Category Archives: Vote 2013

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Uncounted ballots stall Parker victory

Results posted by the Westchester County Board of Elections indicate that Democratic Rye City Councilwoman Catherine Parker has defeated Republican John Verni in the race for county legislative District 7, but Verni has not conceded the race and is awaiting the results of
the remaining outstanding ballots.

Results of the race for Westchester County’s District 7 legislative seat between Rye City Councilwoman Catherine Parker, a Democrat, and Republican John Verni are still in flux as remaining affidavit and absentee ballots wait to be counted. The county Republican Party anticipates there are roughly 500 votes outstanding. File photos

Results of the race for Westchester County’s District 7 legislative seat between Rye City Councilwoman Catherine Parker, a Democrat, and Republican John Verni are still in flux as remaining affidavit and absentee ballots wait to be counted. The county Republican Party anticipates there are roughly 500 votes outstanding. File photos

According to the county Board of Elections, Parker has 382 more votes than Verni’s 6,102 votes with 100 percent of the 55 districts reporting, but county Republican Party Chairman Doug Colety said there are roughly 500 absentee and affidavit ballots waiting to be tallied. If a bulk of the remaining votes are for Verni, it could mean victory for the Republican.

Results of the election are expected to be finalized by next week after the voting machines are recanvassed and all votes are counted.

“We still have to conduct our investigation,” Colety said. “With all that is pending, that’s why [John] Verni hasn’t conceded and we are in agreement with that.”

Verni confirmed with The Mamaroneck Review that he hasn’t conceded the race and the county Republican Party is investigating votes that may be disqualified after ink bled through the ballot.

“It may take a little bit of time, but I sent Catherine [Parker] a note that every vote counts and every vote matters,” Verni said.

If Parker maintains what seems like a victory, it will stand in contrast to the lack of success of most other Democratic candidates along the Sound Shore on Election Night, highlighted by the Republicans’ re-election of County Executive Rob Astorino as well as a four-member ticket in Rye and two incumbents in the Village of Mamaroneck.

Former Village of Mamaro-neck Trustee Tom Murphy played a small role in the District 7 race. Although Parker defeated Murphy in a Democratic primary for the party’s nomination, Murphy’s name still appeared on the general election ballot as a Working Families candidate. Murphy received 431 votes via that line that tradition suggests would have gone to the Democratic candidate in the race.

Parker announced her intentions to run in May after County Legislator Judy Myers, a Mamaroneck Democrat, announced she would not seek another term in office and endorsed Parker as her successor.

Throughout her political career, Parker is no stranger to close races.

When she faced Murphy in the Democratic primary in September, she snagged the nomination by just 100 votes. While running for re-election to the Rye City Council in 2011, Parker maintained her seat by a mere 4 votes. She was first elected to the Rye City Council in 2007.

Westchester’s seventh legislative district includes the town and village of Mamaroneck, Larchmont, Rye City and portions of New Rochelle and Harrison.

The seat has remained under Democratic control since 1992, when state Sen. George Latimer, a Rye Democrat, served as county legislator.

Parker did not comment before press time.

-Reporting by Ashley Helms

Sheila Marcotte fended off another challenge from a New Rochelle Democrat and secured a third term on the Westchester County Board of Legislators. 
File photo

Marcotte wins tight county race

By Chris Eberhart

Incumbent Republican Coun-ty Legislator Sheila Marcotte won re-election by edging out Mary Jo Jacobs, a Democrat, in the race for Westchester County’s legislator seat in District 10.

Sheila Marcotte

Sheila Marcotte

The race was sufficiently close that another day was required to properly tabulate all the votes. Marcotte was declared the winner Thursday, but she was notified late Wednesday night, after press time, by the county Board of Elections that she amassed 6,254 votes and took a 435-vote lead with all 66 districts reporting results.

During her Election Night party on Tuesday at TuttaBella Trattoria in Scarsdale, Marcotte claimed victory in Eastchester and Tuckahoe, amassing nearly 4,200 votes, but Jacobs made up ground in her hometown of New Rochelle and took an 11-vote lead with 54 of 66 districts, or 81 percent, reporting by the end of the night.

“Eastchester voters came out strong for me,” Marcotte said. “I think they know me more than the people in New Rochelle. They know I’m a hard worker, and I’m no nonsense. But I have to do a better job of introducing myself to the people of New Rochelle.”

Jacobs’s 11-vote lead stood throughout most of Wednesday, after voting machines countywide were impounded on Election Night. When the remaining districts were counted, the results came in quicker than expected.

Even before Wednesday night’s results came in, Marcotte believed she had the advantage moving forward. She said most of the uncounted districts were from Eastchester, which is her hometown, and she had the lead in the absentee ballot.

For Marcotte, this year’s close race was a flashback of 2011, when she beat former Tuckahoe Mayor John Fitzpatrick, a Democrat, by 50 votes after three weeks of counting. This year’s wait wasn’t as long, but Marcotte said the feeling was the same.

“It was torturous then, and it’s torturous now,” Marcotte said, referring to the long wait for election results, but, now that the race is decided, she said she’s feeling relieved and “eager to go back to work representing the people of District 10.”

Marcotte’s campaign was predicated on her track record with the county budget, which saw no recent increase in taxes, and her pledge to continue to lower taxes for the county and regulate spending.

Jacobs introduced new ideas during her campaign, such as bringing in revenue to the county by promoting tourism and creating regional business centers in Westchester while focusing on social issues, which Marcotte believes pushed voters away.

“My message resignated with the people of District 10,” Marcotte said. “Jacobs and [Noam] Bramson tried to make their campaigns about social issues, but voters for county government are focused on taxes, good government and much needed reform. County government will never be about social issues.”

On Thursday, Marcotte said Jacobs called her and conceded.

Marcotte said Jacobs, “was gracious, congratulated me and wished me well.”

Next item on the agenda for Marcotte will be the 2014 budget, which the Board of Legislators will receive next week. The process of approving the budget will have to be completed by the end of the year.

Attempts to reach Jacobs for comment were unsuccessful.

Contact: christopher@hometwn.com

Neuringer-Clark

Mamaroneck Republicans’ mailer distorts Review article

The Mamaroneck Village Republican Committee has circulated a campaign mailer supporting incumbents Mayor Norman Rosenblum and Trustee Louis Santoro that superimposes and juxtaposes campaign text in such a way as to suggest it originated in the story “Neuringer violated ethics code” in the Oct. 25 edition of The Mamaroneck Review.

The opinions and conclusions presented in the mailer regarding Democratic mayoral candidate Clark Neuringer are those of the Mamaroneck Village Republican Committee, not The Mamaroneck Review’s and do not appear in the story referenced.

The Mamaroneck Review disavows any and all association with the content and context of this campaign mailer.

Christian Falcone
Editor-in-Chief
The Mamaroneck Review

The possibility of the Hampshire Country Club submitting a petition for zoning changes in order to build a condominium complex on its property has become a campaign issue in the Village of Mamaroneck. Though the club has not yet submitted any petition, community activists have asked officials for a position on the matter. Photo courtesy Hampshire Country Club

Campaign turns to Hampshire

By ASHLEY HELMS

Some residents in the Village of Mamaroneck are concerned with the possible rezoning of Hampshire Country Club to help pave the way for the construction of condominiums on the club’s grounds. Although no formal application for rezoning is in front of village government, the topic has become a contentious campaign issue in this year’s local election.

The possibility of the Hampshire Country Club submitting a petition for zoning changes in order to build a condominium complex on its property has become a campaign issue in the Village of Mamaroneck. Though the club has not yet submitted any petition, community activists have asked officials for a position on the matter. Photo courtesy Hampshire Country Club

The possibility of the Hampshire Country Club submitting a petition for zoning changes in order to build a condominium complex on its property has become a campaign issue in the Village of Mamaroneck. Though the club has not yet submitted any petition, community activists have asked officials for a position on the matter. Photo courtesy Hampshire Country Club

Incumbent Republicans Mayor Norman Rosenblum and Trustee Louis Santoro have said they were advised by legal council not to comment on the possibility of rezoning because a formal application to do so hasn’t been received by the village.

On the other hand, their Democratic opponents, mayoral candidate Clark Neuringer and trustee candidate Kerry Stein, said the incumbents should be obligated to comment so residents who feel strongly about the issue will know where the incumbents stand.

“I don’t know any politician that would hide behind the skirt of a piece of paper and refuse to talk about proposed laws,” Neuringer said. “As someone running for public office, you have an obligation to tell the people what you think about proposed law changes.”

Plans were displayed at Hampshire’s open house in January for a potential condominium building and parking garage on the club’s property where a clubhouse stands now. The club’s possible rezoning, as a campaign issue, centers largely on what was displayed at that time.

Neuringer said rezoning is a legislative action; a developer is attempting to change the law in order to build a certain structure. Instead of talking about specific development plans or Hampshire in particular, he said Rosenblum and Santoro should be able to safely take a stance on potential law changes. He noted the incumbents have commented on proposed zoning changes to the village’s industrial area.

Controversy surrounding Hampsh-ire Country Club has also come from other sources.

The Mamaroneck Coastal Environment Coalition mounted opposition in August to what it said are the club’s continued violations of the zoning code by holding non-member events without a required special permit, not filing a IRS Form 990 with the village and that Hampshire is, in reality, a for-profit corporation operating in the marine recreation zone, an area which, as designated by the zoning code, is for non-profit membership clubs only.

According to documents obtained by The Mamaroneck Review, village Fire Inspector William Ciraco submitted an order to remedy to the club on Sept. 21, stating that Hampshire did fail to obtain a special permit to hold non-member events and file the proper IRS form. The club is expected to obtain special permit documentation and file the necessary IRS paperwork retroactively from 2010 to 2012.

Celia Felsher, president of the Coastal Environment Coalition, said Hampshire officials consistently said they would file a petition for rezoning through the winter and spring, but became quiet in the summer. When the campaign season began to heat up this year, residents grew concerned with what the outcome of the election could mean for the landscape of Hampshire. Felsher said that, she believes an order to remedy was handed down because the coalition went public with information regarding the club’s alleged zoning code violations, but sees it as a stalling tactic before the election rather than the village taking action.

“There is a concern among various people that one of the reasons the club became quiet was because they did not want this to become a big election issue,” she said. “We feel that the delay of submitting a petition is that, if the challengers won, there would be a possibility that [the club’s] petition wouldn’t be accepted.”

Felsher said Rosenblum and Santoro are very “pro-development,” without understanding the possible implications of it and want Mamaroneck to be a destination spot. Condominiums won’t bring in extra revenue or help to lower taxes because they are taxed at a lower rate than single-family homes, she said.

Mayor Rosenblum said that the Board of Trustees is following the advice of legal council and that making a comment, even about theoretical zoning code changes, would be disrespectful to the legal process. If the board took a stance, he said, and didn’t follow that stance, if a developer wanted to change the zoning law, they could be open to criticism.

“I support the existing zoning, but you can look at it as long as you maintain a steady goal,” he said.

Based on Neuringer’s outspoken opinion about Rosenblum’s inability to comment on zoning changes, the mayor said Neuringer is pandering for votes from certain groups of people in the village.

“He’s focusing on one issue that is a non-issue; not real topics like flooding and taxes,” Rosenblum said.

Despite the Board of Trustees’ silence on the club’s rezoning, candidates running for county office have come out publicly and taken a stance against it.

Republican county legislator candidate John Verni, said that he would be against development at the club.

“As a resident of Orienta Point, I think that area should be preserved as green space and should not be overdeveloped, which would put further strain on our already taxed infrastructure,” Verni said.

His Democratic opponent, Rye City Councilwoman Catheri-ne Parker, also said that she is against rezoning at Hampshire Club, but also said, if elected to county office, she wouldn’t have jurisdiction over the issue.

“Since the proposed condo complex is at the heart of the flood-prone area of the property, it would provoke even more dangerous flooding in future storms,” she said.

The issue has been on the minds of many in the community and even came up during a recent debate in the village.

At an Oct. 9 League of Women Voters debate, the village candidates were asked if they supported Hampshire’s plan to request zoning code changes in order to build a condominium complex on its property.

The incumbents said they were advised by legal council not to comment.

Elisabeth Radow, president of the League of Women Voters, said the group sends out an email to its members before a debate in order to form questions for the candidates that would represent their concerns as a group.

“We want to reflect the questions of the voters and we review the feedback that we get. Based on it, we look at the numbers of the people who asked a question and the relevance and we make a decision,” Radow said.

According to Radow, the league has been asked to have a public forum specifically for the possibility of rezoning and subsequent development at Hampshire.

The debate question may have been premature since there isn’t a formal request or plan for zoning changes in front of village government, but the issue was important to league members based on the feedback it received, Radow said.

“It’s relevant in the community; people wanted to hear the question,” Radow said. “But maybe the question was too aggressively worded.”

Co-owner of Hampshire Country Club Dan Pfeffer could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Contact: ashley@hometwn.com

harrisoncandidates

Candidates spar over spending

By PHIL NOBILE

Picture 6

The candidates in the race for Harrison’s Town Council went toe-to-toe over town spending and several other issues in an Oct. 22 debate.

The debate included incumbent Republican candidates Councilman Joe Cannella and Councilwoman Marlane Amelio, and Democratic challengers Margaret Pritchard and Rosemarie Verano. Sponsored by the League of Women Voters at the veteran’s memorial building on Halstead Avenue, candidates presented their cases for why each should be part of Harrison government.

The Democratic ticket immediately expressed disapproval of the work done by the incumbent council.

“Despite Republican philosophy of lower government spending, Harrison’s recent board has spent excessively. A recent study by the New York State comptroller said Harrison was spending far above other towns,” Pritchard said. “It’s time for a change.”

Councilmen Cannella said voters should keep the council the same as the past term to ensure Harrison continues “in the right direction.”

“We have a really good thing here,” Cannella said. “We had a very difficult time in the past years. We made it through the storm support, and we did far better than others. If we’re not careful, we can mess this up.”

When asked about an audit performed by the state in 2010 that determined Harrison needed to make structural budget changes, Verano attacked a consistent distinction made by Republic-an Mayor Ron Belmont’s campaign, referring to town governement expenditures as investing rather than spending.

“Balancing the budget isn’t about spending but about reducing our spending,” Verano said. “I’d like to take a look at our capital budget. Can things be repaired instead of spending money in those ways?”

Amelio, who first took office as a councilwoman four years ago, fired back with criticism of Democratic former mayor, and current mayoral challenger, Joan Walsh’s time in office.

“Investing in infrastructure is one of the most important things we can do in this town,” Amelio said. “Unfortunately, under the previous administration, nothing was done.”

A recent proposal pitched to the town to introduce electronic signage in the form of billboards into areas of Harrison as a form of alternative revenue was also discussed. Amelio defended the board’s involvement in the plan.

“It behooves all of you to have a board that is investigating ideas on how to hold your taxes, how to increase revenue stream,” Amelio said. “We are going to investigate any viable idea where we can save you money and add to our revenue stream.”

Pritchard criticized the plan.

“I think signage in Harrison would be a distraction and certainly not add to the beauty of the town,” Pritchard said. “We really need to fix the buildings downtown and work with the landlords. We need to limit the kinds of businesses that go downtown. We don’t need more repetition of new businesses.”

Candidates from both camps were polarized when it came to the topic of reducing the mayor position to part-time and bringing in an outside administrator like some other Westchester municipalities have done. The Walsh ticket expressed strong support for the idea, a focal point of the ticket’s campaign thus far.

“It would make a difference in the way things function in the town, where you can’t always get things done because of who you know,” said Pritchard, who also serves as chairwoman of the town’s Democratic Party. “It can free up the mayor to do more ceremonial types of things.”

While Amelio said the possibility of hiring a town administrator would be dependent on whether or not it was “a concept agreeable to the voters,” Cannella, a councilman who has spent 11 years on the town board, stood firmly against diminishing the position of mayor.

“I like a mayor that can interface with the town,” Cannella said. “I don’t think a town manager would survive this board, to be perfectly honest. I don’t think anyone could have the dexterity of skills that would be required.”

However, if the town were to establish an administrator position, it would not require a public referendum, unlike a town manager. The Walsh campaign expressed interest in an administrator over a manager because a manager has hiring and firing capabilities while an administrator cannot. Both camps have claimed public opinion in favor for and against changing the mayor position.

Contact: phil@hometwn.com

 
parkerverni

Parker, Verni tout platforms

By CHRIS EBERHART

Both candidates for West-chester County legislative District 7, Democratic Rye City Councilwoman Catherine Parker and Republican businessman and attorney John Verni, emphasized their bipartisan achievements, but reiterated their parties’ stances on the key issues facing the county in an Oct. 21 debate at the Osborn Retirement Home.

On several occasions, Democrat Catherine Parker accused her opponent John Verni of misrepresenting the facts during their debate in Rye. Photos/Andrew Dapolite

On several occasions, Democrat Catherine Parker accused her opponent John Verni of misrepresenting the facts during their debate in Rye. Photos/Andrew Dapolite

In what is viewed as one of the friendlier races throughout the county, the two candidates are fighting to succeed retiring Democratic Legislator Judy Myers.

When Verni, a real estate developer and restaurant owner, was asked about his experience in government and relevant non-governmental experience, he responded by saying he worked with both parties when he lobbied for safe school buses after a girl was killed in New Rochelle and when he renovated the Mamaroneck train station.

“I lobbied with the state legislature, whether they were Republican or Democrat. I work in a bipartisan way to get results,” Verni, currently living in Larchmont, said. “When I started the project in Mamaroneck, it was a Republican mayor and, halfway through the project, it was a Democrat mayor. And by the time we finished the project, the guy that was head of the Tree Committee had become the new mayor.”

Catherine Parker, the Dem-ocratic candidate, answered the question in a similar fashion, citing her six years of experience serving as the only Democrat on the Rye City Council.

“I think I’ve learned a lot over the last six years as well as how to work well with people,” said Parker, a small business owner in Rye. “I was the only Democrat on our seven-member board and I think we worked very well together because I’ve always said good ideas can come from both sides of the aisle. In a community like this, you expect your elected officials to look at these through the lens of the issue and not the lenses of the party.”

Republican John Verni said he has always worked well with the other side of the aisle during an Osborn Retirement Home debate.

Republican John Verni said he has always worked well with the other side of the aisle during an Osborn Retirement Home debate.

When questions about the Department of Housing and Urban Development settlement as it pertains to Rye and the increase to the child care subsidy were proposed, the candidates repeated their parties’ answers.

Verni, like his fellow Repub-licans, painted HUD as the problem, saying it’s at fault for the loss of a $7.4 million federal block grant because it exceeded the original agreement with former Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano, a Democrat, by attempting to force an alternation to local zoning codes to require more affordable housing than was originally mandated in the settlement.

“What HUD is doing to overreach the settlement is they now want to require over the 27 units to be built here in Rye,” Verni said. “They’re looking for another 140 units to be built. They’re looking for that to be built in the 90/10 market rate to affordable structures, which means they want to see 1,400 new units built here in Rye.”

Verni also defended the current county administration’s progress by saying the HUD agreement was to have 300 units built by the end of this year and 395 units are already in the works to be built.

Parker, touting the Demo-cratic platform, said there is a great need in Westchester County for affordable housing and made her case by citing the 100 people in Rye and the 658 people in Mamaroneck that have Section 8 housing vouchers, which allow low-income tenants to buy housing where they wish.

Parker also attacked Verni for promoting Republican County Executive Rob Astorino’s stance, on HUD calling it a “scare tactic.”

“I’m very sorry that you’re echoing the tune from the top, and that the Astorino administration is putting out this scare tactic that we’re going to have to do much more than what we were originally asked to do,” Parker said.

Another issue the two candidates differed on was the state of childcare services for low-income families, with Verni defending the Astorino administration’s seven percent increase in the childcare subsidy by saying the 27 percent subsidy is still lower than neighboring counties.

“Other counties required that people pay 28, 29, up to 35 percent. The county Board of Legislators upped it to 27 percent to be more in line, and in doing so, opened up another 100 or so spots to get more people the childcare subsidy,” Verni said.

But, Parker said the increase is ripping a hole in the social services net and pointed the finger at the county administration.

“I think, whether we’re talking about childcare, healthcare centers or foreclosure prevention, the safety net that these things provide for our working poor is critical because everything I just named experienced significant cuts,” Parker said. “The offset [for the childcare subsidy increase] is an extra $60 a month for working parents…The short-sightedness of the administration that has made these cuts is, in my mind, a clear indication of somebody that cannot see the tree from the forest.”

One topic raised during the well-attended debate that both Parker and Verni agreed on was supporting Sustainable Playland’s vision for a new Playland.

Verni said he is supports redeveloping Playland.

“Playland, as we know, has been losing money under county control for the past 40 years. It loses $3 to $5 million a year,” Verni said. “And I think Catherine and I agree on the concept of Sustainable Playland. It will make it both economically sustainable and environmentally sustainable.”

While Parker agrees with the concept, she doesn’t agree with the process of how it has been handled at the county level. She said there has been little interaction between the administration and the Board of Legislators and the administration and the public.

“The administration withheld information from the Board of Legislators…They have a role in this in that they have to approve all the changes,” Parker said. “There has been only one public forum about Playland, and that was in February. The administration isn’t listening or working with the Board of Legislators or the people.”

Following the debate, Parker told The Mamaroneck Review that the withheld information she was referring to is the Playland Improvement Plan, which was submitted to Astorino in September, but wasn’t shown to the Board of Legislators until a few weeks ago.

Parker also wants to see more public involvement and for the county’s Government Operations Committee meetings to be held in Rye instead of county headquarters in White Plains.

Contact: christopher@hometwn.com

 
Political campaign signs have touched off controversy after the village’s Republican incumbents and Democratic challengers posted signs that were in violation of size regulations as outlined in the Mamaroneck Village Code. Mayoral candidate Clark Neuringer said he removed a noncompliant sign within hours, but incumbents Mayor Norman Rosenblum and Trustee Louis Santoro left theirs up, like this sign on the DeLancey House. 
Photo/Ashley Helms

Village election signage causes controversy, confusion

By ASHLEY HELMS

Campaign signage has caused some controversy after the village’s Republican and Democratic Board of Trustee candidates were notified that some of their political signs weren’t in compliance with size regulations, as outlined in the village code.

Political campaign signs have touched off controversy after the village’s Republican incumbents and Democratic challengers posted signs that were in violation of size regulations as outlined in the Mamaroneck Village Code. Mayoral candidate Clark Neuringer said he removed a noncompliant sign within hours, but incumbents Mayor Norman Rosenblum and Trustee Louis Santoro left theirs up, like this sign on the DeLancey House.  Photo/Ashley Helms

Political campaign signs have touched off controversy after the village’s Republican incumbents and Democratic challengers posted signs that were in violation of size regulations as outlined in the Mamaroneck Village Code. Mayoral candidate Clark Neuringer said he removed a noncompliant sign within hours, but incumbents Mayor Norman Rosenblum and Trustee Louis Santoro left theirs up, like this sign on the DeLancey House.
Photo/Ashley Helms

But Democratic mayoral candidate Clark Neuringer and trustee candidate Kerry Stein said they had their noncompliant signs removed, while Republicans Mayor Norman Rosenblum and Trustee Louis Santoro left theirs untouched due to an interpretation of village code that allows them to leave the signs up for 90 days after an issued violation.

Village Building Inspector Bill Gerety issued a notice of violation on Oct. 11 regarding Neuringer and Stein’s political banner on the property of Daniel S. Natchez and Associates, located on 916 East Boston Post Road. In the notice, Gerety states that Natchez’s sign exceeded the 16 square feet regulation.

According to the village code, political posters may also be created and placed without a permit provided they are “not exceeding 16 square feet, provided that: Placement shall not exceed 60 days before nor 30 days following the event.”

In a separate section, the code states that if the code enforcer finds any sign outlined in the chapter, which includes political signs, to be noncompliant or is a menace to the public, they can give written notice to the property owner.

As Gerety interpreted the village code, political posters and banners on a property cannot exceed a total of 16 square feet.

Village Manager Richard Slingerland said that according to the code, each individual sign can not exceed 16 square feet.

“We notified both campaigns of the issue and I believe they took respective action,” he said. “The Rosenblum campaign has questioned some other issues and the constitutionality of it.”

Due to the timing of when the violations were issued, the 90-day timeframe would allow property owners to leave the signs up until after the Nov. 5 election.

In a letter to Gerety, Natchez said it wasn’t one sign that he had on his property that was over 16 square feet, but rather three independent signs adjacent to each other. Natchez believed he was following village code, but removed the signs when he said he was notified that the 16 square feet rule was a cumulative measurement of all the political signs on a property.

“I believe in following the rules and if you make a mistake, you correct it,” Natchez said.

After a property owner on Fenimore Road was notified that a sign was too large, Neuringer said that it was taken down within three hours. A small political banner was placed next to a larger one, and Neuringer said that made it look like one complete sign, causing the violation.

“We immediately pulled down the banner and immediately were in compliance,” he said.

Regarding the Republicans’ signs, the Democrat said Rosenbl-um and Santoro are waiting until the election is over to remove their noncompliant signs because the 90-day window allows them to legally leave them in place.

Though Neuringer disagrees with Gerety’s interpretation of the village code with respect to the 16-foot cumulative rule, he said he and Stein complied nonetheless, adding that his opponents’ non-compliance with the building inspector’s order has to do with more than campaign signs.

“It has…to do with following the rules,” Neuringer said. “The building inspector makes the rules and the mayor says to forget about it.”

Santoro said he ran into the same issues with size compliance when he ran for re-election two years ago. Attempting to correct the issue this time, the trustee said he separated the signs so no one of them would be more than 16 square feet. Though the building inspector said the signs still weren’t in compliance after being separated, Santoro said he and Rosenblum are legally able to leave them in place regardless.

“[Rosenblum and I] are saying they’re separate signs, but the code enforcer said it isn’t in compliance, but we have 90 days. They told that to everyone else, too” he said.

The incumbents’ signs that were in violation are located on several places, including the DeLancey House on the corner of Fenimore Road and Boston Post Road, at the Mamaroneck Train Station, on Mamaroneck Avenue and Boston Post Road and on Boston Post Road by Harrison Avenue.

During an Oct. 28 Board of Trustees meeting, resident Allison Stabile asked why Rosenblum didn’t agree with the violation handed down by the building inspector.

“What does this mean for the way our rules are enforced?” she asked.

The mayor did not answer Stabile while she was speaking in front of the board, but gave a response later on after she left the meeting. He said that questions about the campaign signs and why he isn’t taking them down are nothing more than politically-driven behavior.

“I felt the signs that were discussed were well within our village code,” Rosenblum said. “It doesn’t surprise me it came out just before the election.”

Though Rosenblum said he too disagrees with Gerety’s interpretation of the law, he said the building inspector did his job well. The mayor said that he will leave the signs up until after the election because it’s part of the electoral process.

Regarding Neuringer’s attentiveness to the village code and criticism over his decision to leave the signs up, Rosenblum said it’s “hypocritical,” and said Neuringer supports the sign regulations, but violated the village ethics code.

Gerety could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Contact: ashley@hometwn.com

 
The six candidates vying for three open seats on the Rye City Council gathered to debate the issues one last time on Oct. 30 at the Rye Middle School. Photo/Liz Button

Council candidates’ debate calls for a return to respect

By LIZ BUTTON

More than 100 people filled the Rye Middle School multi-purpose room Wednesday night to watch the candidates for Rye City Council debate for the final time prior to Election Day.

The six candidates vying for three open seats on the Rye City Council gathered to debate the issues one last time on Oct. 30 at the Rye Middle School. Photo/Liz Button

The six candidates vying for three open seats on the Rye City Council gathered to debate the issues one last time on Oct. 30 at the Rye Middle School. Photo/Liz Button

After a relatively peaceful campaign spanning the last few months, the six hopefuls vying for three council spots had an hour to answer questions that covered such topics as the fate of Rye Golf Club, Sustainable Playland’s proposal to revamp the amusement park and the ongoing police union contract dispute with the city.

The theme of civility formed the basis of one of the night’s first questions; the topic has been a concern pervading Rye politics in recent years, most notably during the tenure of outgoing Republican Mayor Douglas French.

During the four years of the French administration, contentious City Council meetings have featured residents trading barbs with council members from the podium and elected officials sniping at each other on the dais.

The six council candidates, five of whom are newcomers to politics, have run a campaign that casts in sharp contrast to the spirited and occasionally nasty bouts of political bickering that have characterized the race between the two current councilmen vying for mayor.

Republican Councilman Joe Sack and Councilman Peter Jovanovich, a Republican running as an independent, have been at odds with each other over various issues during the last four years, and that longstanding animosity has spilled over into the campaign arena.

Sack has accused Jovanovich of ignoring potential embezzlement at the Rye Golf Club in the scandal’s early days, while Jovanovich has accused Sack of voting in an inexplicably contrarian fashion on basic city
issues like infrastructure and the library.

The only current council member running in this year’s City Council race is Julie Killian, a Republican who expressed disappointment in the conduct that has been displayed at council meetings.

Killian, who was appointed last June to fill the council position vacated by Suzanna Keith, and re-elected last November in an uncontested race, attributed her accomplishments over the last year in part to a respectful attitude toward her fellow council members.

“I feel like I have been very collegial among my council members and I have enjoyed meeting all my fellow friends that are running here,” Killian said. “I feel like I have gotten things done on council because of the way I am there.”

Killian, who is running on Sack’s Rye United ticket, was joined on the dais by Democrats Meg Cameron and Shari Punyon—the Democrats chose not to run a mayoral candidate this year.

Killian said she hopes Sack will not be afraid to use the gavel as mayor because those who approach the podium at meetings should be held to the regulation five minutes of speaking time and to a high standard of conduct.

“If someone does make a personal attack they should be stopped, whether that is a person on council or someone coming there to speak,” she said.

Also running on the Republican Rye United ticket are Terry McCartney and Kirstin Bucci, a registered Democrat.

Bucci said that, when it comes to the City Council, the important issue really comes down to respect.

“I think that we have all sat in rooms where people disagree with us, and I think sometimes the best ideas are born of disagreement. It is just a matter of how you handle the disagreement,” she said.

In his closing statement, non-affiliated candidate Jason Mehler, who is running on the Independence line, thanked his fellow candidates for running a civil campaign and for the night’s debate.

“I would like to thank all the candidates here tonight for running a respectful and positive campaign. It means a lot to me that that’s been done,” Mehler said.

The theme of respect was also reflected in a wide variety of topics, including a question about Sustainable Playland’s proposal that includes a controversial 95,000 square foot fieldhouse in the parking lot there, which abuts a residential area.

When candidates were asked whether they supported the non-profit’s plan, Punyon said the original picture that citizens and council people were presented with was not what the city now seemed to be in for, which is a greatly expanded plan that incldues a gigantic fieldhouse.

In the end, however, the real issue was that the current City Council did not pay adequate attention to the concerns of the smaller contingent of vocal citizens who first approached them with concerns about the SPI plan, Punyon said. Only after they were bombarded at the last council meeting on Oct. 23 by a swarm of residents who spoke out sharply against the proposal did they pledge their action and support.

“When those [first] citizens brought it forward, the City Council dismissed them,” she said. “The issue is that the City Council was not looking carefully enough to protect the citizens’ rights. Every backyard should be the City Council’s backyard. Every person in Rye deserves to have their interests paid attention to by the City Council. And that didn’t happen.”

Contact: liz@hometwn.com

 
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Walsh campaign practices deemed unfair

By PHIL NOBILE

A recent review of Democratic mayoral candidate Joan Walsh’s campaign practices found multiple instances of her campaign’s literature to be unfair. The report by the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee was released publicly on Oct. 23.election_circle1

The investigation into Walsh’s campaign practices came after incumbent Mayor Ron Belmont, a Republican, filed grievances against Walsh and the Joan Walsh Team. The county committee, which is based in Larchmont and consists of community leaders who serve as unpaid volunteers, came to a decision regarding four complaints filed on behalf of Belmont, finding three-out-of-four to be “unfair.”

“The stuff that was coming out was untrue and misleading,” Belmont told The Harrison Review this week.

In the official filing, Belmont complained of the wording in Walsh’s campaign literature given out to the public dealing with the MTA project, which has been a hot-button issue in town during the campaign season.

The Walsh literature that was ruled unfair states, “…what happened to the proposed MTA development in the Halstead Avenue commuter lots? The proposal went out to bid in fall 2011. Builders sent in bids. Who won the bid? What modifications were agreed to? When will construction start? When will the tax dollars start coming in?….Why haven’t there been updates by the town board?”

Due to a confidentiality agreement between the town and MTA, Belmont argued that both himself and the Town Council were unable to update the public about the progress being made on the project. The committee agreed and stated that Walsh, a former town mayor, was aware of the confidentiality agreement restricting the mayor and the Town Council from discussing updates. The ruling concluded Walsh knew this because of her status as a signatory to the same agreement during her years in office prior to Belmont.

“Anyone that’s asked me, I’ve said more than I was supposed to,” Belmont said. “I’ve told business owners in town and I’ve told them we’re moving in the right direction and it looks good, and that’s all I can say. It’s just a matter of time.”

When asked if she would change her campaign literature as a result of the report, Walsh said no and expressed complete disagreement with the committee’s findings. Walsh said her literature was used to notify people of the project who may not have known about it.

“Many people in town don’t know what the project is, because it’s been going on for seven years,” Walsh said. “The reason for the questions was so people would know what we were talking about.”

Walsh expressed further frustration regarding the handling of the MTA project by the Belmont administration.

“The developer for the project was chosen in fall 2011,” Walsh said. “How many projects really take this long from where you get the bids back and there is some decision? I think you owe the town an update as it makes a major difference in the downtown area. The committee decided that confidentiality trumped that.”

The committee has no power to stop or discipline candidates and their potential falsehoods, but instead “encourages candidates to conduct campaigns openly and fairly, to discuss issues, to refrain from dishonest and defamatory attacks, and not to use campaign materials that distort the facts.”

The only actions the committee takes are releasing their findings to the public.

Suzan Schwarz, chairwoman of the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee, said unfairness is determined on the basis of misleading or misinformation, and that the committee hopes all practices deemed so will be changed.

“We ask that it be corrected,” Schwarz said. “All we have is the press and the backing of the parties and we hope they’ll spread the word about what makes a good campaign.”

Another complaint filed by Belmont against Walsh ultimately deemed unfair was regarding new bonds purchased by the town. Walsh’s campaign literature states “new bonds mean increasing interest payments and increased taxes,” which the committee declared unfair because “new bonds do not necessarily mean higher taxes, particularly in a case such as this that includes opportunities to refinance existing bonds with overall lower interest rates,” according to the report.

Not all of Belmont’s grievances were successful, though.

Belmont’s claim that Walsh exaggerated the town’s debt figures was deemed inconclusive by the committee.

Belmont complained that the number thrown out in Walsh’s literature, $71.3 million to describe the debt the town has acrued, differs from the actual number of $64.7 million which the town owes in outstanding debt. The committee ultimately said that the figures from both parties did not prove fair or unfair because it wasn’t “false or misleading enough to make a finding,” according to Schwarz. “You can crunch numbers in different ways,” the committee chairwoman said. “It wasn’t up to the level of fair or unfair that we demand.”

According to Walsh, her numbers took into account increased interest and taxes accrued over time, while Mayor Belmont said he didn’t think the committee “understood exactly where we were trying to go” with the complaint.

Walsh planned to submit her own complaint to the committee regarding tactics used by the Belmont campaign concerning billboard signage conflicts in downtown Harrison and the Silver Lake area but decided against doing so because the committee only accepts complaints pertaining to mailings and advertisements.

 

CONTACT: phil@hometwn.com

Photo/Ashley Helms

County legislator candidates: Sheila Marcotte

Sheila Marcotte

Photo/Ashley Helms

Photo/Ashley Helms

Age: 48

Political affiliation: Republican nominee

Status: Incumbent

Party endorsements: Conservative and Independence

Years in district: 15

Occupation: County legislator with real estate on the side

Family: Thomas, 21, Meghan, 19, Matthew, 17, Kevin, 13

Community involvement: Former president of the Eastchester Historical Society, Columbus Day committee member, founder of the history camp, founder of Tuckahoe Snow Angels, Beautification Committee

One thing that the average voter doesn’t know about you: “I can trace my lineage all the way back to the Revolutionary War to Samuel Lovering, who was in the battle of Winter Hill.”

Q: What is your stance on the Sustainable Playland plan for the county-owned amusement park? Some concerned residents have cited traffic, parking and noise issues in connection with the 95,000 sq. foot indoor sports facility SPI has proposed within its Playland Improvement Plan. 

A: I’m in favor of it, quite frankly. No matter who would end up being the operator or leaser, you’re going to have traffic. It’s an amusement park; you’re going to have noise. I do think that SPI is the better of the proposals. We did a thorough review of all of the proposals and a process of elimination. But SPI’s financial set-up is the best for the county. They’re proposing to have everything operating separately, if you will. If one fails, it won’t impact the rest of the park. It also uses the entire park and there’s no admission fee. I think there are a lot more positives financially, space-wise and aesthetically. It’s going to preserve all of the historic rides and so forth.

Q: Your opponent has been quoted as calling you a “Tea Party conservative,” and has said you haven’t defended county essential services. What are some of your specific plans for maintaining services like childcare for working families and working collaboratively with people across the political spectrum? 

A: My opponent has called me a lot of names. She has spent a great deal of her campaign choosing different names to call me. Calling my opinion of the [Department of Housing and Urban Development] case for example, she has stated that I’m using scare tactics. With regard to essential services, this 2013 budget did an excellent job in maintaining the essential services that we provide, and, while my opponent likes to throw out these comments, I’ve asked her repeatedly to identify what she calls a gaping hole in the safety net. She has yet to do that.

Since 2010, the three years that I have been there, we have strengthened the safety net. We have added $29 million to it. This coalition budget added $3.6 million on top of what Robert Astorino suggested. It is a fact that, if the only obstacle to a mother getting a job is childcare, they are eligible for what is called guaranteed childcare for up to a year. We have covered all of the areas. We have “dotted our I’s and crossed our T’s” and if you are eligible, no one gets turned away from the childcare grant.

Q: How do you differ from your opponent on the affordable housing settlement? In what direction do you think the county should go?

A: My opponent has used words or phrases or has referred to me as using scare tactics and I don’t even know what she means by that because she hasn’t identified a quote or anything I’ve said or anything I’ve written. I would like to know where she stands with regard to if HUD says to the county, “you must litigate against the municipalities,” who will she stand with? Will she stand with HUD? Or will she stand with Eastchester and Tuckahoe in District 10? I will not go to sue these municipalities.

The monitor stated that he could find no evidence of exclusionary zoning based on ethnicity or race. No evidence whatsoever. So HUD turns around, takes the money back, and says “unless you make a statement and admit you have exclusionary zoning, you won’t get the $7.4 million.” And the county wasn’t going to do that and even the monitor said he couldn’t find any exclusionary zoning. And the monitor said, “what will you do to dismantle local zoning.” Those are his words, they’re not mine.

Q: What are some of your specific plans to deal with flooding?

A: I’m actually going to hopefully do a mini river rescue of my own this weekend with some of the council members in Eastchester. Basically, it’s going to get a bunch of people together for areas of the Bronx River that need to be cleaned out. I’m actually working on that now and getting some volunteers. That’s what I would do. Ground water is a big problem. One of the things that Eastchester did when it rewrote its zoning codes was increase the impervious surface so you couldn’t come in and just concrete everything. Once you do that, it obviously doubles the amount of water. They greatly diminished that now.

Q: Some residents were critical with the county executive’s decision to borrow money for the 2013 budget to help keep taxes flat. Do you think this was a good idea?

A: Nobody wanted to do that. The Republicans didn’t want to do it and the Democrats didn’t want to do it. We put it in the budget that we will agree to bond for this in November, we’ll put it in the budget and we don’t go to the market until November, but if there is a surplus in cash and there is extra money, it must go towards paying for that. That was the deal we made and that is exactly what happened. It was not bonded for at all. There was no borrowing for it, period. And that is what we had hoped for and he made the announcement two months ago.

Q: How would you preserve county green space while also allowing for smart development to bring in extra revenue?

A: I don’t think we really have to do anything in that regard because it’s protected space and it’s very difficult to have it removed. Tuckahoe, Eastchester and probably New Rochelle have never put a proposal forward to build. I think we do an exceptional job at protecting our green space. The county legislature doesn’t have a say in development, but it speaks directly to the HUD issue. HUD would very much like for everyone to adopt, and these are their words, a uniform zoning code. Eastchester and Tuckahoe are two of the 31 eligible municipalities. Ten years ago, Eastchester rewrote the entire zoning code. It was Anthony Colavita’s undertaking when he became supervisor. We literally rewrote the code to preserve green space, smart development, preventing sprawl, the whole nine yards. These are the things that are very important to municipalities. Their codes are extremely important to preserving green space and the environment. HUD doesn’t take any of that into consideration when they try to force a one size fits all zoning on municipalities.

Q: If re-elected, what are your priorities?

A: Clearly it’s spending. I’ve been a big opponent of wasteful spending by the Board of Legislators. We have this thing called short-formed contract and there’s little or no oversight, truly. I go through those contracts; I look at them and what I’d like to see is the contracts posted online in their entirety so people know how their money is being spent. It’s ambiguous, it’s so not transparent, and that’s something I hope to get done, if re-elected, in the next session. And, of course taxes; always trying to keep them in check and being cognizant that people have had enough.

-Reporting by Ashley Helms