Marist Poll Eyeballs What Westchester Thinks.

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WPCNR WESTCHESTER COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER. From the Business Council of Westchester. October 3, 2013:

Taxes and economic issues top the list of what’s on the minds of Westchester residents as the county executive race heads into the crucial five-week stretch leading up to the November 5th election.

That’s one of the key findings in a survey of residents across Westchester County conducted by the respected Marist Poll in partnership with the Business Council of Westchester. The results were released by the Marist Poll’s Director Dr. Lee M. Miringoff as Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and his challenger, New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson, squared off in their first debate on October 2. Miringoff was the moderator of last night’s debate sponsored by the Business Council and held at the Reckson Center in White Plains.

The Marist Poll finds 30% of adults say taxes should be the top priority for the next County Executive while 21% say jobs, 19% education, and 12% economic development.  Seven percent say housing should be the top priority while poverty, crime, or transportation are each mentioned by fewer than 5%. Less than 1% say race relations or another issue is most important.

Miringoff says, “The economy is top of mind and will be an important factor in this November’s election.” The Marist Poll conducted a similar survey with the Business Council four years ago when Astorino challenged three-term incumbent Andy Spano. The 2009 survey results provide a baseline for comparing residents’ views now and then.

“The Business Council of Westchester is pleased to partner with the nationally renowned Marist Institute in conducting this poll which provides valuable insight into the important issues to be addressed in the County Executive race,” said Marsha Gordon, President and CEO of the Business Council.

The survey finds that an increased proportion of Westchester residents have a more positive  outlook toward  the county’s economy than they did four years ago when the national recession was at its peak. 21% of residents now say the economy is getting better compared with 12% who shared this view in 2009.

Only 16% of county residents believe the local economy is getting worse, a drop from 33% who had this view four years ago.  63% say they feel the county’s economy is on a steady course, up from 55% in 2009.

Taxes and fees for services in their communities are a concern for county residents.  On the question of whether or not the amount residents pay in local taxes and fees is “fair,” residents divide:

50% think they are not fair while 48% believe they are. Registered voters are slightly more dissatisfied with 53% saying the level of taxes and fees is unfair compared with 46% who say they are fair. When homeowners weigh in on the school and property taxes they pay, 60% say the amount is unfair while just 38% think it’s fair.

Other findings from the Marist Poll include:

  • 58% say their family’s financial picture will stay about the same in the year ahead, while 32% think it will get better and 10% worse. In 2009, just 50% saw a steady personal financial status for the year ahead. More than one in four, 27%, thought it would get better while 23% thought it would get worse.
  • 74% say if they lost their job it would be difficult to find a similar position the same distance from home, including 37% who think it would be very difficult and another 37% who think it would be difficult.  22% say they would be able to find an equivalent job, and 5% think it would be easy to do so.
  • 96% of residents are satisfied with Westchester County as a place to live. 91% rate their neighborhood highly, including 51% who characterize their neighborhood as an excellent place to live. Among whites, 96% say their neighborhood is an excellent or good place to live while among Latinos and African Americans, the excellent and good ratings are 88% and 68%, respectively.
  • 69% of adults think Westchester is unaffordable for the average family. 32% think the county is affordable, including 30% who say it is reasonable and just 2% who believe it is very affordable.
  • 70% of residents say they plan to remain in Westchester for the next five years, 24% expect to move, and 6% are unsure. Among all Westchester residents, regardless of whether or not they plan to move, 50% say non-economic reasons would be the reason for a move. But among those planning to move, 48% cite economic reasons for the decision.

For complete Marist Poll survey findings and methodology, go to www.maristpoll.marist.edu.

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