Democratic county legislator candidates

Parker

Councilwoman Catherine Parker, a Rye Democrat, is facing-off against former Village of Mamaroneck Trustee Tom Murphy in a Democratic primary. Photo/Ashley Helms

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Catherine Parker
Age: 47
Political Affiliation: Independent, Democrat as of Jan. 1, 2014
Endorsements: Independence Party
Political experience: Rye City councilwoman since 2007
Place of residence: Rye
Occupation: Business owner
Family: Husband David Walker, daughter Julia, son Aidan
Community involvement: Advisory board of Rye Arts Center; past president of the League of Women Voters of Rye; Rye Brook and Port Chester; Rye Presbyterian Sunday school teacher; liaison on the Rye City Council to Playland; police pension fund; senior advocacy group; fire department; Rye Arts Center and central business district.
One thing the average voter doesn’t know about you:
“I was selected for former Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project.”

Q: You and your opponent have only been local elected officials. What makes you think you would perform the role of a county legislator well?

A: My feeling is this: You should have somebody who is in that role who is really knowledgeable on issues. I think that the question of taxes versus services is something that—I don’t care if you’re Republican, Democrat or an independent—I hear more and more people saying is
really an issue. I’ve worked on flood mitigation; it’s incredibly important for the whole district. Again, as I’ve said many times, water doesn’t know municipal boundaries and environmental issues are really important. If I’m elected, I really want that to be part of my legacy.

Q: You and your opponent agreed on a number of points in the debate at the Mamaroneck Town Center, but what sets you apart ideologically in terms of the issues and in terms of your approach to governing?

A: I feel that I’ve defined my priorities as taxes, the environment and flood mitigation, and I’ve also given some ideas of what I would do to improve those concerns. I think that’s maybe a difference between my opponent and myself in that I have a very clear vision of what I want to focus on.

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

A: Taxes and services, and understanding that we really have to look at ways to reduce the tax burden and understanding that you have to do a cost-benefit analysis. The Republican administration has made cuts, but the cuts are penny-wise, pound-foolish on how to make some savings. It’s not going to be savings in the long run if you’re forcing people onto greater social services.

Q: For the record, what is your stance on the issue of Playland, and its future as a county-owned amusement park? Do you support the county executive’s agreement with Sustainable Playland?

A: I grew up in northern Westchester and, every summer, my mom would bring me down to Playland and it was the highlight of my summer. I want to be clear, I love Playland and I would not let anything happen that would jeopardize it from going on forever; it would be over my dead body. What I said at the debate is the other part of how I see Playland. For many years, and not just during Astorino’s administration, I feel that the county has not done the best job with Playland. It hasn’t been maintained because there’s a real cost and, at this point, it needs something pretty extreme for a facelift.
I think that the plan that has been chosen, Sustainable Playland, and working with Central Amusements, is a good plan. I think that Sustainable Playland is accurately finding other business models that will fit within the footprint of Playland that will work. It’s a gem and it can just be run better and will be more profitable and will certainly be something that people will rediscover.

-Reporting by Ashley Helms

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Murphy-1

Former Village of Mamaroneck trustee Tom Murphy is running against Rye City Councilwoman Catherine Parker in the Democratic Primary in the race for District 7 county legislator. The primary is Sept. 10. Photo/Liz Button

Tom Murphy
Age: 52
Political affiliation: Registered Democrat
Endorsements: Working Families Party
Political experience: Former trustee in the Village of Mamaroneck, served for 6 years
Place of residence: Village of Mamaroneck
Occupation: Elevator mechanic
Family: Three children: 21-year-old daughter, 17-year-old son,
12-year-old son.
Community involvement: member of Coastal Zone Management Commission in the Village of Mamaroneck, coached baseball and basketball throughout the years, village Recreation Commission, member of the Mamaroneck Coastal Environmental Coalition.
One thing the average voter doesn’t know about you:
“I like to read history books.”

Q: You and your opponent, have always only been local elected officials. What makes you think you would perform the role of a county legislator well?

A: I think local politics, and especially being in local politics in Mamaroneck, is sometimes a hothouse of different social and economic issues that prepares you well for the county. Mamaroneck is in a lot of ways a microcosm of the county.

Q: You and your opponent agreed on a number of points in the debate at the Mamaroneck Town Center, but what sets you apart ideologically in terms of the issues and in terms of your approach to governing?

A: When you’re a legislator, you have to think about what laws you want to have passed, and I think the only person who talked about a law they wanted to enact at that debate was me. One of the ways to restore trust in government is to take the pay-to-play perception that people have out of government. To do that, I would prohibit folks who are elected to county government from accepting contributions from folks who have contracts with Westchester County.

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

A: Besides passing the ethics law, I want to make sure the community gets all the resources that it possibly can to mitigate flooding and to prepare for the change in global climate. I was a trustee in 2007 when we had a catastrophic flood, and I saw what that did to people’s lives. We also have to continue to provide first-class services in Westchester while being mindful of the tax burden faced by homeowners.

Q: For the record, what is your stance on the issue of Playland and its future as a county-owned amusement park? Do you support the county executive’s agreement with Sustainable Playland?

A: I think the plan that [Republican County Executive] Rob Astorino and Catherine Parker are touting is a bad plan for the county and for Playland. It’s called Sustainable Playland and that’s an oxymoron because it’s not going to be Playland afterwards, and it is not going to be sustainable. What I’d like to see that would really be a great addition is the children’s museum, and I think, in a lot of ways, that works in tandem with the amusement park. Sustainable Playland has no experience running an amusement park and what they want to do is get rid of half of the rides, and the park will wither on the vine, in my opinion.

Q: Do you credit the county executive with stemming the tax hikes that became prevalent under the Spano administration? What would you do differently to alleviate that tax burden on residents of Westchester?

A: I think that what you have to realize is the county executive proposes the budget and the county legislature approves the budget. I think the county legislature actually approved the budget a couple years ago that was less and had a greater tax cut than Astorino had proposed. What you have to realize about the county executive is that he’s borrowed a lot of money to keep the tax rate low.

-Reporting by Liz Button

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About Liz Button

Liz Button is a staff reporter for Hometown Media Group’s The Rye Sound Shore Review. Previously, she covered Bedford and Mount Kisco for The Daily Voice, an Internet-based, hyperlocal publication. She’s also written for Patch in her hometown of Trumbull, Conn., as a freelance reporter and fill-in editor. Preceding her time there, she worked in publishing in New York City. She is a 2008 graduate of Bowdoin College with a degree in English. Reach Liz at 914-653-1000 x20 or liz@hometwn.com; follow her on Twitter @ryesoundshore.