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An Almost Perfect (Pro-Choice) Election Day

November 9, 2011

Yesterday was a nearly perfect Election Day for women’s health in Suffolk, Westchester, and Rockland Counties. Although a few races in Suffolk and Westchester are still too close to call, an overwhelming number of candidates endorsed by the Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic Action Fund  won. And, as of right now, our endorsed candidates are in the lead in all four of those close contests.  

Of course, the best news of all came from Mississippi, where initiative 26, the ballot question amending the state constitution to redefine the term “person” to include “every human being from the moment of fertilization” or cloning,  was rejected 58% to 42% by the voters.  Clearly, “personhood” is just too radical for even the most conservative, anti-choice states.  This, on it’s own, would have been enough to make it a good day for women’s health.

But as pro-choice candidates posted big wins locally, the night went from good to fantastic.

In Suffolk, the PPHPAF-endorsed candidate for County Executive, Steve Bellone, handily defeated Angie Carpenter, taking 56% of the vote.  We are also getting one new pro-choice legislator, Kara Hahn, for certain with the possibility of two more: Rob Calarco, and William “Doc” Spencer.  Both Calarco and Spencer are leading in races that are still too close to call. Kara replaces long time pro-choice champion Vivian Viloria-Fisher, who could not run again because of term limits.  Voters in Suffolk also returned pro-choice incumbents Jay Schneiderman, Kate Browning, and Steve Stern to the legislature.  Pro-choice incumbent Sarah Anker is leading by 357 votes in a race that is also still too close to call. 

In Westchester, all of our our endorsed mayoral candidates were victorious – Mayor Noam Bramson was re-elected in New Rochelle with an amazing 79% of the vote, Ernie Davis was elected in Mount Vernon, and in Yonkers, Mike Spano won, taking 56% of the vote in his three way race with two anti-choice opponents.  I couldn’t be happier about the results in Yonkers.  Not only is Yonkers getting a pro-choice Mayor, it’s also getting a new pro-choice representative on the Westchcester County Board of Legislators, Virginia Perez. She took 55% of the vote to defeat Carmen Goldberg.

John Fitzpatrick, who made reproductive rights (and the PPHPAF endorsement) a central issue in his campaign defeated the right-to-life (RTL) endorsed incumbent Sheila Marctotte with 52% of the vote.  I am thrilled to take this seat out of the RTL column.  The other PPHPAF-endorsed candidate who was elected, for the first time, is Catherine Borgia.  Borgia’s opponent, Susan Konig, was also endorsed by the RTL.

The pro-choice members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators who will return for another term are:  Peter Harckham, Michael Kaplowitz, James Maisano, William Ryan, Judy Meyers, Mary Jane Shimsky, Alfreda Williams, Bernice Spreckman, Lyndon Williams, and Ken Jenkins.  With these wins we will have a pro-choice super majority on the Westchester County Board of Legislators,  even though the race between pro-choice incumbent John Nonna and Michael Smith remains too close to call.  

Over in Rockland, Nancy Low-Hogan sailed to victory in her open seat race, taking 58% of the vote.  In the open seat race between pro-choice candidates Aney Paul (D) and Henry (Hank) Stewart (R), Paul won with 62% of the vote.  And, not surprisingly, pro-choice champion and Chair of legislature, Harriet Cornell was re-elected.

Some of our endorsed candidates in these counties didn’t win.  In Putnam County, where pro-choice candidates are (sadly) few and far between, the results were downright depressing but not surprising.  Mary Ellen O’Dell, who is described by the RTL of the 9th Judicial District as someone who “claims to be ‘pro-life’,” was elected County Executive.

Still, it’s hard to let this result put a damper on my victory celebration.

Now that the 2011 elections have come and gone there’s no time to waste working for big wins in 2012.  That’s why the Planned Parenthood Action Fund launched Women are Watching yesterday.  Check it out and be sure to sign the pledge. Cosmo on-line is calling it The New Site Every Woman Needs to Visit.  I agree.  Because, when you think about it, elections and reproductive rights have a lot in common with football; “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” 

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