As a fourth generation Westchester County resident, I have Westchester in my blood. It is how I define myself. I am passionate about this county, and my desire to see Westchester continue to be the best place to live, whether you are a child, working and raising a family, or retired.
What in your experience and background prepares you for this job?
There is nothing in my experience and background that hasn't prepare me! I have been a legislator at a time when the economy had tanked, yet I have been able to work with my colleagues from both parties, to progress infrastructure needs, while keeping taxes below the 2 percent tax cap. As a small business owner, and "owner" of a middle-class family, I'm sensitive to the cost associated with being in a place with the best schools, best beaches and parks, and lovely villages and towns. Lastly, as an elected official I have worked on flood mitigation, environmental initiatives, affordable housing, Playland, historic preservation, mass transit, and all with the spirit of cooperation to work with everyone for the good of the community.
What differentiates you from John Verni?
Experience which equates to a proven record of accomplishing goals on issues that directly impact us all in the 7th District.
What are the top three issues facing District 7 right now and, if elected, how would you work to resolve them?
The number one issue is the tax burden which has many residents struggling to understand how they can afford to stay in Westchester. I've knocked on more doors than I can count where the homeowner who no longer had children in the school system, said their short term plan was to put the house on the market and move where the taxes were "reasonable." Number two is flooding. We have all chosen to live in a sound shore community, and as such we have many rivers and brooks making their way through to Long Island Sound. Storms are coming more frequently and more severely due to climate change, and the damage to our communities caused by flooding is enormous, both in cost and emotional stress. I know this firsthand. I have said before, if you question why we need county government, look no further than flood mitigation as your answer. Lastly, we need to focus on our environment. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to eventually undue the damage caused by climate change cannot be delayed any longer. The good news is alternative energy will surely provide a way to reduce our governmental costs longterm. Cleaner water and air for future generations of Westchester County residents must be addressed today.
While campaigning over the last few months, what have you learned from constituents about the District 7 communities that you didn't already know?
I've learned that we all love our home communities, and each has an individual character that we can appreciate.
What is your position on the Sustainable Playland deal? Do you want SPI to take over management of Playland? If so, why? If not, then what should be the future for Playland?
The management agreement with Sustainable Playland and their partnership with Central Amusements should provide for a better Playland for Westchester County residents and visitors alike. Central Amusements has the expertise to run Playland well, and will invest the necessary dollars to improve the rides and experience . Just look what they did with Luna Park at Coney Island! What SPI brings is the expertise (Dan Biederman—revitalization of Bryant Park, NYC) to bring successful events and other partners to make Playland a destination 365 days a year. Better restaurants and food concessions, better picnic area, kayak launch, ballfields and fieldhouse, sound good to many people in our area. Yes, the devil is in the details, especially regarding the size of the fieldhouse, but I believe the concept of creating other year round uses is the right idea.
Sound Shore residents from different towns have different concerns. If elected, how do you feel you will balance the concerns of all your constituents?
Actually we have more in common than what separates us. I have gotten to know many fine individuals from Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Rye Neck, Harrison and New Rochelle. As I stated earlier if I focus on reducing the tax burden, flood mitigation, and environmental initiatives, that should make a significant impact on all our communities. If a constituent has a specific concern I will be committed to helping regardless of where they live in the district.
What are some of the accomplishments you have made in your political and/or professional life of which you are most proud?
We have a nicer downtown today then when I started on the Council, thanks to the efforts of many people—citizens, staff and fellow elected officials, to see through the start of a streetscape improvement plan. The sluice gate for the Bowman Ave dam has been an important step for flood mitigation. This year, I felt particularly gratified by the sale of 1037 Boston Post Rd.—I was relentless in my refusal to take what my colleagues perceived as a "good offer," and we garnered an additional $2.2 million. Professionally, I am proud to be a retailer still in business after 17 years, which is no small feat, but what I am proudest of all, are my children, Julia and Aidan, who amaze me every day with demonstrations of kindness, character, and intelligence.
There is often disagreement between Democrats and Republican legislators at the county level. How would you work to improve or handle partisan relations?
I've said this many times—good ideas can come from both sides of the aisle. We are all tired of the partisan bickering and name calling. I have succeeded being re-elected as a councilwoman because I am fair, and I have treated issues in a non-partisan way. I will bring that pragmatic, not ideological approach to county government.
Do you have political aspirations beyond being re-elected to a county legislature set?
Oh, God, no!
What political party do you belong to?
I'm an independent, but I look forward to becoming an independent Democrat in January.
Are you endorsed by any political party?
I'm endorsed by the Democratic Party.
District 7 is comprised of Mamaroneck, Rye, Larchmont and parts of New Rochelle and Harrison.
EDITOR'S NOTE: John Verni's questionnaire can be found here.