SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. Sleepy Hollow residents questioned village trustee candidates on local issues and concerns ranging from the General Motors redevelopment to the Tappan Zee Bridge during a debate Monday night at the Kendal-on-Hudson retirement community.
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.
Candidates each had two minutes to promote themselves as the best candidate or party. Candidates also addressed two topics: What they couldn't change in the village and what they could change.
The Democratic candidates tackled both sides of three specific issues within the village: Wompa noted that the Board of Trustees couldn't change the current site plan for the General Motors development, since the final environmental impact statement was approved by previous trustees. But the trustees can work to increase the Building Department's oversight of the project as it moves forward, she said.
McFarlane said trustees could not wave a magical wand over the inter-village area, explaining that trustees could work to change the downtown area in gradual increments. Lobato-Church cited issues with the Route 9/Beekman Avenue/Route 448 intersection because the road is owned by the state. However, Lobato-Church said the village could and has lobbied the state to take action.
Bedell said many smaller issues could be tackled by individuals who make it their mission to see a change through. Bedell also noted that improving smaller issues would make a better village overall. Roach said he doesn't believe "there are things we simply cannot do. He said the answer is to get more people involved in government who are passionate about an issue or several issues.
Scott echoed Roach's statements, saying he is a lawyer and knows everything is negotiable. Scott emphasized a more transparent government that is willing to open itself up to citizen participation.
Both parties agreed that the village's significant Hispanic population needed to be included more. Scott said the Sleepy Hollow Independent Party was proposing to create a Hispanic Relations Committee to address specific concerns within that community. Lobato-Church said the Democratic Party had been reaching out one-on-one with Hispanic residents to foster interaction and address concerns. Lobato-Church argued that it was important to develop relationships through a one-on-one approach before starting a committee.
In response to a resident's question, both parties agreed that Warner Library was an important resource for the village that deserved continued funding. Wompa said the current Board of Trustees has felt that Sleepy Hollow should have more of a voice at the table and has asked the library to make cuts as other village departments have had to do. Roach said he felt the Board of Trustees shouldn't play hardball with the library to make a point.
Kendal-on-Hudson residents questioned the candidates on the possibility of creating a footpath to the rest of the village. All candidates agreed that the issue was something they would work on if elected.
Sleepy Hollow resident Tracy Brown asked the candidates what they would do to increase the village's presence in the debate over building a new Tappan Zee Bridge. Both parties agreed the new bridge was an important issue, both in terms of noise and traffic, and needed to be addressed.
The six candidates for the Sleepy Hollow Board of Trustees will debate again on Thursday at 8 p.m. at Philipsburg Manor. Elections take place on March 20.
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