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Meet The State Assembly Candidate: Robert Castelli

Robert Castelli is running as an incumbent candidate in the redrawn New York State Assembly 93rd District against challenger David Buchwald. Castelli currently represents the 89th District. The 93rd district covers Bedford, Harrison, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, New Castle, North Castle, North Salem, Pound Ridge and White Plains.

Name: Assemblyman Robert J. Castelli

Age: 62

Family: Two sons, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Special Forces, and an ordained minister.

Occupation: State assemblyman

How long have you lived in town: 30 years

Party Affiliation and ballot lines held: Republican, Conservative

Years in office: February 2010 - Present

Other elected positions held: Lewisboro Town Board, 2000-2004

1) What are the three biggest issues facing your district?

1. Jobs. This includes ending our reputation as the most business unfriendly state and ending the infamous dysfunction and corruption in Albany 2. Cut taxes. Having already passed the property-tax cap and cut the middle-class tax rate to the lowest rate in 58 years, more needs to be done, specifically, substantive short/long term mandate relief 3. Cut spending. We spend too much and get too little in return. The goal is to return fiscal responsibility to strengthen the economy and create jobs

2) How would you address those issues?

Pass a new NY Jobs Plan. My plan would include saving 200,000 small businesses $65 million through a 20 percent corporate tax cut; providing a 10 percent personal income tax credit for 800,000 small businesses, saving them $120 million; implementing an innovative new tax-financing plan to free up investment capital; increasing the minimum wage and tying it to the rate of inflation; tax credits for each new job a small business creates, with additional incentives for hiring off the unemployment line and even more incentives for hiring a veteran; and legislation to protect families from skyrocketing tuition costs.

3)What were your biggest achievements in office?

In this past legislative session I worked with Gov. Cuomo to pass tax reform that gave us the lowest middle class tax rate in 58 years, while passing a long-overdue property tax cap, Tier VI pension reform, which will save $60 billion in the next 30 years, and repealing the onerous MTA payroll tax for schools and 80% of small businesses. More needs to be done. We need to fully repeal the MTA payroll tax, and pass immediate, short term mandate relief to ease the crushing burden on property taxpayers. If the State wants it, the State should pay for it.

As the ranking member of the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee, I authored and passed a major statewide law to prohibit public employers from terminating the positions of persons absent on military duty. I have consistently been rated as a legislator with among the highest environmental voting records by the watch dog group EPL/Environmental Advocates, and have been a cosponsor on the moratorium on hydrofracking. I have also received the endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the Sierra Club. Additionally, I have been endorsed by all 56 Police Departments in Westchester, including the White Plains PBA and the New York State Police.

4) Westchester is among the highest-taxed counties in the nation. What would you do to lower the tax burden? Be specific.

I have always advocated for a “four-legged stool” approach to solving New York’s property tax crisis, including the tax cap; a moratorium on and repeal of unfunded mandates; a circuit breaker to make the system more fair and equitable by tying a portion of property taxes to income; and the tax assessment freeze for seniors and the disabled.

I always said that a property-tax cap would be more of a burden than a solution without the rest of these initiatives. We have worked in a bipartisan fashion to pass the property tax cap, but now it is time to pass the rest of the strategy.

This includes significant mandate relief. New York State is the only state which passes along Medicaid costs to local governments. Along with Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, I announced bipartisan legislation that will structurally reform the cost administration of New York State’s Medicaid system by incrementally transferring full responsibility for funding the $44 billion program to the State – gradually eliminating the local share traditionally paid by county governments, which was called “one of the most historic pieces of legislation to be introduced in decades” by the president of the New York Association of Counties.

It received so much support that the governor was able to include a provision in the state budget which assumed the cost of Medicaid growth from counties, which will provide billions in mandate relief in the next few years. Now we must pass the full state takeover, which will help reign in costs and increase accountability.

5) Why should people vote for you?

With combat service in Vietnam, 22 years in law enforcement and over a decade as a college professor, I have spent a career in public service. Since being elected to the Assembly two years ago I have a consistent record of working in a bipartisan manner with the governor for the benefit of all of my constituents.

My opponent has a record that promises a return to "business as usual" in Albany.  He has voted to raise property taxes every year he has been in office, for a total of 20 percent. Debt in White Plains is up 41 percent in the three years he has served on the City Council, and he voted to give raises to high-level commissioners while voting to layoff police and firefighters. Mr. Buchwald would represent the “Albany insiders” including Speaker Sheldon Silver and the lobbyists, who together have funded the bulk of his campaign. Even now, Mr. Buchwald has been silent about the continued abuse of power by Speaker Silver, to include the recent cover-up of a sexual misconduct scandal by an Albany politician, because Mr. Buchwald's campaign is being funded by Speaker Silver.

In contrast, I have voted to remove Speaker Silver, as an impediment to the bipartisan cooperation that Gov. Cuomo needs to continue the progress already made by his administration. I have worked closely with Gov. Cuomo to pass two responsible, on-time State budgets that cut State spending and closed a $13 billion dollar budget deficit with no new taxes, fees, back-door borrowing, or lay-offs, cut taxes, and passed the property tax cap. While my opponent's record promises a return to the tax and spend ways of the past, I promise to continue to fight on behalf of our residents to create jobs and provide meaningful tax relief for our families in the bipartisan manner that is necessary in Albany.

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