Rockland County Legislature candidate York Kleinhandler kicked off his campaign Monday night at O’Malley’s restaurant on Main Street in Nyack. The event served as a fundraiser for the campaign, charging $69 for Republican committee members and $79 for everyone else.
Kleinhandler has been endorsed by the county’s Republican, Conservative, and Independent parties. He will be running in District 10 against incumbent Democrat Harriet Cornell, current chairwoman of the Legislature.
District 10 represents Upper Nyack, the Village of Nyack, and the majority of West Nyack, along with parts of Valley Cottage and New City.
Cornell first became a legislator in 1984 and has been the chairwoman since 2005. Kleinhandler, on the other hand, is a relative newcomer to politics. His first foray into the political world came last year, when he ran for New York 17th Congressional District. He ran as a Conservative Party candidate but finished in third place in the election behind Democrat Eliot Engel and Republican Anthony Mele.
Before starting his foray into politics, Kleinhandler. served in the military for 31 years and is currently a Chief Warrant Officer 4 in the Army National Guard. He was awarded the Green Beret in 1996 and has spent two tours of duty in Afghanistan. Kleinhandler is also a former member of the United States Marshal Service.
He is a successful businessman as well, first becoming the COO of a life insurance agency in 2004 and then starting his own life insurance company in 2007. He currently serves as a consultant in the insurance and law enforcement fields.
In fact Kleinhandler feels his real-life experience will provide a fresh perspective compared to the political experience of his opponent.
“Experience is a lifetime of learning,” he stated. “I too have a great deal of experience, and all my experience is based upon real life. My experience is based upon combat. My experience is based upon 31 years in the military."
"My experience is based upon many years of a successful law enforcement career," he continued. "My experience is based upon many years as a successful business owner. So I too have a great deal of experience, and I have a different perspective and a different view. And I think in today’s climate we need new ideas, we need innovation, we need to change the way we do things.”
also hopes his business and military backgrounds will help him bring new approaches to local government.
“To run a successful business, you have to be very fiscally conscious, you have to have fiscal discipline,” he explained. “It’s all about keeping the bottom line lean. It’s all about maximizing the use of the money you have. It’s all about keeping your static costs low. That’s what I will bring."
Kleinhandler said, "I will bring a fresh eye and a fresh perspective with a business eye toward making sure that the county is not wasting money, that we’re utilizing the money to the maximum extent it can be utilized. My military background is 31 years of discipline …. It’s thinking outside the box and finding innovative solutions and ideas that others overlook.”
Another , Frank Sparaco, agreed with this sentiment. Sparaco is running for re-election to the County Legislature as a representative of District 11.
“I think that [Kleinhandler] would bring a breath of fresh air, fresh new ideas, because the current policies and the current leadership have failed us repeatedly year after year, and I think York as a combat veteran, as a small business owner, he’s exactly what this county needs to help put us in the right direction,” Sparaco said.
Another key component of Kleinhandler’s campaign is term limits.
“I think that it’s an honor and a privilege to represent the people, but it’s not a lifelong obligation,” he said. “What happens is, I believe that the longer people are there, the longer they start to develop that sense of, ‘I need to continue to be there,’ and they forget that they’re there to represent the people. So what they end up doing is they start worrying about winning their next election much more so than worrying about representing the people and doing what is best for the people. That’s why I’m a big proponent of term limits.”
During his speech at the fundraiser Kleinhandler outlined his basic economic goals for the county government.
“We need to realign our fiscal priorities, we need to eliminate waste, we need to balance the budget, and we definitely need to pay down the very, very large debt that the county currently holds,” he said.
He also emphasized that change in government is necessary for further development.
“We can’t be business as usual,” he continued. “We can’t have institutional memory. Institutional memory is a major problem, because institutional memory means we continue to do something the same way for 20 years. We don’t update, we don’t innovate, and innovation is what makes America great, and if we’re not innovators, we are failing ourselves.”
Many other Republican candidates came to the event to show their support for Kleinhandler. This included GOP candidate Diane Holland, who is running for Clarkstown Town Clerk against incumbent Justin Sweet, D-New City.
“He has common sense and good values, and that is what we need in our leaders today,” she said.
“We want to clean up the town to the extent we can,” added Clarkstown Town Supervisor candidate Ralph Sabatini. “… There are people that really shouldn’t be in office, and we’ve got to look very closely at that and make sure it doesn’t continue into the future.”
And Kleinhandler agreed in his speech that now is the time for change in the local government.
“The bottom line is, they’ve had their chance-now it’s ours.”