The reelection campaign of Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican, is picking up the intensity of attacks against his Democratic rival, New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson, with a new commercial and repeated press releases attacking Bramson over his healthcare benefit from the city.
The Astorino campaign is accusing Bramson of accepting “healthcare for life” that is available after five years on the job, calling it a racket and a bonanza. Bramson was elected to the New Rochelle City Council in 1996.
“Westchester taxpayers have a right to know what Noam Bramson has been up to as part-time mayor of New Rochelle,” said Astorino spokeswoman Jessica Proud. “We knew he gave himself a 40% pay raise; we knew he raised property taxes 109% as a New Rochelle office holder, but now we learn that taxpayers will be covering the vast majority of his health care costs for the rest of his natural life. That is preposterous in this day and age, and Mr. Bramson needs to do something about it.”
Barry Caro, a spokesman for the Bramson campaign, said for several years he has voluntarily contributed 18 percent of the cost of health premiums, the rate that applies to most city employees, though because of his tenure he is not required to. The contributions make the point that he doesn’t deserve special treatment, he said.
“With his administration and campaign floundering this week, it’s no wonder that Republican Rob Astorino is desperately grasping at straws like this,” Caro said.
According to the city, officials who leave office must pay their full premium until the minimum retirement age of 55. Then their contribution is based on their hire date. Retired officials are responsible for 65 percent of the cost of coverage for other family members.
Astorino’s new campaign commercial, his third, zeros in on New Rochelle, leaving the impression that residents around the city are complaining about the mayor and attacking Bramson’s record on taxes. It has the tagline, “Westchester just can’t afford Noam Bramson.”
In response, Caro said Bramson was reelected mayor with nearly 80 percent of the vote, nearly twice the support Astorino got in the city. The ad cherry picks numbers out of context from Bramson’s many years in office, he said.
“The people of New Rochelle as a whole are very supportive of Noam Bramson’s great record,” he said.