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Mayor Delfino Runs Again!

Republicans' light show "Going the Distance" holds estimated 200 GOP-ers spellbound as city ticket is announced.

Delfino, Delgado, Amodio, Tuck and Corcoran enter through gauntlet of handshakes to the theme from "Rocky," in choreographed opening.

"The Champ," keynotes reelection bid with a "top 10 reasons to reelect Delfino."

Delgado promises campaign of "facts and acts and not attacks," says he is committed to one more term as councilman and that is it.

Corcoran, "born again" as Republican, going for Legislator says ticket has "intelligence, charisma, enthusiasm."

Cantatore, City GOP Chair, says "I am really amazed at how much was accomplished in the last 3-1/2 years. It's truly progress, not problems."

By John F. Bailey

CityLine: May 22, 2001 -- Crowne Plaza Hotel

Mayor Joseph Delfino is running again.

Delfino, the veteran favorite son of White Plains, who has served the county seat as Councilman and County Legislator, and its Mayor for 3 years and 6 months, put aside family reservations that he should not seek a second term, and announced to over 200 Republican supporters he was "Going the Distance."

This title keynoted the hard-hitting 4 minute sound and light show that opened the festivities announcing the Republican City slate at the Crowne Plaza Tuesday night.

The action got underway at 6:15 PM with a dimming of the lights in the packed ball room and the projection screen lit up with the light show: "Going the Distance," which consisted of a rapid fire sequence of color slides punctuated by the popular song "Going the Distance." (The 4-minute slide show on computer was produced, according to Paul Wood, city economic development officer, by his wife and will be paid for by the "Friends of Delfino" committee.)

Applause for each bullet-and-picture slide, stating administration accomplishments burst out spontaneously from the crowd. When the 4-minute show wrapped up, Mr. Delfino was introduced as the theme from "Rocky," the motion picture, "Eye of the Tiger" segued in over the finale.

The Mayor, in his trademark brown suit, white shirt and wide dark tie, entered with his slate like a prize fighter with his entourage, receiving handshakes, backslaps and congratulations from relieved Republicans.

"The Champ" wasted no time in getting into the reelection ring with a rapid fire series of setup punches:

Delfino said he had taken over a White Plains in a "downward spiral", three and a half years ago, that was "suffering from the effects of a government that spent four years talking about problems and almost no time getting things done....the national economy was rebounding. Economic growth was occurring all over the country....but progress was not made (in White Plains). Company after company had left White Plains leaving behind empty office buildings."

The Mayor painted a picture of a city in decline under the previous Democratic administration. Then he pounded away with a devastating combination of accomplishments that read like a "Top 10 Reasons to Reelect Joe Delfino:"

* Delfino said that in 1998, over 30% of the City's office buildings were empty, and now over 87% of the office buildings are rented, citing a 60% drop in the office vacancy rate since he came into office.

* He took responsibility for renovating 40 office buildings, with "building construction and renovations rising to 'record-breaking' levels 3 years in a row."

* He announced the reverse of the business relocation drain, citing new companies moving to White Plains under his watch: Metromedia, Heineken, Greenwich Technology Partners, Blue Sky Productions and Met Life.

* He claimed responsibility for assessments increasing 2 years in a row, after 11 straight years in which they had declined.

* He pointed to the apparent solution to the "Hole in the Ground" eyesore, where construction on the Bank Street Commons Project is to begin in July.

* Delfino rattled off successful efforts to bring residential housing back to the downtown, pointing to Canfield Park on Main Street, the first such apartment built in the downtown since 1989, and apartments approved for future construction on Church Street.

* He wrapped up his administration credentials with a finishing flourish of high impact projects: The Stop and Shop supermarket on Westchester Avenue, The Container Store, the Pace Judicial Training Center, the Mercy College Technology Center, and the Town Center project, recently revived by Cappelli Enterprises, and plans for improving the streetscape of the downtown.

Delfino concluded defense of his administration record citing two straight years of "zero tax increase budgets" and "that property taxes in 'White Plains rank among the lowest in Westchester County."

He did not forget "quality of life issues," citing his Environmental Protection Initiative "securing a $5 million fund for open space acquisition," and addressing needs of seniors through his Cyberseniors program, and after school programs which he said were named a "national model by the U.S. Department of Education," and a crackdown on speeding in the neighborhoods with "a doubling of radar units and a neighborhood-by-neighborhood educational and awareness program."

With pride he pointed to the refurbishing of parks and fields for the youth of the city: in three years, Delfino says "3 new soccer fields (at George Washington School) and three new ball fields have been built."

Delfino said "we continue to create new special events including last year's Columbus Day Parade, the downtown street festivals and this year's upcoming Hispanic Heritage parade."

The Mayor wrapped up his speech with a stiff "left right cross" at the Democratic-controlled council:

"From time to time, there were some who preferred to stand in the way of progress for the sake of politics. And there continues to be those who prefer to criticize rather than playing a part in making White Plains the best it can be. But we have come too far to let them reverse the progress we have made. And we still have a lot more to do. I want to finish up what we started...We need to stay the course in our effort to rebuild this City's economy and to bring new life and excitement to our streetscape."

The Mayor said he hoped to help those who needed help and protect the residential character of neighborhoods. He said he wanted to resolve the New York Hospital Issue "once and for all," and "expand our tax base so that we can continue to keep property taxes under control."

Frank Cantatore, City GOP chair, before introducing the City Committee choices for Council and Legislator, said "I was really amazed how much was accomplished in the last three and a half years. It's truly progress, not 'problems'. Four years ago the city was listing...but is headed in the right direction at this time."

He introduced Candyce Corcoran, the recently exiled Democrat, whom the Republicans pounced on to be their candidate for County Legislator in District 5; Larry Delgado, attorney running for reelection to a second 4-year term on the Council; Mike Amodio, an attorney running for a second attempt at securing a council seat; and Robert Tuck, downtown businessman, also making another run at the council.

Mr. Delgado, moved by the reception, said to the gathering: "Your support means everything to us. This team keeps getting better with a pair of first round draft picks (Tuck and Amodio). This is going to be a wonderful team for the Mayor. So many things have changed for the better. We can honestly say we managed to perform on a very ambitious agenda. We had 61 official meetings in 2000...we aim to finish the job in our second four years. (Our campaign) is going to focus on facts and acts and not attacks."

Robert Tuck, introduced as a man "everybody knows," appeared also genuinely thankful for the opportunity, saying he was "very grateful and very proud to be selected."

Tuck said he was a resident for 46 years in White Plains, and that this was "an opportunity (for him) to give something back to the city of White Plains. White Plains is a great city, a county seat that no other county can compare."

Mr. Amodio, the third member of the Republican council team, hammered home the Republican record: "The Mayor charted a new course to change the tone in the Common Council. They did. To revive the downtown. They did. To revive the business district. They did. Now they have enlisted me and Bob Tuck to join the team. I am happy and proud to join the Delfino team."

Candyce Corcoran, "a born-again Republican," now running for County Legislator in the newly redrawn District 5 (Passed Wednesday, by a 10-6 vote at the County Board of Legislators) after resigning from the Democratic Party Organizational chair, praised the Republican ticket as one that will "convey intelligence, charisma, and enthusiasm to every constituent that we meet."

She was quietly serious about her reason for running:

"I am the people's choice. Westchester needs a legislator who is dynamic, whose commitment is genuine, and who is determined to improve our quality of life. A person who knows White Plains, a person who White Plains knows. I am that person. I have a proven track record of being involved, dedicated intelligent and I get results."

She signaled an early line of political attack against Legislator William Ryan, saying "I will be a full time Legislator. Consequently, I will be highly visible within your neighborhood."

After Ms. Corcoran reintroduced the Mayor, Mayor Delfino called up his wife, Ellie and daughter, Cynthia, and thanked them for their support in his reelection bid. He alluded to discussions they had had about his running, and indicated that without their support he would not have run.

Delfino, the old "champ," a 20 year political force in White Plains, finished off with a roundhouse right:

"You just heard from the team. I think about the future. We're going to get there. This Council had no choice but to approve (our projects). We worked 7 days a week to do that. Can you imagine what we could do if we had support? If the people can't see, I couldn't care less about what a person is, just that there's no substitute for hard work and family values. They say there are 12,000 Democrats and 7,000 Republicans, but there isn't any right way I know except to work hard to want to be the best. They (our team) are going to work together and we'll be a fabulous city."

In the schmoozing that followed the formal presentation of the slate, Larry Delgado caught up to this reporter and when asked his assessment of White Plains said "Optimism. A bright future. There's no going back. I've announced for one more term and that's it."

Mayor Delfino stayed until the crowd dwindled, working the room as he always does then headed out at 7:30 for a meeting with the Independent Party for their possible endorsement, then on to the Hillair Circle Association.

The champ was running again.


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