Photo/Ashley Helms

Rye City mayoral candidates: Nancy Silberkleit

Nancy Silberkleit

Photo/Ashley Helms

Photo/Ashley Helms

Age: 59

Political Affiliation: Non-affiliated

Political experience: None

Party Endorsements: None

Years lived in Rye: 25

Occupation: Current co-CEO Archie comics, former art teacher

Education: B.A. from Boston College

Birthplace: New Jersey

Family: One daughter

Community involvement: Past member of Jr. League, Girl Scout leader

One thing the average voter doesn’t know about you: “Passionate and committed to making a positive impact.”

Q: Do you support Sustainable Playland’s plan, with includes a controversial proposal to build a 95,000 square foot fieldhouse close to a residential area?

A: I am for Sustainable Playland. We have a crumbling site over there. It is a historical site. SPI is a team and has the knowledge and success and expertise behind them. But I will never give my thumbs up to a 95,000 square foot site. I am there for the homeowners, as though I am living right in the house that is abutting that parking lot. I am there for the sky, for the border, for the seagrass, for the sand. You’ve got to speak for nature, you have to speak for the homeowners. You cannot devalue their land by just throwing up this structure. Go over to Whole Foods. It is 45,000 square feet, they are telling me, and I am trying to count the parking spaces. I don’t know how they are going to handle all that traffic. I am also being told the site is being built on landfill. They have to do some soil testing over there, because it could be contaminated. Have they done their homework? I don’t like pointing fingers, but how has the City Council gotten to this point?

Q: Do you think Whitby Castle can become successful again as a city-run facility?

A: Absolutely. But the city must look at Whitby Castle. They have to create a theme. It can’t just be the Whitby Castle anymore. Like Blue Hill [restaurant in Pocantico Hills], you have to create something very unique and just very special, because that is what is going to drive people there. Why not call in Daniel Ballou? Call in a chef that has a name. I cannot imagine a chef not wanting to take over Whitby Castle that has one of the most exquisite views and ambiances. It should be used for events. I mean, if I was getting married again, that is where I would want to have my wedding. It is gorgeous, but they have to stop looking at it as just Whitby Castle and put on our marketing hat.

Q: Do you think the City Council’s performance suffered due to too much attention being devoted to the Rye Golf Club scandal?

A: Attention like that is never good and it can deter people from really looking at the root of the problem. When you are dealing with a person that would do such an egregious act of stealing from the people: These people have studied for a long time how to do this, they know how to work the City Council, they know how to work a person. They’re very clever it, so I could not really point my finger at the City Council right now. The City Council did have to deal with this drama, which distracted from doing good business. When someone is handling your money, you have to understand completely with 100 percent satisfaction where that disbursement is going. So, if someone is telling you something, maybe you even want to drive to the address where that disbursement is going. Because you’re dealing with other people’s money.

Q: In 2010, the current administration decided to promote Scott Pickup to the city manager and eliminate the assistant city manager position? Do you believe this was a mistake?

A: Understaffing is not a good thing. People are going to City Hall and finding out it is closed. People are going to the library and they are finding out it’s closed. We’re trying to work within budgets. When you’re running a city, you have a tremendous amount of responsibility. I think understaffing could have been one of the reasons [the golf club scandal] did not get exposed more quickly. But again, I really cannot comment because I do not have all the details.

Q: Name one way in which you differ from each of your opponents.

A: I have that female thing going for me. I am a teacher and I can communicate in a very engaging way in a manner that 15,720 people will take notice and understand what’s going on. And I think it is my job as mayor to try as hard as I can to present City Hall and our town in a way that is engaging. I want the town to be run like it’s a business. Today’s communities are different. America is different. The land of opportunity is different. We’re all struggling financially and we can’t keep saying, “We don’t have the money for this, we don’t have the money for that.” Let’s become creative.

Q: Recent reports show police enforcement statisitcs are significantly down from prior years. Should that be a concern?

A: So now our [police] commissioner has stepped down. And all I can say about that, because I am not in and not getting reports as to what’s going on within our police department, whenever there is understaffing, things cannot run that smoothly. We’re talking about understaffing, but I’m also talking about the police commissioner, and how do we run the city in a positive way to generate money. So, instead of just having just a police commissioner for ourselves, I would present to the City Council why don’t we make this a position that can be shared with other communities? Let’s do business wisely.

Q: If elected, what would you do to address the myriad of infrastructure and parking issues at the train station?

A: That is something I am going to be delighted to get involved in. It is up to Metro-North, but I think I will be the mayor that will be able to get Metro-North to sit down and see what they have to do for us. You need to get someone who can knock on that door and get the attention of the appropriate people. I think my personality and the way I can communicate will get everybody at Metro-North to come over and want to do something about the conditions there.

Q: One of the most important attributes of being a mayor is the ability to build consensus and bring people together. What evidence can you offer voters that you would be able to accomplish that?

A: It seems everybody I am meeting enjoys speaking to me. I don’t want it to be one certain group of people. I am looking for 15,720 people to be back in my classroom, to be in my City Hall, I want them to interested, I want them to be engaged.

Q: What do you think is the biggest issue facing Rye?

A: Taxes. I don’t think people are looking at it, but things are crumbling and it has been left ignored for too long. Pretty soon, they will see it because it is only going to get worse. I do not think they are aware of the infrastructure that has to get taken care of now. And how do you do that? With money. And what is that going to do? Raise your taxes. But I don’t want to go that route. I want to start generating that money now. I want to see how we can utilize the money. I want to bring in a grant writer. We cannot let our taxes keep getting out of hand. I want to see line by line by line what we have done to get to this point.

Q: What next step would you take to address the issue of flooding?

A: I believe in communication and I don’t believe in waiting until a catastrophe happened and I think it is imperative that we start making sure our people want to hear important messages. I’m going to be wrapping things into speech bubbles. I am going to find a way to get people into City Hall, turning on the channel, reading information and being informed. During Hurricane Sandy, it was chaos. Maybe it would be wise for communities to have someone volunteer as a focal point for communication in the neighborhood.

Q: How would you grade the current administration? 

A: I will not give a grade; that to me is negative. I would never do that. My students all got an A because how could I say to that child their creativity is below someone else’s? But these are people who are volunteering their time. Whenever people volunteer their time, you have to respect them for that.

Q: If elected, what would your top three priorities be?

A: Communication: That is something that is immediately wanting. When people are saying how come we didn’t know about the 95,000 square foot field house? How come we didn’t know about the golf club? I am about getting people interested in their town.

Second, implementing programs to generate money. We need to fix our roads and sidewalks. We passed a bond to do the bare minimum and I was disappointed in the way my tax dollar was used. Let’s take the parking meters and let’s have them taking credit cards. I want to start a brick campaign. I want people to put their name on a brick and use them to make brick paths. People will donate to this pool of money we are growing that then can be used other places. Third, parking lots. People are coming to our town and they are shopping here and eating here, so let’s make as much money as we can with our parking lots. We could take a parking lot and get a developer. Mamaroneck has a wonderful two-tier parking lot. I have been hanging out in town and between noon and 2 p.m. on weekdays you can’t find a parking space. So we could move parking behind TD Bank and create a two or three-tier lot. We have 17th century history. Let’s bring out that 17th century into streets. Let’s have people in 17th century garb selling a tour. Rye is a very special town. We have history, we have water. We are an unusual town. Let’s make money from our town.

-Reporting by Liz Button