Michael Kaplowitz, a Somers Democrat and a member of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, announced he is running for the New York State Senate to represent the 40th District. Vincent Leibell, the Republican incumbent, will not be running for re-election and instead will run for Putnam County Executive.
Kaplowitz made his announcement in a press conference in front of the Putnam County Courthouse in Carmel, saying that he chose to announce in Putnam because that county's property taxes have gone up 79 percent over the last five years.
"New York State has insane property taxes, a bankrupt government and an irresponsible legislature," he said in his speech. "We're in a state of emergency and our legislature has neither the ability nor the will to get us out of it."
Fiscal responsibility will be a theme for his campaign. He noted in his speech that he voted against pay raises for the county legislators and what he called a bloated legislative budget. "I think good financial policy is a matter of common sense. No one party owns that," he said later.
Kaplowitz will be running against Assemblyman Gregory R. Ball, a Republican and Patterson resident who currently represents the 99th District. "I think his chances are really good against Greg Ball," said Lynne Eckardt, Putnam County Democratic Chairwoman. "After the voters get a chance to know the candidates, Mike wins."
Just as Kaplowitz came to the podium to start his speech, a man approached the podium to put a poster in front of it and was gently shooed away. The man was Jim Coleman, Ball's Chief of Staff. Coleman held two posters that he said showed that Kaplowitz was using his county legislator website for his campaign, "a clear violation of ethics," he said. Kaplowitz's legislative Web site now appears to be different from that shown on the poster Coleman was holding. Last Thursday, Kaplowitz had charged Ball with using his legislative mail privileges for campaigning, The Journal News reported.
"We are going to keep a positive campaign," said Jerzy Dydecki, an aide to Kaplowitz. "I invite Mr. Ball to have his own press conferences," Kaplowitz said.
In the Westchester legislature, Kaplowitz chairs the Committee on Government Operations, Efficiency and Savings. He has been chairman of both the Budget and Appropriations Committee Chairman and the Environment and Energy Committee, and vice-chairman of the Board of Legislators. He has represented the 4th County Legislative District in Westchester (New Castle, most of Yorktown and part of Somers, ) since 1998. Kaplowitz is an attorney and a certified financial planner. He lives in Somers with his wife, Jayne, and two daughters.
The 40th Senate District covers Westchester from Mount Kisco and Bedford at the southern end and goes north, covering all of Putman County and eastern Dutchess County, including near the border with Columbia County.
Michael Kaplowitz: mikekaplowitz.com
Greg Ball: ball4ny.com