a difference. No more business as usual.

  16. I can’t wait to meet this fellow. I soooo want to see a replacement for the incumbent.
    Hezi, please post the whereabouts of any events he holds, so one can attend and show support. Thanks.

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