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Vladimir Leon announces run for Rockland County exec
Spring Valley resident Vladimir Leon, a newcomer to the Rockland County political scene, announced Wednesday his run as the fifth candidate for the county executive seat that will be left vacant at the end of this year.
Leon, a 37-year-old Democrat, said his educational background and knowledge of Rockland County -- which is facing a $96 million deficit -- will help bring it out of the red.
"The most important to me is the economy," Leon said, adding that his master's thesis at Columbia University centered on the Rockland budget crisis. "The type of decisions that have been made here are not sustainable."
Currently, there are three other Democrats and one Republican vying for the seat held by County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef, who announced late last year he will not seek another term after serving 20 years in office. Rockland County Legis. Ilan Schoenberger (D-Ramapo), former Spring Valley Justice David Fried, Suffern Mayor Dagan Lacorte and Legis. Edwin Day (R-New City) announced their bids earlier this year.
Born in Saint Marc, Haiti, Leon studied at a French boarding school in Port-au-Prince before immigrating to Rockland County when he was 21, he said. A graduate of Rockland Community College, Leon went on to earn his master's degree in sustainability management.
Leon, who spent four years as a public health inspector in Rockland, unsuccessfully ran for village justice in Spring Valley and town adjuster in Ramapo. His brother, Anthony, Leon, is a trustee for the Village of Spring Valley.
"We're looking for a new start here in Rockland," said Vladimir Leon, who runs his own marketing consulting business in Spring Valley. "The campaign is still being organized, but I know there will be many organizations backing me."
Leon, who is in favor of the controversial desalination plant project, said as Rockland's population continues to rise, steps need to be taken in order to keep the county financially viable.
"There are natural and environmental resources are not being exploited," Leon said. "We need to identify those resources so we can turn those resources into economic gain. We have so much to offer, but we still have an economy that is doing so poorly."
Leon said his lack of political experience would not hinder his ability to be an effective county executive.
"We have legislators and lawyers running but they do not have economic backgrounds," Leon said. "They say they have experience but it's not holding an office that qualifies you for fixing these issues. The others have been in office when these problems were created, they contributed to the problems. So why didn't they do something about it then? We need to head in a new direction."