YONKERS, NY — October 7, 2021 — Ron Matten is running for Yonkers City Council President. When asked why he was running, he said he wanted “to be a check” on Mayor Mike Spano. Typical of everything Matten says, there is no there, there.
You see, when Spano took time off from running an employment agency for family and friends, appearing at photo-ops for the openings of delis and nail salons and allowing ever more high-rise gentrification of our waterfront, blocking access to, and views of, the Hudson River for local communities, he decided he was indispensable and needed to run for a third term. Yonkers voters had voted not once, but twice, to limit the mayor and city council members to two terms. That didn’t stop the mayor from ignoring the will of the voters and railroading through a change allowing elected officials to run for a third term.
I mention this because when Mr. Matten had a chance to actually “be a check” on the mayor’s appalling behavior, he supported him.
Ron Matten cites transparency as one of his prime objectives: it’s listed first on his web page. He says he’s a very “active member” of CHAT (Colonial Heights Association of Taxpayers), the least transparent community association in Yonkers. It doesn’t have a web site and all communication is channeled through a single gatekeeper (the wife of the Yonkers GOP 2nd Vice Chair; all community communication from CHAT comes from an email account with Robert Moffitt’s name on it) who ignores anything (anyone) she doesn’t agree with. CHAT has three annual “meetings” – a Christmas tree lighting and two wine-and-cheese gatherings. Discussions about community issues are discouraged at these events because of their social nature. CHAT has not held one online meeting for its members since before Covid. What, one might ask, is there to be “active” in?
CHAT supported turning over to Eastchester, control of a Westchester County Park. Scout Field County Park has two parts: the lower field is in Mt. Vernon and the upper field is in Yonkers. The giveaway was engineered by former County Legislator Gordon Burrows – a favorite of CHAT leaders. The mayor and all Yonkers city council members (including the Republicans) voted against this theft of county property. But not CHAT and not Ron Matten who was silent on the issue.
But guess who showed up at a cleanup at the park on September 12, 2020? Ron Matten! The cleanup was organized by Friends of Scout Field, a group of residents from Yonkers, Mt. Vernon, and Bronxville. They have been fighting for years to prevent an open space park used by local residents from being transformed into yet another soccer field, managed by and for Eastchester. Ron Matten, who never said or did a thing to support the group showed up because – actually, I have no idea why he was there. Maybe he figured just by being there he could fool people into thinking he was an advocate. He didn’t do any cleaning up. He did, however, try to get in a photo with George Latimer, other electeds and activists.
Ron Matten is banking on a crossover vote for his election and is in search of Democrats – voters like Bob Stauf, a Yonkers district leader, who is actively working on his campaign. Ron knocked on our door while canvassing the neighborhood on September 19th. He invoked Bob Stauf’s name to let my wife know that because Stauf is working on his campaign, it should mean that she could support him as well. When she said that didn’t sway her one bit, Matten’s response was “Well – you could not vote!” What an outrageous retort and suggestion – spoken like a true Republican, whose party is actively seeking to eliminate votes from citizens who do not vote Republican.
Ron Matten’s whole campaign is devoid of policy issues. “Unity” – “Lower Taxes” – “Safety” his website proclaims. His motto is “Let’s make change!” Yet he doesn’t say what he will change.
The only issue he’s fixated on is that our taxes are too high. He complains about the inadequate funding that Yonkers gets from the state for education, ignoring the fact that the school funding scheme was enacted by Republicans and favors GOP strongholds in upstate New York and Long Island. He fails to mention that it is the Democrats working to change this, while Republicans want to keep their unfair funding advantage.
What stands out about Matten’s candidacy is the lack of transparency. Interesting that nowhere does Matten say he is the Republican candidate for City Council President: not on his website, his campaign signs or his palm cards. He does his best to hide it. But not only is he a Republican, he is the assistant secretary of the Yonkers Republican Party. Perhaps he should replace his theme of “transparency” with “opaqueness.” Perhaps he should tell Yonkers voters that he supported Rob Astorino whose administration found every opportunity to hurt Yonkers.
Fred Polvere, a former national political columnist who now spends his days climbing, hiking and reading, reading, reading.