Over the past two months, my campaign for Rockland County Executive has come to your living rooms, on TV, and in your mailboxes. You have also likely read about my recent errant texting. This has put me and my campaign in the spotlight.
Who is Dagan Lacorte? Where did he come from? How did he raise $375,000 for his campaign for Rockland County Executive? Can he be trusted based on his recent campaign tactics? And most importantly, what kind of leader will he be as County Executive? Since the stakes of this election are so high, you deserve to hear the answers to these questions directly from me.
I am one of four sons of Marni and Michael Lacorte, a teacher of the hearing impaired and a Pediatric Cardiologist respectively. Helping others was always a central discussion around our dinner table. I grew up in Nassau County and graduated from Union College and NYU School of Law. I own a financial services firm in Suffern and am the proud husband of my college sweetheart, Stacy and the father of two little girls. Stacy and I chose Rockland because we believe it’s a beautiful and diverse county. We are committed to raising our family here. This is our home.
I am a proud volunteer of many local community groups. I have volunteered for Suffern DARE hockey, Meals on Wheels, been a board member of the Arts Council of Rockland and am currently on the board of the Vincent Crotty Foundation.
I am a reform Jew and member of Temple Beth El in Spring Valley but my family also enjoys a close friendship with the wonderful people of Chabad of Suffern. More than anywhere else in New York, community-outreach in Rockland is essential across all religions and sects to bridge the divide and help us to embrace our unique diversity.
I am also Suffern's two-term Mayor; an experienced executive who has kept taxes below the property tax cap. Working with a bi-partisan board, we have reduced our full time payroll without layoffs, lowered our debt service while investing millions of dollars in infrastructure. Through grants we have invested millions of dollars in downtown revitalization, including a multi-year façade program, at no cost to taxpayers. And this year, Suffern will see $50 million of outside economic investment in our downtown that will expand our tax base and support our local economy.
As Mayor, I refused the perks some previous administrations enjoyed, froze my own pay, exposed corruption, and rejected political patronage. I kept and continue to have members of the opposite party in key administration positions because they do a good job and serve the people of Suffern well.
Over the past few months, I have worked hard to win the trust and support of the business community and Labor helping me to accumulate the resources to take on the entrenched political establishment. My supporters believe my record of effective executive leadership independent of the political establishment, are the right combination to lead Rockland forward.
I am the only candidate seeking this office that has not served on the County Legislature and did not vote for the 2007 County budget that the Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress White Paper called "irrational." I am also the only Democratic candidate who has not received multiple government paychecks at once.
Here are my answers to many of the questions that are important to this campaign. I have nothing to hide and will answer any question I am asked.
You are from Ramapo, home of the "bloc vote." Can you represent the entire county?
Since Christopher St. Lawrence vigorously opposes my campaign, it's clear I am independent of the Ramapo machine. I am running to represent all of the over-taxed families of Rockland who have been abused by the decades of self-dealing of both political parties. I welcome the support of every voter based on my commitment to stop Rockland's march to bankruptcy.
Our campaign will continue to visit churches, mosques, synagogues and yeshivas as we strive to unite Rockland. I ask for your consideration whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Haitian, Hasidic, LGBT, from New City, Stony Point or Nyack, a longtime Rockland resident or a newcomer. We are one Rockland.
I oppose the Patrick Farm development not because of who might live there, but because it is the overdevelopment of an environmentally sensitive site. However, every election in Rockland cannot be a referendum on the Hasidim. Our county is broke and I will not spend nine months debating Ramapo's zoning.
Former Assemblyman Ryan Karben has financially supported your campaign. Are you independent of Karben and will he have a role in your administration?
Ryan Karben has been my friend for a decade. I appreciate his support and the perspective he gained from his years in Rockland politics. He is one of over 350 of our donors ranging from senior citizens on a fixed income, to business leaders who support this campaign because they believe we need to solve our fiscal woes. Ryan Karben will not be a part of my administration. However, I will not disavow my friends.
Your campaign has been in the news with your errant text message. What have you learned from this mistake?
I am sorry for my mistake and ask you not to judge me by my worst moments. I aspire to run a campaign that will make you proud. In my zeal to seek the answers from others that I have offered here, I suggested the use of tactics that are wrong. I have made mistakes in my life. When I do, I admit them and learn from them. I cannot promise you perfection but that I will be 100% committed to making Rockland County an affordable place to work, retire, or raise a family.
This campaign is about a choice between independent, progressive leadership that has a demonstrated record of accomplishment versus the status quo. I will point out the fact that I'm the only candidate with a plan to get our county’s fiscal house in order. The other candidates have offered no plan other than salary cutting gimmicks that will reduce our deficit by less than 1/4 of one percent or the notion that “I broke it so I'm the only one who can fix it.”
What are your plans to fix Rockland’s budget crisis?
- To consolidate Rockland’s sprawling government, reducing its 60 boards, commissions and departments by 25 percent.
- The existence of all agencies not required by the County Charter must be evaluated.
- I will cut the millions wasted on outside contractors, and flatten the bloated management structure. The county should not be paying private landlords rent for services that can be housed in public buildings.
- No more contracts without merit selection for politically-favored groups.
- I strongly endorse the Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress’ White Paper. However, I do not agree with the position of a politically elected comptroller.
- I will repeal the regressive $14 million energy tax. Making heating your home more expensive for seniors and families to cover up the county’s mistakes is unacceptable.
- My budget will be below the property tax cap during my first term.
- I will fire the county’s auditors and replace every current political appointee with budgetary responsibility.
- I will hire independent, nonpartisan professionals to identify savings, improve services and sell unneeded assets.
- I will appoint a professional planner to head the County Planning Department instead of politically connected engineers. We need to evaluate projects based on the impact they have on all the surrounding communities – the Route 202 corridor is a prime example.
- The county hospital must be sold. I will immediately begin the approval process for the hospital’s sale with the Department of Health and retain an interim operator to reduce its pre-sale losses.
- Services are provided best by those closest to the people. I will stop shifting the financial burden for the county’s mismanagement to towns and villages. I will pool resources with other municipalities for legal, engineering and other costly professional services.
- By the end of my first term I will increase sales tax revenue sharing with other local governments; Clarkstown does not receive their fair share of sales tax.
Do you share the progressive social views of most Democratic voters?
I am pro-choice. I support President Obama's DREAM Act, marriage equality, and Governor Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act. I oppose hydraulic fracking in New York and favor legalized, regulated marijuana. I oppose the United Water Desalination plant. Alone among the Democratic candidates, I support the Governor’s SAFE Act to curb gun violence.
Do you support state intervention in the clearly mismanaged East Ramapo School District?
The management of East Ramapo is an embarrassment. The present school board has damaged and divided this community beyond repair. Without state intervention, thousands of children will continue to have their futures subject to political and cultural battles they did not start and cannot end. I am the only candidate who has called upon the Commissioner of Education to immediately intervene to stop the destruction of the district and any chance a generation of mostly poor and minority children have of building a better future for themselves and their families.
I look forward to continuing to listen, learn and answer any and all questions on ALL the issues that Rocklanders deserve to have answered. Together, we can make Rockland Proud Again.