Thirty percent of Westchester County residents who participated in a Marist poll said taxes should be the top priority for the next county executive. Twenty-one percent said jobs, 19 percent said education and 12 percent said economic development is the most important issue to address.
Other issues figured less prominently among residents. Seven percent said housing should be the at top of the next county executive’s to-do list, 4 percent said poverty, 3 percent said crime, 3 percent said transportation, less than 1 percent said race relations, and less than 1 percent said another issue should be the priority.
Marist College, which is in Poughkeepsie, released the poll during last night’s debate between Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican, and his Democratic opponent, Noam Bramson, mayor of New Rochelle. The election is Nov. 5. Marist did the poll in conjunction with the Business Council of Westchester County.
The college polled 577 adults (including 375 homeowners and 481 registered voters) by phone Sept. 23 and Sept. 24. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.
The Marist poll found that county residents are split on whether property taxes and local fees are fair. Half of those polled said they are not fair and 48 percent said they are. Two percent were not sure. When broken down to homeowners only, 60 percent said the amount they pay is not fair based on the local services they receive, 38 percent said the cost is fair. The rest were unsure.
More than six in ten adults — 63 percent — said they think the county’s economy is on a steady course. Twenty-one percent said it has improved and 16 percent said it has gotten worse. That contrasts with a Marist/Business Council poll three years ago in which 55 percent said the economy was status quo, 12 percent said it had gotten better and 33 percent thought it had deteriorated.
Nearly two-thirds of county residents — 64 percent — said Westchester is moving in the right direction. Twenty-four percent said it’s going in the wrong direction and 12 percent said they aren’t sure. Results were similar among the registered voters.
Ninety-one percent of residents gave their neighborhoods high scores — 51 percent said their neighborhoods are an excellent place to live and 40 percent said they are a good place to live. The satisfaction rate drops when broken down by race. Ninety-six percent of white residents said their neighborhood is an excellent or good place to live, compared to 88 percent of Hispanics and 68 percent of blacks.
But 69 percent of respondents said the county is not affordable for the average family.