My name is Deirdra O’Connor and I am running for Rockland County Executive as a write in. I am an action person who has the executive leadership skills and knowledge to work collaboratively with our leaders and communities to solve problems, as well as, implement visionary goals created together. I have chosen not to align with any political party or special interest group because I believe that is a big part of the problem in Rockland. System leaders understand that no one system operates in isolation and we are only as strong as our weakest link. Every town operates as an individual town but also as a part to the whole of Rockland County. All decisions in our towns affect each other and set precedents ex. established schools, zoning, and development, Eruv etc. We must start operating as a system and communicate more effectively as decisions are made that affect every town and community in Rockland.
Rockland has some serious issues to tackle and needs someone with a multidimensional bird’s eye view with systems and organizational leadership experience. Government is a systems leadership position. When systems are lead with integrity and transparency with the people then they show no prejudices or favoritisms. That’s not to say systems don’t have flaws because they do and can be easily manipulated when system’s leadership is not present. System leaders are trained and highly experienced at applying constitutional law, planning strategically with expert and community input, as well as, implementing strategies/ approaches that cut right through corruption by holding people accountable. I truly believe the lack of leadership within the East Ramapo school system was the catalyst for this situation that began years ago in Rockland. The Town of Ramapo’s comprehensive plan has also not been updated since 2004 and that’s totally unacceptable. Leadership needs to be held accountable to do their job. Besides the lack of an updated comprehension plan leaders also need to be able to implement strategic action plans that address current problems, or visionary ideas with the community by leveraging and utilizing the collective intelligences of the community (fire and police chiefs, school supts, county department heads, town, village and community leaders, and community input) This is not an us against them issue as many would have you believe in order to keep the divisiveness going. This is a lack of systems leadership on a town, school, state, and county level. These are serious equality issues that affect every person from every culture and background and once boundaries have been broken they are often difficult to reestablished, but it can be done. Listed below are some current equality issues that are concerns of the people of Rockland,and the way I will be approaching and addressing each issue:
Credibility of Our Schools:
I will be working side by side with police, fire chiefs, county sheriff and county department heads to identify schools that are not following health and safety codes and placing children in a dangerous situation. If they are not working towards improvement with urgency then I will be seeking to shut them down immediately. There’s not a single judge that will put a child back in an unsafe school. Schools and buildings where developers continue to build without the appropriate permits and approvals I will place a huge piece of county construction equipment on the property to get it to stop. This will then get the situation to court sooner than later. The NYS constitution is also very clear that no religion is allowed to go beyond customary or proper bounds or limits disregarding rules for the people or justify practices inconsistent with the peace and safety of the state.
Every school is expected to follow state and federal laws, as well as, safety and zoning requirements. Public and private education is responsible by law to provide an education that prepares students from every culture and background to live and work as contributing members of a global society, that follows federal and state IDEA law, response to intervention and least restrictive environment. Every private and public school must meet these requirements. Elected government officials must step up to the plate when state and federal laws are being broken and when safety requirements are being disregarded especially for our most vulnerable our children.
As Rockland County Executive I will invite school superintendents, chief school leaders, members of boards of education, teachers’ union presidents, police chiefs, fires chiefs, county sheriff, PTA leadership and state senators and representatives to be part of the process to ensure our schools in Rockland are following state and federal laws, as well as, town and county safety requirements. Every school needs to have a safety response plan for: evacuation lockdown, weather, fire etc. and be included in county evacuation plans, as well as, safety plans being submitted to local fire and police departments. Those schools that are not following state and federal education laws and not working towards following laws and safety requirements will be reported to NYS Education Department, Governor Cuomo, town and local leaders, state representatives with a plan of suggested action for improvement from an identified committee with; identified goals, desired outcomes, areas of strength, and deficit, as well, as funding and resources allocated on a state and federal level.
Eruvin: Equality, separation of church and state, equality and, freedom of religion
Eruvin: This issue is much more than a zoning violation and plastic poles and strings on utility poles. This is another significant equality issue. No corporation, or religion including mine can place an object religious or non-religious that requires or suggests its members needs permission to access granted protected freedoms. Every religion has rules its members disagree with: LGBT, education, pushing a stroller, leaving the house, clothing, marriage, divorce, fasting, planned parenthood etc. Every person from every culture and background has the choice to follow all of the rules of a religious group, parts or not to practice at all. When insular communities are formed this can make this choice more challenging for the members within these communities. Women and children in particular are still vulnerable in every religion. To be observant is a choice that needs to be respected and it’s a choice that every person from every culture is allowed to make. An example of a religious accommodation is when students are not allowed to wear hats in school, but a student is provided with an accommodation to be able to wear a turban as long as the accommodation doesn’t interfere with safety or cause a major distraction to the learning environment.. Now it’s up to the towns and county to deal with this issue head on and to not allow the Eruv based on equality rights that are inclusive for every person from every background and culture, which I believe, will hold up in the courts. When equality issues get to the Supreme Court then the supreme court usually overturns the lower courts decisions; Brown Vs. Board of Ed. Roe vs. Wade, gay marriage. Not dealing with this issue openly has caused divisiveness between and within communities, as well as, hurt and pain for various sects within the Orthodox Jewish Community, and that’s not right. This is also why we need cultural proficient leadership and training for all our town, local and county system leaders. Together we are stronger and divided we are weaker and those who seek corrupt power are fully aware of this.
- SAIN Building: The number of people 85 and older is expected to grow significantly between now and 2035. If a collaborative strategic action plan has been created with expert and constituent input that demonstrates that the planning for the proposed sale of the sain building is inclusive of; strengths vulnerabilities, guiding essential questions, goals, outcomes: negative, neutral and positive, data; capacity, environmental, demography, ratables, sustainability, laws, and accountability then it’s time to start questioning and investigating if the Rockland County Legislature is engaging in discriminatory practices against our seniors. Why would they choose not to move forward with the sale to support our aging senior population to be able to remain and sustain in Rockland County? Our government’s job is to protect our most vulnerable, engage in best practices, follow laws, and serves the needs of the community. Rockland currently has a limited number of facilities for our elderly in need of care. These strategic transparent action plans when created with expert constituent input and community input and when aligned with the needs of the community hold up well in the courts, and cut right right through the finger pointing, power struggles and blame games.
My three major platforms are: creditability of our schools, equality, and creation of collaborative strategic action plans with expert constituent input and community input that serves the needs of the community. Some of our government boards have been given way too much power, and its time to give the power back to the people of Rockland County. We have about 320,000 people in Rockland and if everyone that can votes gets out and votes then collectively the person that will serve the people and only the people will be the person elected. Please be an informed voter and check out my platforms, backgrounds and experiences on my Deirdra O’Connor for Rockland County Executive Facebook page and vote on November 7th. You will also notice that I am very transparent when it comes to the dealing with the issues at hand. Deirdra O’Connor Rockland County Executive write in.