Political Affiliation: Democratic nominee
Party endorsements: Mamaroneck First
Family: Wife Jean Marie; children Morgan, 17, Jackson, 14
Occupation: Bond trader for Lloyds Bank
Community involvement: Lacrosse and soccer coach for 12 years, helped start Pumpkin Patch, Set-up stage for school plays
One thing the average voter doesn’t know about you: “I’m a guitar player and singer that refuses to do so in front of anyone, but family.”
Q: Why did you decide to run?
A: The direction of the village is very much at a crossroads. I moved here specifically for that combination of the diversity, but also that natural beauty. We really have the diversity and the look of a city in a small New England town and I think that’s really rare. The potential as a place to live, and for me, more importantly, to raise kids, made it pretty much the perfect place and I’m fearful that we’re going to lose some of that. That’s really the impetus to run.
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: There have been, over the course of about the past 15 years, there was a Harbor Island master plan that was done about 10 years ago. It had a pretty diverse group of residents that got together and said we have this beautiful Harbor Island, what can we do with it? And it was a good plan because it wasn’t one group versus another and like so many other things; it sat on a shelf and was never acted. What I think you do to preserve is exactly that; you follow the plans and you don’t change zoning for open spaces. We have not enough as it stands and to encroach on what is already there to me seems foolish. I think what people also miss is that there is a real economic value to that space as open space. Some people’s housing values are as high as they are because they have access to things like Harbor Island.
Q: If elected, what would you do to combat flooding?
A: Right from the start, I would say first and foremost is preserving open space because the more you encroach on that you’re going to exacerbate flooding. But some of it is a phenomena that when we do have flooding; we’re on low-lying coastal area. Bad sequences of events like Hurricane Sandy or some of the storms; we’re going to have some flooding. What you can do is try to mitigate some of the damage from it. Houses in flood zones should not have their electrics and their HVACs and all those things on the first floor, where they’re susceptible to the worst damage and the highest cost to do that. We can do a little bit more to make sure the infrastructure that is in place is working properly.
Q: Save the Sound recently discovered some instances of significant pollution in the 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: First off, yes, we seemed to have had two really unfortunate instances: one the rupture of the pipe at the Jefferson Avenue Bridge. I could argue that was somewhat unconscionable. The contractors were aware that it was there and to rupture that; not a very good thing. It’s the same at Mamaroneck Beach and Yacht Club and Otter Creek. My bigger concern is that, yes, we have to work to make sure we’re a little bit more efficient in areas that will be susceptible to that and I’m not sure we should have sewer lines under rivers. I think that’s probably not a great idea, but, more importantly, when we discover things like that there has to be immediate warning to the residents. One of the things that really concerned me about both of those leaks was that it’s possible that they were not brought to the attention of the residents as quickly as they could have been or should have been. I was taken aback at the League of Women Voters debate because Louis Santoro said he was unsure where people got the three million gallons figure.
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: I think that is just a simple matter of respect and you can’t encourage people and ask people to participate and harangue them when their views aren’t the same as yours. I think the only way you get to have an understanding of how people think and feel is hear the diverse points of view. Going door-to-door and knocking; the one thing that is so valuable if you learn things you might not otherwise have known by talking to people who are maybe not your regular circle of friends. Courtesy at the meeting is a very simple thing and the confrontations that have gone on there to me seem completely unnecessary. I think you have to have open meetings and discourse.
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 that the village is better. I think that there’s a little bit more trust again. From many of the day workers that they feel safe being in the Village of Mamaroneck, but I think that has taken a long time to heal. I would hope that it will continue to get better. The village is made up of a lot of different people and they are all part of the fabric of the village and they are all part of what draws people to it. You can’t chase somebody out because it’s convenient to do so. Part of that I think was spurred by the fact that it was getting in the way of someone’s development and they thought it would be harder to rent apartments if there were day laborers outside.
Q: How important are local zoning codes and how necessary are they preserving the character of the village?
A: I think local zoning codes are the most essential check and balance to pretty much everything that happens here. Generally, zoning codes are there for your own protection and it’s a legislative action. That doesn’t mean that, periodically, you don’t look at them and there are things that change. When you look at the light manufacturing zone in the village; light manufacturing has been declining for 30 years. It might be appropriate to look at that area and maybe change some of that. It’s not that it’s once written and never touched, but it’s generally there for a reason and, before it’s changed in any way, there has to be a tremendous amount of scrutiny as to the reason why. Generally, zoning is for our own protection and I think it should be followed to the letter of the law.
Q: What will your three main priorities be if elected?
A: I think we need to bring everybody in a little closer together and try to do what’s really best for the village and to really try to work on some of the quality of life issues to balance the fact that, yes, we want to have the vibrancy of the avenue, but to remember that people live on the avenue and it’s a residential area. I think you can find a fine line; I don’t think there’s anything wrong with outside dining, but it doesn’t have to go until midnight. Not that it does, but there a lot of things you can do to strike a balance. Definitely to make sure our village officials follow laws and regulations uniformly.
-Reporting by Ashley Helms