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Russo Looking to Unseat Incumbent in District 12

HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. -- John Russo is asking residents to write his name on Tuesday’s ballot as he’s running for the Westchester County Board of Legislators for District 12 against incumbent MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson).

District 12 consists of Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings, Irvington and parts of unincorporated Greenburgh, including Edgemont and most of Hartsdale.

Russo, a 61-year-old retired real estate broker, will be seeking his first term and is running as a write-in candidate. The Hartsdale resident said he was hoping to run on several lines, including Republican, Conservative, Independence and even the Working Families Party. He was offered only the Conservative endorsement, however, and he turned it down.

“I didn’t want to just run on Conservative,” Russo said. “I think that would send a message that I thought a certain way, which I don’t. So I dropped out.”

Russo pointed to lowering taxes by lowering spending, rehabilitating the Tappan Zee Bridge and utilizing alternative sources of energy as some of his goals if elected.

“I’m proposing that over a period of let’s say three or four years we could have a double digit tax decrease,” Russo said. “I would like to accomplish that by cutting spending.”

One way of doing that he said is by cutting the salaries of county legislators. “If you’re on a school board you get paid zero, many municipalities don’t pay there trustees. I don’t think it’s appropriate for them to be getting $50,000 a year,” he said. “I’d like to have it cut substantially. I think that $25,000 or $30,000 a year would be plenty and I think it would perhaps change their mindset somewhat so they wouldn’t be spending as much money as they are.”

Indian Point has been a highly contested topic recently and Russo said something must be done about the nuclear facility. Russo said the plant needs to be shut down or converted into a non-nuclear facility, but before that can be done alternative sources of energy must exist to replace it.

“What have we done to prepare for the day we turn the switch off at Indian Point?” Russo said. “As far as I’m concerned, nothing. We need to have alternatives in place.”

Russo suggested alternatives, such as wind turbines, tidal turbines and solar power should be utilized. If elected, Russo said he would be consistently active in attempting to close Indian Point.

“I’d like to be able to go in front of the county Board of Legislators and say at every meeting ‘when you go home to your family, friends and constituents, don’t forget to tell them you did nothing to protect them from a possible nuclear disaster,’” he said.

In regards to the proposed Tappan Zee Bridge project, Russo said he would prefer to rehabilitate the bridge rather than construct a new one, in part due to potential pollution issues in the Hudson River.

“I don’t want to disturb the river bed in any way if it can be avoided,” he said.

Russo said he hopes people write his name on the ballot because he would like to shake things up when necessary.

“At least we should have another voice,” he said. “I think I would be a swing vote. A vote for me is really a protest against what’s going on right now.”

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