Rye City Council candidates: Meg Cameron

Cameron-1Meg Cameron
Age: 59
Status: Challenger
Political Affiliation: Democrat
Endorsements: None
Number of years lived in Rye: 27
Occupation: home/volunteer

: Husband: Jim Glickenhaus. Children: Jesse Cameron Glickenhaus and Veronica Leeds.
Community involvement:
Executive member of the Board of Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic; volunteer experiences include Milton School, Meals-on-Wheels, Literacy Volunteers of America and Open Door Medical Center. Our family supports numerous international, national and local organizations.
One thing the average voter doesn’t know about you:
I have a masters degree in immunology/molecular biology from Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Q: Considering the financial scandal at Rye Golf Club uncovered last year, one of the City Council’s main priorities next year will be making sure nothing of the sort ever happens again. How has the city been doing so far in terms of increasing oversight at all levels?

A: I think adding the three extra members to the golf club commission is a mistake. I think, instead of more of the same sort of oversight, the city needs to step back and think exactly how they can oversee the enterprise funds more effectively.

Q: What are your proposals and ideas for the golf club going forward?

A: I think it has to be studied and considered before anybody does anything, but I do think a good first step would be to review city operations as we suggested. The organizations and businesses that I have seen that periodically review their operations and then actually act on the review are the ones that are able to anticipate problems and stay nimble. So the budget gets redone every year and the city plan is left over from 1985. We need to look at everything. So, I’m not talking about anything more than just giving everything a fresh look.

Q: Considering City Manager Scott Pickup’s role in signing the majority of the golf club purchase orders alleged to be fraudulent as well as his role in the Rye TV controversy, there has been much speculation on whether he is still the right person for the job. What steps should be taken when a new administration is elected to deal with the general loss of confidence in the city manager?

A: There are certainly serious concerns, but I personally am not privy to all information that all City Council members are privy to and I think it would be premature for me to say more than that.

Q: With news that William Connors is resigning as police commissioner in January, how should the city go about hiring a new commissioner? Should it be handled before or after the election?

A: I think the search should be postponed until we know whether Scott Pickup will continue as city manager or someone will replace him. The city charter provides for the city manager to choose the police commissioner and, if the person who is going to be city manager going forward gets to choose someone in whom he or she has confidence, that’s ideal. In the meantime, the city can appoint an interim commissioner…not necessarily in the ranks. It would be nice, but not necessary, and, that way, somebody could stay on if they prove to be a good fit.

Q: How do you feel the current administration has done in terms of holding the line on taxes? What ideas do you have in terms of taxpayer savings that have yet to be implemented?

A: There’s no magic bullet. Taxpayers have to understand that only 17 percent of their property tax goes to running the city. The rest goes to the county and the schools, which are not governed by city government, but the school board. This is just a nuts and bolts practical job, and the people have to focus on the details instead of squabbling with each other.

Q: How do you grade the current administration and why?

A: I appreciate everybody’s efforts, but the results have disappointed the whole city.

Q: The city has been plagued by infighting and divisiveness. How do you plan to avoid that?

A: When I go door-to-door and talk to people, they bring that up themselves. People in Rye are very well-informed about city government; they watch it on TV, they watch it streaming on the web—which is what I do—or they go to actual meetings and they see it and they’re appalled. It’s the way [city council members] interact with each other and, at times, it’s the way they interact with the public.

Q: If Councilwoman Catherine Parker and Councilman Joe Sack win their respective races, what will factor into your decision-making process when it comes to appointing one to two new council people?

A: I think it’s good for a council to have diverse skills and backgrounds so, if you have finance, if you have law, if you have technical or science backgrounds and you have community volunteers, that’s a good mix. And I think it’s important to have people who are willing to work respectfully and productively with other people.

Q: In terms of flood mitigation, do you think the city is prepared for the next big weather event with the advent of the new sluice gate?

A: I think the sluice gate is great, but this is a project that was begun before the current administration took office and they’ve dropped the ball about finding more things. I mean, the sluice gate will give us partial relief, but we need
to do more.

Q: What will be your three most important priorities in office, if elected?

A: Not necessarily in order:
First, try to steer the City Council back to civility and focus on the actual issues.
Second, to focus on the business of the city as well as maintaining excellent services: dealing with the infrastructure and capital projects, improving labor relations, finding innovative solutions to flood control, preserving open spaces.
Third, controlling taxes.

-Reporting by Liz Button