SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. Elections for village trustee are less than a month away, and The Daily Sleepy Hollow is preparing by asking the candidates 10 questions about local issues, what they hope to accomplish and why residents should vote for them.
Six candidates are running for three open seats on the board of Trustees. Incumbent Karin Wompa is running alongside Jennifer Lobato-Church and Susan MacFarlane under the Democratic and Better Government lines. David Bedell, Daniel Scott and Sean Roach are running under the Sleepy Hollow Independent line.
The following questionnaire was filled out by Scott. Check back during the next two weeks for each of the other candidates' answers. For previous questionnaires, visit our topics page .
Please tell us a little bit about you:
My day job is an attorney, where I represent individuals, their families and businesses in a variety of personal planning matters, including wealth, tax and inheritance related issues. I grew up in Yonkers (my family moved there when I was 4 years old), where I attended public schools. From there, I went to Manhattan College, where I received the honor of being named valedictorian of my class and was inducted as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. I went to St. John's University School of Law where I was a member of the Law Review and graduated in the top 10 of my class.
I have lived in the village of Sleepy Hollow since 2006. My wife of 12 years, Angelique, and I moved here to start a family. Having both grown up in Westchester, we were already familiar with the area and always had an affinity for Sleepy Hollow. Both of our sons Jake and Ben were born here at Phelps Memorial Hospital.
What qualifications make you the best candidate for village trustee?
I am honest (probably to a fault), hardworking and have no personal agenda. I have been present at the board meetings asking the tough questions on behalf of village residents and making suggestions to improve our village, and will continue to do so if elected a member of the board. I have also posted numerous articles for local publications as well as on my own blog commenting on local issues.
At work, my job is to understand my clients' goals and to help them implement those goals in the best way possible. The first step is knowing what your client wants or listening. As a trustee, my job will not be to tell you what I want, it is going to be to listen to village residents and find out what the village as a whole wants. Then, it will be finding a way to implement those goals in the most cost efficient and productive manner possible. In addition, I am a big believer in communication and education, and I will spend the time to explain every decision the board makes to village residents, and why (or why not) that decision was the best one that could be made. Whether or not you agree, you will always understand what is being done and why it is being done. That is how you build trust and respect among residents.
As an attorney, I frequently deal with corporate and fiduciary boards, so I am familiar with how boards should function and the fiduciary responsibilities that come with being a village trustee.
What committees and organizations are you involved with in the village and area?
Since 2009, I have tried many times to be appointed to any one of several government committees, including the Halloween Committee, the Planning Board, Zoning Board, Waterfront Advisory Committee and the Tree Commission, to name a few. In fact, I believe my wife and I were responsible for creating the first-ever Halloween Committee in 2009 (even though we were never formally appointed). In addition, I have volunteered at local park clean-ups on a number of occasions.
How would you address the tax cap and residents' concerns about higher taxes?
I do not think the tax-cap should be overruled as a matter of course, as the current board and mayor has suggested. While an obstacle for local government, the tax cap is intended to ultimately protect residents, and so it should be respected and adhered to if possible. I have a fairly simple approach to taxes you tax what you need to, and not a penny more. In the village budget, most of the costs are fixed (e.g., pensions, etc.) so there is little you can do to save money. We need to look carefully at the costs that are not fixed to see where money can be saved. I have personally been through the budget line by line, and there are many fees that need explaining (e.g., "consulting fees"). The bottom line is that if residents understood where every dollar was being spent, then there would be less of a "concern" over higher taxes. That said, I think there may be a few areas where we can cut costs in the budget and raise additional revenue to provide some tax relief. For example, sharing services with other municipalities can cut costs, and the General Motors site will provide additional revenue once it is back on the tax roll. Downtown Revitalization can also help with taxes if it results in additional village revenue through new businesses, tourism, etc.
What would you do to help revitalize the downtown business district?
I have been advocating for a Village Master Plan for years. Working with village residents and business owners, I would like to see a master plan put in place to ensure a diverse mix of quality stores, services and restaurants that will attract customers and provide for a wonderful community experience. I will work with neighboring villages that have successfully implemented village plans in order to cut costs and not "reinvent the wheel". I would like to see a committee created around this project consisting of qualified village residents that could work closely with the village Planning and Zoning Boards, as well as the Architectural Review Board. In addition, I will take a more active role in soliciting businesses and investors to come to Sleepy Hollow. There is great potential in our downtown, and letting people know about the opportunities here is good leadership.
What are your opinions on environmental concerns such as the Duracell clean-up and the former General Motors site?
There is nothing more important to this village then the health and safety of its residents. I believe that the village should be in favor of the highest standards when it comes to environmental concerns, especially when they have possible human health consequences. I am not an expert on environmental matters, but I know we have some of the brightest minds in this area living in our village. Again, when there is a specific problem or issue facing our village, such as Duracell or General Motors, I would like to see a committee established of qualified or affected village residents to work with the Environmental Advisory Committee and other state and local agencies and organizations, to address those specific problems and concerns.
What are your opinions on the General Motors redevelopment project and the issues that surround it, such as Tarrytown's lawsuit over traffic concerns?
There are great challenges in moving forward with development of the General Motors site. We need to carefully monitor the process so that all agreements, contracts, permits, etc. are properly adhered to, so that the clean-up process is performed at this highest standards and in a way that does not expose residents to dangerous toxins, and we need to manage the village's development responsibilities under the Special Permit in a responsible manner. I think we need to vigorously defend ourselves against lawsuits of any nature, but we also need to be respectful of our neighbors' concerns (as well as the concerns of residents) when it comes to the development of General Motors. Good leadership results in shaking hands, not pointing fingers. I believe that ultimately the General Motors site can be a wonderful addition to our village that, with the right leadership, can unify (rather than divide) people and strengthen our sense of community, as well as our economy.
What are your thoughts on working with other municipalities and government agencies to share services?
I think it is an excellent idea if you can cut costs and still provide the level of service that residents want and need for their families. I am particularly cautious about police and other emergency services, since they speak directly to community safety, but I will keep an open mind as to all possibilities.
What other issues need to be addressed within the village?
I believe in a truly open and transparent government that allows residents to have an active voice in the government and provides opportunities for residents to participate and help in solving problems. Working together as a community will bring strength and unity to our village, and will yield the greatest results. In order to do so, I would propose allowing more resident committees to be formed around specific issues facing our village. While the possibilities are endless, some examples would be Youth Outreach, Hispanic Relations, Tourism, Halloween, St. Patrick's and other celebrations, Downtown Revitalization, Parking, just to name a few.
Why are you running for the position of village trustee?
To bring positive, proactive leadership to our community, and to serve the public. I believe that I have the skills to get residents of our village working together and doing more for our village. More importantly, I understand that government is a process by which solutions are found it is not the process by which you implement your own solutions or agenda. To do so, our government must be functioning properly, and that begins with the election process and electing board members who are independent, critical thinkers that have only the best interests of the village as a whole in mind and who seek to serve those interests through the process of government. I would like very much to have the opportunity to serve the village of Sleepy Hollow, but I do not care about me personally winning any election I care only about the village winning.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.