Village trustee candidates: Louis Santoro

SantoroAge: 56
Status: Incumbent
Political affiliation: Republican nominee
Party endorsements: Conservative and Independence
Family: Wife, Nancy, children Amanda, 30, Nicholas, 23
Occupation: Retired from the Westchester Joint Water Works after 21 years
Community involvement: Member of Town of Mamaroneck Fire Department, worked at Westchester Joint Water Works; union president for 15 years, coached little league soccer and baseball
One thing average voter doesn’t know about you:“Doing work with the [Multiple Sclerosis] Society.”

Q: Protecting open space and the village’s coastal heritage and character is a concern 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 believe my voting record speaks for itself. We’ve upheld all the codes and the laws that were presented to us. I will continue to do that. I’ve lived in Mamaroneck my whole life and I’ve seen changes in there and I’d like to keep the character of the village the way it is today.

Q: What have you done to combat flooding in the village since you took office?

A: The first year, we put $90,000 for silt removal. We started at the Barry Avenue extension and did silt removal. We did banking of the silt, we did Northrup Avenue and some dredging and silt removal there and downstream, by Columbus Park, we did some silt removal. We made it a priority every year to put money into the budget to do this. This past year before we did the budget, we appropriated $115,000 for capital expenses to purchase our own machine, which some members of the board are against because they said we don’t have a place to store it. We do have a place to store it, but one of the residents who have many businesses located in the flood zone has offered a warehouse to us if we need a place to store it. It’s no cost to the village and we can store it. In the long run, we feel that, if there was a problem, we can just get into the river and dredge it.

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: At the last board meeting, we approved the second phase of the contract for slip lining of the pipes; that was approved a year and a half ago as a three-phase project and we’re up to phase two now. It identified all of the areas that need to be done. I think they’re going to start in a week or two, go to December when it gets cold and then pick it back up. Save the Sound is going to be coming in March or April and they’re going to continue doing their sampling. They work well with the village; as soon as they found a problem that day, contrary to what everyone is saying, and we have emails to back everything up. When the village was notified they were out there; immediately addressing the problem, got a hold of Beach and Yacht Club and told them they had a problem. The code enforcer went out there, they worked with them, they worked with the Building Department and it was fixed within 48 hours.

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: When Norman [Rosenblum] and I first decided to run we attended many, many meetings. We’d go to speak and the mayor at the time would say, “this is a meeting for village business and village business only and you’re not allowed to speak.” So, the first thing we thought is that we have to get the public involved. When we were going out and we were campaigning this is what we were hearing. We enacted where, if something comes up for a vote we say, “does anyone in the public have something say?” That was never done before. Now, we have an open comment; anyone who has a comment can address the board. Sometimes it gets a little contentious and the mayor will have to limit how much somebody talks, but that’s in the meeting procedures. A lot of good has come of it, but there are certain people that have certain agendas.

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’ve been involved after that. I saw what was going on and I think that Norman [Rosenblum] has done a great job reaching out to the Hispanic community and the Hispanic Resource Center. My personal feelings are that everything is going very well now with them and I think that everyone has put it behind them and moved on. We’re getting no complaints and they’re in a good location and they’re involved in the community. One thing about the people in Mamaroneck is they put things behind them and move on; there’s a lot to tackle in the village.

Q: How important are local zoning codes and how necessary are they in preserving the character of the village?

A: Very important. The people that we have that volunteer on the Zoning Board, our Planning Board, the HCZM [Harbor Coastal Zone Management commission] and bringing in Bob Galvin on our planning is giving insight in these committees. I rely on his expertise and I’m not an expert on it, but I believe Bob will come to us and say that, from his opinion and his past experience, this will have to be done. You can see with our local zoning changes coming up with the parking and garage spaces and floor plans. You listen to him talk and it makes sense and we will continue to do what we’re doing. We have a four-step plan where there are things that are priorities that have to get done immediately and there are things that are on the back burner. Our goal is to keep moving forward with that and listening to these experts. There are very active boards and everything is referred to them. We take their opinions on the stuff that has to be done. We might not agree with them and they might not agree with us, but we see to it that the process goes in the right direction.

Q: What will your three main priorities be if re-elected?

A: Maintain the character of the village, keeping the meetings open and being fair and honest to everybody and giving a thorough thought with everything I do and doing what I feel is right for the village. My mom and dad still live here; they’re in the village and they grew up here and still live here. I think the village is in a good position with the avenue, stuff that’s going on, with the fire department, the police department, the ambulance. We have a lot of volunteers who are stepping up to do different things.

-Reporting by Ashley Helms