Family: husband Dan; daughters Lulu and Nina; expecting a boy in three months
Employment: Self-employed consultant on recruiting and marketing for six years
Years in Rye: 5
Political affiliations: Registered Democrat
Endorsements: Democratic, Independence and Working Families lines
Community affiliations: Attendee and Board of Trustees member at Community Synagogue of Rye, member of the Rye Arts Center
One thing the average voter doesn’t know about you: I was a theater major in college, and had small roles in TV and film.
Q: Why did you decide to run for a seat on the Rye City Council this year?
A: When my husband and I put our roots down in [Rye,] I felt it was really important to not only be a part of the community, but to serve in any way that I could.
There are so many issues right now that need addressing in the city that it was a really good time [to run], and I can take a step back from my work and really focus on the needs of the community.
Q: Explain what your platform as a candidate is to our readers.
A: Our slogan is “Fresh Voices, New Ideas” which I think gives us a good outline as to where we’d like to go. Sometimes, you have to think outside the box and bring different thoughts and ideas to problems that may be ongoing [or old] and just come at them in a new way. I think our ticket has the mindset and the energy to do that.
Q: During last November’s budget cycle, then-City Manager Frank Culross stated that the Rye Fire Department was “staffed for failure.” In his budget proposal, Culross included the addition of several career firefighters to the city’s payroll, which was ultimately rejected by the current Rye City Council. Do you think the fire department is staffed for failure and, if elected, would you support the hiring of new career firefighters?
A: If you ask the current firefighters—volunteer or professional—they also agree that they’re staffed for failure. I think the system we currently have is a good one, but we’re also aware of the fact that with our changing demographics, our volunteer firefighters are aging out.
With all these new homes that we’re building in town, they are so energy-efficient that they’re almost like an oven; they’ll burn faster and harder.
We must increase the number of our professional firefighters. It’s our job as city council to protect the residents of Rye. What we have currently is not enough.
Q: The city council recently passed rock chipping legislation into law; something unprecedented in Rye. As a result of the new law, which allows for, at most, 38 calendar days of chipping, do you think the city is now in a better place with this law on the books?
A: I think some regulation is better than none. I think that what we had before was a free-for-all, but I’d be very careful to say that this is a better situation.
One of the things I’m concerned about is the 38 calendar days, but there’s allotment for the seven extra days with no penalties, which really means that we’re looking at 45 days. If there’s no disincentive to stop after 38, I think that, in all honesty, [contractors] are going to look at it as if they have 45.
I’m open to looking at [the law] again. I’m also aware that it’s a small part of a bigger picture that needs to be looked at. This is something that has been talked about for years—this was on the 1985 Master Plan. It’s just that [recently] we’ve had a tipping point.
Q: Since taking office in January 2014, the current city administration of Republican Mayor Joe Sack has made several changes to the city charter. First the charter was changed to allow all members of the city council the same authority as the mayor to access city records in an attempt to bring more checks and balances to city government. Then, the city council approved a change giving it the authority to approve the hiring of a police commissioner.
Critics of the administration say these measures were an overreach by a mayor and city council interested in taking additional controls of city government. Do you support the charter changes?
A: I agree with allowing the city council to have the same access [to records as the mayor] because I feel that we need more checks and balances than we currently have. As far as the authority to hire a police commissioner, I absolutely disapprove. I think the hiring of Marcus Serrano seems to be a very good thing for the city. He’s proving to be a smart and thoughtful guy, and I would not want to diminish his capacity. I think it’s an overreach for a city council [to be involved in hiring and firing].
Q: It was recently reported in this newspaper that the city as a whole has not been following state protocol regarding a purchasing policy for goods and services; an issue that impacted every city department, according to City Manager Marcus Serrano. How alarmed should we be by this news and are you OK with the fact that no one has been held accountable?
A: I think Marcus has come into a situation where he’s trying to review all the city’s processes and seeing what’s been done right and incorrectly. It just shows that there’s a need to be aware. We need to be careful that these acts are not repeated and that there’s good oversight so that we don’t get so far along on any of these issues.
Q: Please name one city issue that you feel has been handled or addressed adequately by the current administration. Why?
A: I commend the city council for [passing] historic districting in the central business district. I’d like to see that extended to residential development, but I think our business district is a great start.
Q: The city council recently decided to accept $3 million in flood mitigation funds from the state, which will be administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD. Mayor Sack was the only member to vote against accepting the funds, fearing HUD would expect certain things from the city regarding affordable housing. Would you have accepted the money and what plan do you have to combat flooding in Rye?
A: I completely agree with the councilmembers who voted to accept the money from New York Rising. I think the committee put together by the mayor did an amazing job. The $3 million is a start. One project is not going to decrease the impact of flooding. It has to be a combination of the many projects that are on the NY Rising list. Even then, we’re not eliminating any floods, we’re just reducing the impact of flooding. We have to look at all these projects because one is not going to be enough. It comes back to the city council’s job of protecting residents.
-Reporting by Sibylla Chipaziwa