Rye City Council candidates: Kirstin Bucci

Bucci-1Kirstin Bucci
Age: 41
Status: Challenger
Political Affiliation: Running as a Republican, registered Democrat
Endorsements: Conservative and Independence partiesNumber of years lived in Rye: 10

Occupation: Mom. Former Wall Street equity research analyst
Family: Husband and three daughters
Community involvement:  Rye Youth Soccer, Osborn School parent volunteer
One thing the average voter doesn’t know about you: We have a dog named Mindy.

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 on this in terms of increasing oversight at all levels?

A: Specifically, with respect to the Rye Golf Club, I have to give the strategic committee credit. They have implemented a lot of things that most people who run a business would think are already in place: things like monthly reporting. Basic things like the person who makes the initial request for something isn’t the same person who submits the invoice. There should be a separation there. They have done a lot of those things and that is great. There is probably a little room for more and we could probably do better at getting the golf commission more timely information so that they can participate in decisions.
But the one thing I would say: In terms of structural change in the city government, I think we need to change the charter to allow for City Council members to request information or meet with department heads on their own. Not that you would not copy the mayor, and not that you wouldn’t go through the city manager as well, but I think having to go through the mayor and only through the mayor creates a bottleneck. And second, if we’re elected as City Council people, I think it’s our responsibility to protect all the taxpayers and their dollars and I’m very happy to do that, but I also want to have the information to do that.

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

A: I think audits [like the city organization-wide audit proposed by Democratic candidates Meg Cameron and Shari Punyon] are good. I think that’s great, but we had an audit and identified the issues. I don’t think we need two audits that say the same thing. I think we just need to read and pay attention and act on the audit that we have.

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: Anyone’s performance is based on more than one specific area, so, while a person might fall short in one area, there are other areas where they do ok.
My understanding is the City Council and mayors are supposed to perform performance evaluations on the city manager. Let’s do that. Every six months or year or whatever timeframe it is, let’s check in. Everybody who’s had a job has had performance reviews, at least annually, so that seems like a really good place to start.

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 because the police commissioner plays such a central role in managing the city and that person will work very closely with whoever is mayor on Jan.1 as well as the city manager, I think it makes sense to wait until the new City Council and mayor are in place so that that police commissioner can start in a place where everyone is on board and have a really good working relationship from the beginning. That would seem to me to benefit everybody.

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

A: 1) Getting Rye Golf Club a long-term plan and returning the entire operation to profitability so that they have long-term sustainability. I think the strategic committee has done a lot of the good work of instituting checks and balances but part of that plan would be to finish that job.
2) Negotiating fair contracts with the police, fire and the DPW. There are three contracts that are up in January, but the police haven’t had a contract in a long time. I think that is a priority.
3) Basic infrastructure needs that are obvious. At the top of that list, I would put the train station. I don’t commute but I do ride my bike and down there, the road is so broken and choppy and completely messed up. That seems like an easy fix.

Q: What are some of the city’s infrastructure needs that you think require more attention?

A: The train station, for certain. We need to think more specifically about flood mitigation and the way we’re going to handle flooding moving forward. I think we’ve also done a lot for repairing sidewalks. I still think there are places where we can do better with things like that. I want to keep the list small because we also have to have money to pay for these things.

Q: Why are you running?

A: We’ve lived in Rye for 10 years and have been members of Rye Golf Club all that time and as Rye Golf Club kept losing money, lots of people kept thinking, ‘Why?’ Dues kept going up, though there seemed to be plenty of people there,
so why?
Then it became clear what was happening and I felt like members at Rye Golf Club weren’t necessarily treated with the respect that they could have been. I felt like the willingness to investigate concerns was lacking and that’s how I became more involved with Joe [Sack] and I sort of witnessed his frustration along the way of trying to resolve the issue [related to ease of access to information] and figure out what was happening. And so, [Sack] suggested running.
I think that while we know the issue with Rye Golf Club is very specific to that one thing, I also think that in some ways it is indicative of a larger problem. I think that, together Rye United and all the people on the City Council can help Rye move to a better place.
–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.