Today, Ron Schutte starts to collect petition signatures for his challenge to three-term incumbent Mike Breen for the fifth district seat on the Yonkers City Council. Growing discontent with Breen over his votes to extend his own term limits and allegations of gerrymandering during redistricting, made a primary challenge expected. However, many thought that Ron Matten, not Ron Schutte, would be stepping into the ring this year.
Ron Schutte is the President of All Hallows High School in the Bronx; the same school which he attended as a child. Before this, he earned the rank of Captain in the United States Army and held positions in private businesses. In Yonkers, he’s been active in the Knights of Columbus, Annunciation Church, and is the Co-Ward Leader of 10th Ward for the GOP.
Term limits appears to be the motivating force behind Schutte’s challenge. In a phone interview he stated that “it’s about stepping up to do the right thing [because] we don’t have anybody fighting whats going on.” And what’s going on, in his view, is that the incumbent is more beholden to the Mayor and his own council seat, than the needs of constituents. Schutte is vowing to bring transparency to governing and also focus on what he calls, “smart development.” He wants to bring big infrastructure improvements to his district, especially to prevent flooding around Crestwood Lake and Schultze Park. And he, like Breen, is strongly opposed to zoning changes in the predominantly single-family home area of the fifth district.
The Republican Ron’s
Schutte’s entrance is surprising because until now, most assumed that Ron Matten would run for the this seat. After losing the city-wide race for council president to Lakisha Collins-Bellamy in 2021, Matten made it clear that he was not hanging up the towel just yet. Moreover, allegations of gerrymandering during the redistricting process brought his intentions front and center during a town hall. However, speaking with Matten about this new candidate running in his stead, he did not mince words about either man that’s running for the GOP nomination.
Back room deals have kept the incumbent, indolent councilman in office. I am honored to support Ron Schutte as our next representative for the fifth council district.Ron Matten
Schutte, like Matten, is part of a seemingly dying breed of local Republican. A Republican that has not switched parties and/or aligned themself to the ubiquitous Spano administration. Today’s Yonkers GOP exists just vaguely as a political party. By title only holding two of seven seats on the City Council and one of the four County Legislator positions. And after the recent redistricting in both of those bodies, the party’s future looks bleak. Now, the fifth city council district is the only steadfastly conservative stronghold left in the city.
So, Schutte’s challenge to Breen puts himself and many in the party in a precarious situation. Whether to support an endorsed incumbent who has oft-supported the Democratic administration, or boost a newcomer that risks the seat and the ire of this same supposedly-oppositional administration. So to win, Schutte must turn out whatever rank-and-file GOP voters that aren’t embedded in the “Spano red team.” A feat that he believes is achievable.
With a general election defeat seeming unlikely in this blood red district, the June primary is the race to watch. Will Schutte be sworn in for his first term, or will Breen for his fourth? If it’s Breen-given his voting history on the matter-that likely won’t be his last term either.