By Daniel Solis ‘20
On Dec. 4, the politics club went on a trip to Yonkers to meet the influential mayor Mike Spano. Headed by Mr. Federico, Mr. Raggo, and Mr. Piro, 18 students discussed a wide variety of topics with the Yonkers mayor as well as city councilman John Rubbo, who is a graduate of Salesian’s class of 2000.
During a roundtable discussion with Mayor Spano, numerous topics were discussed. Mayor Spano started with a brief history of Yonkers, which led into a conversation about the need to bring businesses to Yonkers. The mayor, a Democrat, decried those on the left who simply state that no tax exemptions should be given to corporations saying that the need to bring business to build up Yonkers is more important. The conversation shifted to his own goals as mayor and his relationship with other mayors in the area. He mentioned how he had a good relationship with New Rochelle mayor, Noah Bramson, and how benefits to New Rochelle could benefit Yonkers and vice versa.
Mayor Spano talked about developing affordable housing and trying to move Yonkers in a more sustainable direction. He also touted his achievements in working to better integrate the police into the community to build a better trusting relationship. Finally, he boasted of his ability to bring the movie industry back to yonkers, citing his removal of a stage tax as well as other initiatives to allow the industry to prosper. As the nearly hour long conversation reached its conclusion, it would shift one last time. Some students asked him what he thought of the Democratic primary and the current political landscape. He discussed his remorse at the polarization of today’s political world and expressed hope that America will return to bipartisanship and when approached with a question on whether he could see himself one day running for President, he politely said no and that he looked forward to his retirement.
After the meeting with Mayor Spano, the club then proceeded to go to the Historical Council Chamber where they talked with Salesian graduate John Rubbo on his time at Salesian and what caused him to enter politics. The students asked him if there was any one teacher that influenced how he developed as a person and very quickly he said Mr. Schoenerr. At the time, he explained, Mr. Schoenerr was not only a math teacher but he was also the Dean of Students, and he reflected on how his experience with him as a teacher and Dean shaped his growth as a person. They talked for a while longer about his experience at Salesian and his early experiences at Yonkers City Hall prior to running for the council.
Those at Yonkers City Hall were extremely gracious and never tried to shoot down any questions or make the process go faster despite their busy schedule. The meeting with Mayor Spano and Councilman Rubbo showed just how intelligent and interested Salesian students are and the meeting was a great experience for all.