State Democrats today released their first attack ads of the gubernatorial race against Republican candidate Rob Astorino, knocking the Westchester County executive for a ongoing battle over affordable housing in the county.
Last week, Astorino said the county would forfeit $5.2 million in federal grants rather than comply with a 2009 fair-housing settlement.
“New York has a proud history of fighting discrimination,” one of the two television ads begins. “That’s why it’s shocking that Rob Astorino has repeatedly violated federal anti-discrimination laws for years. He’s the only county executive in the nation that refuses to comply.”
Both ads end with what may be the ongoing theme by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Democrats against Astorino: “Rob Astorino, so far right, he’s wrong for New York.”
Astorino has been critical of the housing settlement, which was agreed to before he took office. He has fought the requirement that landlords would be barred from discriminating based on the source of income for rent, such as using welfare or veterans’ benefits. Astorino has claimed that the decision also intrudes on local zoning laws.
The issue has already galvanized Democrats against Astorino as he now runs for governor. The Rev. Al Sharpton said he would lead civil-rights groups against Astorino over the issue, and Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson today at the Capitol ripped Astorino’s position.
“I’m embarrassed that my county has chosen to violate a discrimination law,” she told reporters, asking Astorino to comply.
Updated: Astorino spokeswoman Jessica Proud knocked the ads. Cuomo served as secretary of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development agency in the 1990s, and he lives in New Castle in Westchester County.
“We are so glad that Governor Cuomo is bringing this up. It begs the question: Where has he been for the past four years while HUD has been wrongly attacking Westchester communities, including Mr. Cuomo’s?” Proud said. “Does former HUD Secretary Cuomo think New Castle violates civil rights?”