SOMERS, N.Y. – Somers Supervisor Beth Murphy criticized New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson’s attempt to bring last week’s police matter in Somers over pro-gun signage into his race with Rob Astorino for Westchester County Executive.
Murphy, a candidate for county clerk, confirmed the Somers police and high department handled the incident correctly, and that the sign was violating town code. Bramson’s spokesman Barry Caro later questioned Murphy’s decision to order police to remove that sign when campaign lawn signs remain on public property throughout Westchester.
“Gun safety is a crucial issue in this election, and people have a right to express their beliefs about it regardless of what side of the aisle they’re on,” Caro said. “During this campaign, Mr. Astorino has plastered lawn signs on public property throughout Westchester regardless of local restrictions. That’s why we hope he’ll join us in condemning his running mate’s censorship. Somers should allow Mr. Gibson to oppose gun safety laws, just as we expect we’ll be allowed to publicly support them.”
Caro added that the police officers who had been following directives from Somers’ elected officials had done nothing wrong, and that it was utterly unacceptable for anyone to receive death threats over their perceived political beliefs.
“It should go without saying, but death threats against police or anyone else cross every line of decency and civility,” Caro said. “We disagree strongly with Mr. Gibson and Mr. Astorino on gun safety policy, but everyone has a right to express his or her opinion.”
Somers Police Chief Michael Driscoll said Bramson’s campaign was misinformed and that Murphy did not order the sign removal and was not involved with the incident in any way.
“The Supervisor does not direct the day to day operations of the Somers Police Department and Mr. Bramson, as the Mayor of New Rochelle, should know that,” he said. “I’d appreciate it if he’d leave the Somers Police out of politics. We do our job, respond to complaints and patrol our town. Supervisor Murphy did not direct the removal of the sign. The officer removed it because the police received complaints and it was in the public right of way. Mayor Bramson’s attempt to hijack the issue is politics at its worst.”
Murphy said she has long supported both the First and Second Amendments with both her words and her actions. She said Bramson's attempt to gain some political capital on the backs of the Somers police was blatant and should be rejected.
“Mr. Bramson must be really desperate in his bid to unseat County Executive Rob Astorino if he needs to attack the Supervisor of a small town running in a down ticket race,” Murphy said. “He should stick to the issues that concern the County Executive.”
Caro stood by his initial statements and added that the signage incident is very relevant to the county executive race.
“Her actions and statements do not address what is seen in the footage and doesn’t mesh with her initial statements to local media addressing how the incident was handled,” he said. “Everyone deserves to have their opinions heard on this issue. It’s a crucial issue in this race.”