Political affiliation: Democratic nominee
Party endorsements: Mamaroneck First
Years in Village: 38
23 years on every village land use board, sat on board of the Washingtonville Housing Alliance for 20 years
Family: Children: Shane, 42, Keir, 37, Megan, 35
What’s one thing the average voter doesn’t know about you?:
“Done work as an architect for two or more commercial businesses on Mamaroneck Avenue; had a grand opening for a business in industrial area for a glass company.”
Q: Why did you decide to run?
A: It was not an easy decision. I’m not a politician; I’ve spent almost my entire life in Mamaroneck volunteering to serve the community. This time around, aside from some enormous push and pressure from some people I respect in the village, in the last four years, I’ve seen the village going in a certain direction that has been bothersome to me. Primarily, things focused around an environmental nature and especially land use decisions. It has offended me that I have been sensing that major land use decisions have been coming about in an impulsive manner without much thought or consideration. I’ve heard derogatory statements from my opponents by passing off time to think about things as “paralysis by analysis.”
Q: Protecting open space and the village’s coastal heritage and character is a concern that many of Mamaroneck residents consider to be of high importance. How will you preserve the village’s uniqueness and green space while promoting smart development?
A: The Village of Mamaroneck is a mature, developed built-up community, so when we hear ongoing, continuous development or the village will die of atrophy, where exactly are we going to develop? We have a limited amount of open space now. We are going to leave this place to our children to preserve almost every ounce of open space. Once we blacktop the last bit of green space, then what? Parks aren’t there just to have a high activity rate; sometimes people like to go to parks to relax and to have quiet and solitude. It doesn’t have to have 100 percent of activity 100 percent of the time.
Q: How important are local zoning codes and how necessary are they in preserving the character of the village?
A: Everyone understands that zoning codes are important. Having said that, they only work if they’re enforced universally, consistently and fairly. Once you start getting into a situation where the average Joe gets banged for wanting to do an extension to his deck and some large major landowner gets a free pass; that’s a recipe for disaster. Zoning codes are extraordinarily important to preserve the inherent character of any municipality, especially the Village of Mamaroneck, but they have to be enforced fairly and consistently.
Q: Although situations like the Witts lawsuit and the closing of Three Jalapeños involved additional issues, they both started because of flooding, to which the village is quite susceptible during severe weather events. What would you do to combat flooding?
A: I don’t really know and I’m not at all that convinced that there’s much the Village of Mamaroneck can do about flooding and I know my opponent keeps referring to the Army Corps of Engineers report that’s going to come down. We’ve had those reports before. Realistically, I don’t know what the Army Corps of Engineers would suggest that would really help. We get river flooding. If they triple the size of the rivers to let the water get to the sound, it’s meaningless because, at astronomical high tide, the water can’t get out. That’s what the 2007 flooding was all about.
Q: Save the Sound recently discovered some instances of significant pollution in the Long Island Sound and Mamaroneck River. What are your specific plans for handling water pollution and making sure infrastructure, including pipes within the village’s responsibility, are up to date and working properly?
A: I commend all of the citizen volunteers over the summer for what they do. Our waters have been dirty; it started about back in March with a three million gallon discharge into our waters. I’ve gotten 14 email blasts alerting me of traffic issues at Barry Avenue and the Post Road. I don’t remember getting an email blast about three million gallons of raw sewage in the waters where our children play. I don’t know why we need to stop with them. I’ve heard some babble about winter coming, so what? Keep testing; I want to find the problem. I would like funds allocated every single year to fix the pipes. We know we have 100-year-old pipes and we know they’re failing.
Q: Mayor Rosenblum is responsible for opening up trustee meetings to broader public comment, but that has caused some combative exchanges with members of the community. Are these exchanges healthy for the village and, if not, what can be done to alleviate them?
A: Another one of the reasons I decided to jump in, I’ve been frankly appalled by the way the meetings have been run. The fact is we have never had in the history of this village time clocks and buzzers. This isn’t the NBA. They’ve at least on one or two occasions had police escort people out. Why? Because the mayor said so. There has been a disrespect to the public and they have shut down public comment. What’s happening at Board of Trustees meetings with the mayor shutting down elected trustees; he has no right to do that.
Q: With the day worker lawsuit firmly behind the village, how far do you feel the village has come in healing those wounds?
A: I think the village has come very, very far. There’s a different attitude and the police department isn’t being sent out to harass people. The village has gotten past many lawsuits and it’s gotten spanked each time. When the village is wrong, it gets spanked.
Q: What sets you apart ideologically from your opponent and how would you govern the village differently?
A: Government is really for the people, not the other way around. You treat people with respect. What I would do differently is initiate conversations with people. You can’t do that in an atmosphere where you’re cutting people off and limiting them to two minutes and having a buzzer go off in their face. I think we really need to take control over how some of the land use concepts are being handled. For four years, we’ve had this issue of Sportime in Harbor Island Park hanging over our heads. We need leadership to be able to move things along in a rational and responsible way. That hasn’t happened for four years.
Q: You’ve spent 23 years as a land use board volunteer and you’re also an architect. But as mayor, you’re also responsible for collective bargaining agreements and attending things like the Carly Rose Sonenclar parade. Have you looked ahead to how you would take on a more diverse role within the village?
A: I think one of the advantages I have is, quite frankly, I live in the Village of Mamaroneck, but I also work in the Village of Mamaroneck. So I’m here every day. I think that gives me a little bit of a leg up on being able to be in touch and in tune. I can tell you that I have no problem marching in a parade. I know my opponent has marched in many parades; for 23 years I’ve worked to better the village.
Q: What will your three main priorities be if elected?
A: To work on taxes and the whole budgetary system and take a hard look at it. I think there are ways of increasing revenue in our industrial area; we don’t need to rezone it. On a consistence basis, when the mayor has been asked to comment about the possible rezoning at Hampshire, he says he can’t comment. You have an obligation to tell people where they stand on proposed law changes.
-Reporting by Ashley Helms