Political affiliation: Republican nominee, registered unaffiliated
Party endorsements: Independence and Conservative
Occupation: Manager of contracts and administration for Safe Flight Instrument Corporation
Years in Village: Lifetime
Community involvement: Former trustee, chairman of Tree Committee, soccer coach
Family: Brother James, extended family resides in the village
What’s one thing the average voter doesn’t know about you?: “My involvement in NASCAR.”
Q: Protecting open space and the village’s coastal heritage and character is a concern that many Mamaroneck residents consider to be of high importance. How will you preserve the village’s uniqueness and green space while promoting smart development?
A: I would note that when I was a trustee in 1980 to 1982 we laid the groundwork for the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. You have to have continued development in any municipality to maintain or increase your tax base to help keep the people that live here. The village’s greatest asset is its diversity in its residents. A big, open issue is Hampshire Country Club. Hampshire Country Club has made two proposals, neither one of them has been brought to the Board of Trustees. I think that open space is a necessity; I think it’s part of the character of the Village of Mamaroneck. Once you lose something, you never get it back again.
Q: How important are local zoning codes and how necessary are they in preserving the character of the village?
A: It’s extremely important. You always look to review suggestions. We’re in the process of going over and going to bid for the industrial area. I can tell you, on a weekly basis, we interview groups who are looking to develop in the village and that’s a prime area to do it. The diversity is a key to the village; I don’t want to live in a white bread area. I don’t want a Scarsdale or Rye. The purpose is to have both retail and residential.
Q: Although situations like the Witts lawsuit and the closing of Three Jalapenos 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: For many generations living here, I was just as frustrated as anyone else. We are now going through the third Army Corps of Engineers study. I’m very optimistic and I work on a group that works with the Army Corps. I think that, in December or mid-January, we will be getting proposals or suggestions from the Army Corps. You’re never going to cure 100 percent, but according to this plan, you’ll probably prevent almost every flood except for a perfect storm like in 2007.
Q: Save the Sound recently discovered some instances of significant pollution in the Long Island Sound and the Mamaroneck River. What are your specific plans for handling water pollution and making sure infrastructure including pipes within the villages responsibility are up to date and working properly?
A: The infrastructure in the United States, on average, is 90 to 100 years old. You’re talking wood sewers in some places. It’s not something we’re going to do; it’s something we’re already doing. We’re looking to slip line the sewer lines. Unfortunately, there were two accidents; you had the contractor bust the pipe near the Jefferson Avenue Bridge, so you had raw sewage going in.
Q: You are responsible for opening up trustee meetings to broader public comment, but that has caused some combative exchanges with members of the community, including criticism that you won’t answer resident questions. Are these exchanges healthy for the village and, if not, what can be done to alleviate them?
A: Discussion is always healthy. People aren’t going to agree all of the time; the only time I tell people that there’s no discussion going back and forth is the meeting procedures themselves. Public commentary is not a discussion to go back and forth. It’s the opportunity for people to come up and speak what’s on their mind that’s not on the agenda. If you have a discussion going back and forth, you’ll be there for 10 hours and you’ll never get out. As far as commentary is concerned, you have to be on a level playing field. If you do it one way with one person, you have to do it with everyone.
Q: With the day worker lawsuit firmly behind the village, how far do you feel the village had come in healing these wounds?
A: I think it has gone 180 percent to the opposite. When I got in, I was dealing with the attorney appointed by the court. We had discussions; it’s not what the village did, it’s how they did it. They went after only the day laborers and the contractors, so they didn’t create a level playing field. The same way your dollar bill is based on perception because you don’t have enough gold to back up the dollar bill, perception is 90 percent of the Village of Mamaroneck. And I believe with the Hispanic Resource Center, which I work very closely with, we’ve opened it up. Everyone feels very comfortable and the feedback I’ve got is that it’s in the past and it doesn’t exist. As long as I’m mayor, it’ll never happen again.
Q: What sets you apart ideologically from your opponent and how would you govern the village differently?
A: The first reason I have is that I have no hooks in the fire in the village. I don’t work in the Village of Mamaroneck; I have no ties other than the one dedication to do what’s right for all the residents in the Village of Mamaroneck. I think my opponent has demonstrated over and over again that he has his own agenda. It’s my opinion that he makes decisions that aren’t on a level playing field. There are several instances where there are conflicts of interest where he should be recusing himself and he doesn’t. The proof in the pudding is, don’t take my word for it; go to the Ethics Board. I have no problem continuing what I’m doing. I believe in open government; people can come.
Q: There’s been some criticism that you might be slightly bigger than the position as outlined. How would you answer that and how do you see your role as mayor?
A: The role of mayor is specifically outlined by the rules and regulations from New York State Village Law and rules and regulations set up by the mayor and Board of Trustees. What you’re talking about is a personality. My personality might be considered big because I go out and anyone can find me any time. I don’t know if Clark Neuringer could lie in a coffin in the Spooktacular, but that’s my method. My method is to get involved with people. I love the contact and back and forth; if that’s big than that’s fine.
Q: What will your three main priorities be if re-elected?
A: Continuing line-by-line review of the budget to control the expenses in the village. The 2 percent tax cap is now 1.66 percent. We have to look for other revenue coming in and then, in particular, look for areas that are not real estate tax. We came up with this parking study and this ad hoc committee only because the previous board and some members of this board were trying to kill it and say you don’t need parking. If you get substantial revenue from parking, that helps maintain or maybe lower your tax penalties to people and keep the residents here. Another thing is facilitating volunteer groups in the Village of Mamaroneck to create functions and events that bring people here. And the flooding; that’s one of our main goals.
-Reporting by Ashley Helms