Political affiliation: Republican nominee
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