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 Roach. Check back during the next two weeks for each of the other candidates' answers.
Please tell us a little bit about you:
I currently work for the National Kidney Foundation. I was born in San Diego, raised in the Seattle area, went to University at the University of Liverpool in England where I obtained a BA in journalism. Worked in France, Egypt and Washington State before eventually coming to New York. I've been in Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow for about three years. I live in the inner villagethe only candidate who does.
What qualifications make you the best candidate for village trustee?
I covered local government for five years as a reporter and have seen decision making in action and understand how local government works. I have also been intimately involved in both Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. I am dedicated, hard-working and can work with this community to push the Village forward.
What committees and organizations are you involved with in the village and area?
I am a member of the Sleepy Hollow Environmental Advisory Council. I also volunteer as an EMT in Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown. I'm a member of the Westchester Cycle Club and I am an avid blood donor, which is something that is very important to me.
How would you address the tax cap and residents' concerns about higher taxes?
I think we should stay within the 2 percent cap on levy increases set by the state. I think a good start to this would be for trustees to forgo their pay, and/or donate it to community causes like maintaining parks and downtown areas.
That being said, we're going to have a really hard time. The current administration has been good at keeping taxes low, but they also haven't taken on any big projects that haven't been funded by CDBG funds. Moving forward, there are some big-ticket items we'll be paying for as taxpayers (fire engines, infrastructure repairs, a new water tank), and we're going to need citizen input on the budget to determine where to cut and how to save money.
What would you do to help revitalize the downtown business district?
I want to set up a beautification foundation to start with, and make sure the downtown residents buy into this community and take charge of their neighborhood through cleanups and tree well plantings. I also want to see more community service toward cleaning our streets being doled out by our court system. A larger approach will be creating a master plan to guide business growth and development so we can look at downtown revitalization as a whole, not a piecemeal street-by-street approach.
I also want to tackle parking, I agree with previously floated ideas of examining diagonal parking on one side of the street as a way to increase available spaces. This would potentially allow us to create bike lanes in our village on the opposite side of the street as well. This area is very bike-able and walkable, and we should encourage those options. I also would like to analyze vacant lots for potential parking solutions.
What are your opinions on environmental concerns such as the Duracell clean-up and the former General Motors site?
I don't think they have adequately been addressed at General Motors or Duracell. So now we know almost the entire village is contaminated with lead, but the DEC doesn't want to do anything about it, and there has been no communication to residents about the exorbitant levels of lead in our soils and what that means for safety. It's great they are addressing mercury, but what you are going to clean mercury and leave lead everywhere? It is nonsensical.
Now we're just getting into cleanup options for General Motors, but I firmly believe there will be pressure to cut corners on cleanup, which means leaving a potential time bomb for future generations. Sure it needs to be developed, but you build a house on rock, not contaminated soil.
What are your opinions on the General Motors redevelopment project and the issues that surround it, such as Tarrytown's lawsuit over traffic concerns?
I think we need to work with Tarrytown. There has been far too much negative rhetoric and too much spending on attorneys. Let's start quarterly meetings with Tarrytown to work toward solutions. That is free, and it is a good first step that can potentially avoid litigation.
I personally think the Village is not getting enough money to implement its side of the General Motors deal (new DPW facilities, Fire and EMS facilities, a possible bridge, a new water tank...) especially with the way the payment plan is designed, where the Village gets a large portion of the money at the end of the project. This leaves us paying upfront for a lot of big-ticket items.
What are your thoughts on working with other municipalities and government agencies to share services?
Yes, yes, yes. And we need to do more. Meeting with Tarrytown regularly, discussing our capital purchases jointly. We need to work out sharing agreements on equipment. Instead of expensive studies, we need to cut and paste from other municipalities who have implemented successful cost-reduction programs. We also can't be afraid to try out new ideas, like recycling twice a week and garbage once a week. You may not think it's a good idea, but try it for a month, see how much we save on tipping fees and how much we increase the sustainability of our village.
What other issues need to be addressed within the village?
My focus is on the downtown. Part of that is the creation of committees that specifically work with the Spanish-speaking population to get them involved - a beautification committee, a Latino committee. I also believe our website should be translated into Spanish, as a safety matter and a way to reach out to locals who want to know about what is happening in their village.
I also believe we need to stop this left-right quarrel we have in our village, there needs to be an ethics board that meets regularly to make recommendations about conflicts of interest or ethical complaints leveled at public officials.
Our committee structure needs to be overhauled and bolstered. We need more input from citizens, especially with such huge problems and projects looming on the horizon.
Why are you running for the position of village trustee?
To make this village a better place.
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