(A much edited version of this appears in today’s Record newspaper.)
It was a real disservice – to the members of his organization as well as to the rest of us.
Bergen County Republican Chairman Bob Yudin recently took to the pages of The Record to launch the first political attack of this political year. Gearing up for this November’s big race – Bergen County Executive – the Chairman outlined his case against what he termed “the malfeasance at One Bergen Plaza”.
In his diatribe against the Democratic Party, he railed against the excesses of County government. He railed against a “lavishly paid” school superintendent. And he railed against “overpaid” consultants and lawyers.
The problem for Republicans is that his article actually sets them up for failure this fall. And the problem for the rest of us is that it offered us nothing new, nothing productive, and nothing genuine.
First, Mr. Yudin’s chosen candidate, Kathleen Donovan, is one of the longest serving elected officials in Bergen County government and is therefore – to many – the public face of Bob Yudin’s much maligned One Bergen Plaza. In fact, she has been the County Clerk – one of the top positions in the bureaucracy – for over two decades … since Ronald Reagan was in office! And with over 22 years in a senior County job, Donovan hardly embodies the “change” that Yudin and others are calling for.
Second, Mr. Yudin’s complaint about the superintendent of the County’s vocational school leaves out a very important point: the superintendent was first hired and then promoted by a Republican County Executive. In fact, it took a Democrat to end Robert Aloia’s high-priced career on the public payroll.
Third, Mr. Yudin’s objections about overpaid consultants and lawyers may have merit and should be investigated. But if we are going to open up the books, we should open all of them – including those of Ms. Donovan.
So, the question remains: Why did he write it? Why did Mr. Yudin waste this opportunity – his first op-ed since becoming Chairman almost two years ago – and go public with such ill-conceived arguments that serve only to expose his Party, while insulting the collective intelligence of everyone else? Why didn’t the Chairman of the Republican Party rise to the occasion of this important election and engage the voters in a discussion of ideas, values, and solutions?
The answer seems painfully clear: Bob Yudin doesn’t seem to get it. He doesn’t seem to get that his position of leadership comes with a responsibility – to the members of his Party and to the thousands of people throughout our community looking for ways to cope with unemployment, foreclosures, and a host of quality of life issues that now define our lives. On the most basic level, he doesn’t seem to get that people want practical answers, not partisan attacks.
Needless to say, the people of Bergen County deserve better. Republican, Democrat or Independent — we deserve an honest, thoughtful discussion of the issues that impact our lives. Taxes. Security. Jobs. Education. Open space. We deserve political leaders who understand us, who respect us, and who have what it takes to actually lead us. And we deserve an electoral process that is rooted in and guided by a sense of integrity.
Simply stated, we deserve better than what Bob Yudin has given us.
Going forward, let us hope that the race for County Executive lives up to its potential as an opportunity for a community-wide conversation about where we are … where we are going … and how we are going to get there. To that end, let us hope – and demand – that our political leaders rise to this challenge and lead this conversation in a way that makes us proud.