Still peeved over Councilman Paul Aronsohn's dramatic endorsement of two candidates that make them nervous, grassroots anti-hospital expansion group Concerned Residents of Ridgewood (CRR) ultimately decided on Wednesday to continue its support of the candidate.
Aronsohn at Monday's televised debate . The three were "like-minded" on a majority of issues and as a trio could help change the tone of Village Hall, the apparent new unofficial slate said.
But Hauck and Pucciarelli, CRR says, have supported previous hospital expansion efforts. That marks a sharp contrast to its endorsed candidates of Jane Shinozuka and Mayor Keith Killion, who have publicly opposed expansion efforts or voted against them, respectively.
Little has officially changed from their end regarding Aronsohn's candidacy.
“CRR is not changing our endorsement at this time, as we remain fully vested in Mr. Aronsohn's admirable commitment to prevent the proposed hospital expansion,” said group chairman Pete McKenna. “We look forward to his immediate action on this matter as a first order of business should he be re-elected to the Village Council.”
CRR said they were a bit blindsided by the public endorsement though the 'public' portion seems to be the genesis of the dispute.
Said McKenna: “We acknowledge that, prior to our endorsement, Mr. Aronsohn openly shared with CRR's leadership that his views on many issues, beyond the hospital expansion, were aligned with individual candidates who had previously spoken out in favor of Renewal; however, it must be noted that he also explicitly expressed to us that he did not plan to actively or prominently run as a formal public coalition with these individuals. CRR did not ever consider he would use a high-profile televised forum, like the League of Women Voters Debate, to publicly advocate for these candidates.”
“Clearly, there was a miscommunication at some point, but I was very explicit in my conversations with CRR leadership about my support for Albert Pucciarelli and Gwenn Hauck, two candidates who share my commitment to good, fiscally-responsible government,” Aronsohn responded Wednesday night.
“That said, I am very proud to have the CRR endorsement and look forward to working with them to preserve and protect the integrity of our Village.”
Aronsohn is the only candidate to publicly call for the planning board amendment to be rescinded. But not so fast, McKenna says.
Although he'd like “nothing more to see” than a fresh start, McKenna said the council putting pressure on the planning board to rescind the ordinance – which Killion alluded to Monday night – would likely initiate expensive litigation from Valley. The group too has no plans to drop its lawsuit against Valley and the planning board, he added.
The grassroots group came away impressed with Mayor Killion and was upset by Aronsohn's “challenging” of the former police captain.
“I think throughout the meeting he was challenging Keith Killion's leadership,” McKenna said. "Based on our record and our experience with this village, we have no qualms with Keith Killion's leadership. When I think back five years ago, I think the village is not in a worse place than it was."
McKenna agreed with Killion that the Valley question has taken too much in resources and energy and said the Aronsohn adage of "walking and chewing gum” doesn't hold due to the complexity of the matter.
“Quite frankly this is really complicated,” he said. “It is very, very time-consuming.”
McKenna previously told Patch that as an individual he questioned whether he'd want Aronsohn on the council let alone as potentially mayor and speaking, personally, he stood by those comments on Wednesday.
He did say, however, the organization is not urging supporters to only bullet vote for Shinozuka and Killion.
Though they're not fully pleased with his election strategy, Aronsohn remains one of theirs.