More than 60 potential new Rockland Republican Committee members submitted their petitions to the county Board of Elections last week.
“What we’re trying to do is save the Republican Party,” said Rockland Republican Academy spokesman Lawrence Stone, whose group organized the petition effort.
But not everyone agrees.
“First of all, they are not a recognized Republican committee,” Rockland County Republican Committee Chair Vincent Reda said.
Stone said paramount among the concerns of the prospective committee members was the number of unfilled committee seats in the county and frequency of cross-party endorsements especially on the democratic line. There are about 500 committee seats in Rockland and according to Stone about half of them are vacant. The next opportunity for Rockland Republicans to become committee members is in two years.
“We have a leadership in this county that has made the voters not even want to come out to vote,” Stone stated. “They’re disgusted with party politics.”
Reda disputed Stone’s statements. He said there are a number of vacant committee positions but not half. As the minority party in the county, Reda said cross endorsements of candidates by the Independence, Conservative and Working Families parties are needed.
Reda questioned why the prospective committee members only carried petitions for themselves and not for the party’s candidates for assembly, senate and congress. He said they did not approach the party committee chairs about their interest in becoming committee members.
Stone noted some current committee members have held their seats for 22 years and claimed they have consistently nominated the same candidates. He said the only way to stop that is to change the party leadership. After the September 13 state primary, the town Republican committees will hold reorganization meetings within 10 days to select their leadership and the county will hold its session within 20 days.
Stone is pleased with the response, which required hopeful committee and current committee members to sign a pledge. He said more than 100 people have signed the pledge.
“We have also recruited lots and lots of new faces to the party,” said the Stony Point resident.
Reda said the members of the group had previously tried to take over the Rockland Tea Party and Rally for America organizations and said some of them had been republicans for just two years.
Stone described the pledge that the committee candidates are asked to sign.
“It’s an initiative to rescue the Republican Party from irrelevancy,” he said. “This initiative is a really big deal.”
The pledge’s eight criteria include: Republicanism, Accountability, Honor, Loyalty, Fair Play, Communications Transparency and Allegiance.
Committee representatives Jean Black of Orangetown, Joseph Ciardullo of Clarkstown, Anthony Mele of Ramapo and Stone sent a letter to fellow committee representatives calling for a whole new slate of GOP leadership. This is an excerpt from the letter.
“We believe that 22 years of ineffective leadership has reduced our party’s relevancy. The erosion of Republican core principles led to the financial calamity we now have in Rockland County. What is the long term impact on the tax payer, when we no longer have an opposition party to challenge Democrats? The role of the opposition party is to protect the taxpayers from uncontested power of the majority over the minority. The party leadership has forgotten that they work for us and not the other way around. As a result, we are forced to take this less than conventional route to restore these principles by replacing the leadership.”
The group lists specific complaints against the current GOP leadership that they refer to as” indictments” on their website. The items include giving nominations without a party convention and suppressing candidate interviews.