Incumbent Yonkers Police Benevolent Association President Det. Keith Olson is being challenged by YPD Det. Robert Santobello for the office of president. Both recognize each others’ competitive spirit and that it may not be simple to face the competitor’s capacity to be as determined and resolute as their opponent. A face-off before the PBA membership will ignite passions and concern over the most recent two-year term in office under the aegis of Olson or it may not; it may simply not be a point of contention. The most pertinent concerns revolve about concessions over 207c, costs to lobbyists, costs for legal representation, among other legal concerns.
No matter the concerns, each will have learned that what people think of them really does matter. As in other sectors of society, looks, personality, respect and acknowledgment of others matters. Will the 800-pound gorilla on Election Day, January 28, 2016, be eclipsed by political intrusion or by the aspirations of the PBA membership? Who will be in charge of the outcome?
It seems as though Yonkers City Hall has left both contestants to their own devises, removing themselves from the situation so as not to be perceived as intrusive or coercing the outcome one way or another. Yonkers City Hall has yet to resolve their leaning toward one or the other; both candidates have gained and earned respect from Yonkers’ political hierarchy. City Hall is testing each man their resolve to maintain or accede to office. It is Yonkers City Hall’s reluctance to publicly back Olson that has given rise to the write-in challenge revealed by Santobello.
Yonkers City Hall created a fall guy in Olson when they pushed for a long overdue union contract that was sold as if manna from heaven only to be found wanting after acceptance of the contract by the PBA membership at the behest of Olson.
Will the history created under Olson’s presidency win him re-election, or will his guidance and direction with respect to cajoling the PBA membership to approve the contractual agreement with City Hall be accepted as the only option available at that time, and thereby not diminish Olson’s prospect for re-election? There are other concerns. Will they rise to the consciousness of the PBA members’ mind or not? Those who recognize relevance to other concerns are sure to slam Olson if so moved. It does seem as though Olson is encrusted with real or perceived scandal.
Can either candidate initiate a more cohesive environment for Yonkers Police Officers under their auspices as PBA president? Can morale be raised? Can a change in leadership bring best effort among the PBA leadership and its membership? Can rogues running roughshod over the membership cease to be tolerated?
Will the PBA membership demand leadership requiring responsibly of the elected winner by the eventual president underwriting, proposing, and promoting issues that benefit the membership and the residents of Yonkers? Can a PBA president become a uniting figure?
Can the Yonkers PBA under either of these candidates bring about a culture where politics, and self-serving conduct is anathema to the environment under which people want to be working? Can professionalism be acknowledged and respected? Will retribution come to an end?
The upcoming election for PBA president is an opportunity to cast aside past dysfunction with the PBA and the YPD so that working conditions are respectful of one another and where the effort of policing conforms to standards acceptable throughout the nation?
The election outcome for Yonkers PBA President will reveal the direction Yonkers will choose for its police department; it will also engrave a stamp worthy of approval by the Yonkers PBA or if not, it will continue to garner disapproval and lose trust among Yonkers’ residents.