Rye City Council candidates: Terry McCartney

Terry-McCartneyAge: 50
Status: Challenger
Political affiliation: Republican nominee
Party Endorsements: Conservative
Occupation: Attorney at Rheingold, Valet, Rheingold, McCartney & Giuffra, partner since 2001; trial lawyer with product liability concentration
Years in Rye: 13
Family: Wife Julia McCartney, sons Jack, college freshman at Northwestern, and Daniel McCartney, NW BOCES student
Community involvement: Past Rye Little League coach and board member, past Rye Resurrection Church CYO basketball coach; past Sound Shore Youth Football coach and board membe; Rye Boxing Club coach and founder, and past Rye Football Association board member.
One thing the average voter doesn’t know about you: “I run the Rye Boxing program in the winter.”

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: I think they have taken some steps, but I think there is a lot more that we can do. I think the most important thing we need to do over there is support the golf club commission more than we do and I don’t think it is as a good idea to add three mayor-appointed commissioners. The mayor may not even mean golf club members. I think the commissioners are in the best position to know what needs to be done over there. I think we need to ensure that they have the information they need. I certainly don’t think we need a second and third audit. I think the audit that we had had the information in it, we just didn’t act on it. And that is where the oversight comes in. I think the City Council has to be able to ask department heads questions and get answers so that the city manager is not the only gatekeeper. That’s according to the charter. We have to change the charter and hopefully we can get that done in the new administration.

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 Scott Pickup?

A: I think that everyone is responsible and accountable for their job performance and I think the administration needs to look at his job performance—his overall job performance, not just the things he did badly because he has done some things well. So, I think his overall job performance has to be evaluated and the appropriate action taken. Going back to my Marine Corps experience, in the Marine Corps every six months you get a fitness report or if you are an enlisted guy you get proficiency and conduct marks every six months so you know how you are doing. If you have had a year and a half of bad fitness reports and bad proficiency and conduct marks, then you don’t get promoted, and you understand why. I don’t know what has been done with Scott Pickup. I don’t know if he has been evaluated every six months. If not, we need to start that process because it is unfair to try to hold somebody accountable when they have not been told, “You have been deficient,” so maybe that is something we can start.

Q: With news that William Connors is resigning as police commissioner in January, how should the city go about hiring a new police commissioner? Should it be handled before or after the election?

A: I definitely think it should be handled after because, first of all, I think that it is likely that the new commissioner will be in that role for many years, 10 or 12 years or however many, and so the first four of his tenure will be with the next City Council. I think it’s only fair that the next City Council be intimately involved in the process of hiring that person and in an executive search, even if they started now, they will make decisions that will cull the field so that if we  start now, by the time we get in in January, they will have already culled the field down and we might be left with 10 candidates or something like that, so I think they should wait.

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

A: I am a commuter, so I am a little bit biased, but I strongly feel that our number one priority in Rye should be correcting the train station parking lot. It is really bad, it is unsafe, and it’s a miracle to me that people are not hurt over there more than they are. So, that would be my number one priority. It’s also sort of the entry point to Rye. A lot of people come to Rye through the train station and that’s the first view they get of this wonderful town. It’s not good. I think the train station is a pretty easy fix.
I think the crosswalks around the schools and where the apartment buildings, like Blind Brook Lodge, is going to get a new parking lot across the street so we need to maybe take a look at that crosswalk there because there are a lot of elderly residents and families over there.
And then I think everyone, especially the Indian village folks, cares about flood mitigation, which is tougher. It’s not just a city issue, it’s a county issue.

Q: How would you grade the current administration and why? Please give a letter grade.

A: I would give them a D and it’s primarily because of the civility issue. The golf scandal shows that there wasn’t good oversight. The fact that if you watch a City Council meeting, it’s embarrassing to be a Rye resident and to watch one of our City Council meetings, and to me that just shows a lack of leadership. It shows that it’s being tolerated and that the mayor is not setting a good example and he is tolerating that sort of behavior, so I think a D, maybe a D+.

Q: Do you feel that the city is currently understaffed? Would you add personnel?

A: I think that is another reason the City Council and the mayor in the last administration were able to keep our taxes down: There were layoffs, so that’s something I think I’d have to be privy to City Council-type information before I could say we need to hire three people, here, and two people there, but that’s how you keep taxes down: You lay people off. Once again, it has effects. There are probably morale issues in certain understaffed departments, so I think that’s where that balancing comes back in.

Q: With numerous district attorney investigations centering on the city, what do you think is at the root of the problem and what would you do to address it?

A: I think each one is different and you have to look at what happened and a lot of it comes back to this leadership. If you set a certain tone that you are interested in providing oversight. The way it is set up now, the city manager is the gatekeeper to just about everything to the extent that he answers to the mayor. I would like to see the city charter change so that City Council members can do their oversight function and ask questions and get answers because oversight, the way it is now, the city manager doesn’t provide that oversight. The mayor is not asking him the hard questions and no one else has the authority to ask the hard questions. People gloss over when you use the word “leadership,” and I guess it’s because of my military background, but leadership is important and I think it is not something a lot of people place value in in Rye, but that is really what I bring to the table. I think that’s why I was approached and asked to run.
 
Q: What will be your three most important priorities in office, if elected?

A: First and foremost, I think we need to return civility and professional, respectful behavior to the City Council, and I think that just starts with good leadership at the top. A good leader sets the tone, sets the example and can run those meetings much more professionally than they are being run now, so that would be my number one priority. That kind of covers a lot of different things that come up but I would start there.
Second, I think we need to resolve the Rye Golf Club issues once and for all.
Third, to reach a contract with the police department. The fire department’s and DPW’s contracts are coming up in January, as well.
-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.