By Carol P. Bartold, Senior Reporter
Apr. 18, 2018: On Tuesday, April 24, Westchester County voters in State Senate District 37 will choose a senator to fill the seat vacated by George Latimer when he won the election for Westchester County executive in November of 2017. Bronxville, Tuckahoe, and Eastchester are among the communities within District 37.
Rye Councilwoman Julie Killian, Republican, is running against current Democratic New York State Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer for the State Senate seat. The outcome of this special election has the potential to determine whether Democrats or Republicans will control the 63-seat New York State Senate.
Killian hosted an informal coffee and conversation on Saturday, April 14, at Ernie’s Wine Bar + EATS in Bronxville to discuss her candidacy and the issues she feels are most important for the long-term quality of life in Westchester County.
“I think I can truly make a difference for Westchester,” Killian said. “That’s the biggest reason I’m running.” She added that her background in local government and community work have given her a practical perspective that New York State government needs.
Killian has served on the Rye City Council for six years, the last two as deputy mayor. She also founded a community coalition to educate and protect local young people from the dangers of drug abuse and heroin addiction. She ran against Latimer in 2016 for State Senate.
A vital part of Killian’s campaign has been walking district neighborhoods to talk with business people as well as residents. She noted that she has knocked on over 10,000 doors to learn about the issues most important to people and to discuss how she plans to work in Albany to address those concerns.
“Affordability and opportunities are what people want most to talk about,” Killian said. “People are scared. They have worked all their lives, can’t pay their property taxes, and they don’t know what to do. It’s truly heartbreaking.” The loss of the property tax deduction for federal income taxes, she said, is causing people to feel even more economic pressure.
Killian noted that a vibrant business community and the tax base it brings to the district are important foundations in helping establish the affordability and opportunities that residents need. “Companies are moving out of the area,” she said. “I hear the constant drumbeat of higher taxes and increasing regulation driving businesses away from the area.” While the state and county want that tax base, she commented, the state lures new businesses with tax incentives and ignores the burden of higher taxes placed on established businesses.
“We do not receive our fair share of state aid for schools in Westchester,” Killian stated. “We get the lowest per-student amount in the state.” Part of the reason, she feels, comes from the perception that Westchester County is a wealthy area. One of her goals is to examine county income patterns and determine how many Westchester students receive free lunches. She then intends to use that data to gain an equitable share for local schools by rewriting the formula used to calculate state aid.
“I am all about the practical issues that affect people’s everyday lives,” Killian said. She noted that this special election, with its short timeline, has called for a concentrated effort to effectively communicate her message.
Note: A call to candidate Shelley Mayer’s office seeking information on a possible campaign event in Bronxville has not been returned.
Pictured here: Julie Killian.
Photo by Carol P. Bartold