Pledging to restore fiscal sanity and ignite business growth, first-term North Castle Councilwoman Diane DiDonato-Roth officially announced Sunday her bid to run for the 37th Senate District this fall.
DiDonato-Roth, 53, a Republican, was surrounded by family, friends and supporters at the Sons of Italy lodge in Yonkers. She said her entry into the race would also support working women and mothers, whose needs are often ignored. DiDonato-Roth pointed to the political “old boys club” in Albany where nearly every important decision is made by men and in Westchester where she was instructed by party chieftains not to run.
She also spent part of her announcement deriding fellow Republican Bob Cohen, who narrowly lost a challenge for the seat in 2010 to outgoing Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer and is running again this year. The winner of the GOP primary will face Democratic Assemblyman George Latimer in November.
“Here in Westchester, we live in one of the most heavily taxed and expensive places in the country,” said DiDonato-Roth, an 18-year North Castle resident. “Jobs are lost, innovation is stifled and hard working families and businesses gave up on the area and simply moved out. I am running for state Senate because we can do better–and we must.”
The announcement comes as no surprise as DiDonato-Roth openly floated the idea of running for state Senate for months. However, she will have to overcome Cohen’s endorsements by the party’s political brass in Westchester and the name recognition he gathered in his one-point loss to Oppenheimer.
Although DiDonato-Roth may be running from behind, she said that unlike Cohen she has longtime roots in the district. She grew up in Pelham and is a graduate of Maria Regina High School and Iona College.
She also chided Cohen for moving after his previous Scarsdale home was excluded from the newly configured 37th Senate District, calling it a “shameful act of political opportunism.” Derisively calling Cohen “Scarsdale Bob,” DiDonato-Roth said any Republican would have done as well two years ago but a stronger candidate would have defeated Oppenheimer.
“So as he travels around this district making empty promises and giving false hope about reforming Albany, I, as the only elected official and true conservative in this primary, actually have a voting record to back up the talk,” DiDonato-Roth said.
“Suzi is out of the picture, Scarsdale is out of the picture. It’s not the same race, it’s not the same district,” she added.
Cohen brushed off DiDonato-Roth’s challenge by saying that he is concentrating on the general election against Latimer. While he understands he now must contest a primary and said any candidate is free to run, the general election is where the race will likely be won.
“My focus is on November with the general election, that’s what I really believe in,” Cohen said.
He said the key issues are largely the same as two years ago–cutting taxes and making the business environment more hospitable for entrepreneurs to invest.
DiDonato-Roth, a longtime realtor, also vowed to help make state government friendlier to the business community, particularly small business. She said throughout the district there are too many vacancies that are preventing downtowns from becoming more vibrant.
“They are the backbone of our community,” she said. “As a small businesswoman and local elected official, I know personally how taxes and over-regulation kills small businesses. The next wave of job creation can only come when government gets out of the way.”
DiDonato-Roth was elected with fellow North Castle Councilman John Cronin and former Supervisor William Weaver in 2009, during the town’s Republican sweep that year. During her two-plus years on the board, however, she has been a lightning rod for criticism not only in a politically divided town but when a split emerged within the North Castle Republican Committee.