With three in the race for mayor and six competing to fill three city council seats, this year’s election is a big one for Rye. No matter what the outcome, at least two new faces will be seated at the city council dais and Rye will have a new mayor. Outgoing Mayor Douglas French is not running for re-election.
Patch asked all of the candidates to answer a series of questions about their experience, their platforms and proposals for the City of Rye. This is the fourth of the city council candidate Q&As. Find others here.
The candidates running for city council are: Jason Mehler, Julie Killian, Terry McCartney, Meg Cameron, Shari Punyon and Kirstin Bucci
The candidates running for mayor are Peter Jovanovich, Nancy Silberkleit and Joseph Sack.
The election is on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Cameron, 59, is running on the Democratic City Committee's slate along with Shari Punyon. The Dems did not nominate a candidate for mayor.
Cameron is 27-year resident of Rye who lives in the Milton Point neighborhood. This is the candidate’s first time running for city council and sees herself as a volunteer, not a politician, which she believes can help reduce political infighting. Cameron is a wife and mother of two adult children, both of whom attended Rye public schools, and a grandmother to her six-month old granddaughter. Read more on her background here. here.
Why are you running for Rye City Council?
I have lived in Rye for 27 years. I am running because in all this time I’ve never seen such mismanagement, incivility and poor financial oversight in City government. I’m not happy about it and I would like to make things better.
What do you feel are the top three issues facing the city of Rye right now?
1. The City must maintain those services that are already excellent, improve the services that need improving, initiate new projects where needed, and advocate for the City of Rye when it is affected by actions of Westchester County and the Town of Rye.
2. The City must do everything it can to control property taxes.
3. In order to accomplish the first two items, we need a stronger City Council – a Council whose members have more respect for each other and all residents, and who focus on the issues of the City rather than political in-fighting.
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?
I am in favor of any financially viable plan that keeps and improves the beach, pool, ice rink and at least some of the rides, and does not burden the surrounding neighborhood with problems such as heavy traffic, street parking issues and year-round noise. If elected to the City Council, I will forcefully oppose any plan that does not meet all of those criteria. Which group will ultimately provide such a plan is not yet clear.
You can’t make everyone happy all the time - How do you plan to balance the needs of different neighborhoods, community groups, businesses, city employees and special interest groups?
I believe every City Council person should get out regularly into Rye’s various neighborhoods, and should attend meetings or events of Rye organizations, in order to become familiar with the full range of resident’s concerns. Beyond that, anyone who has a pat answer to this question is thinking too simplistically. Each issue must be analyzed on its own merits with a combination of empathy and practicality.
What should the future of Rye Golf Club look like in terms of management and its relationship with the city?
I don’t yet know exactly how the Golf Club should regroup, but I believe any decisions should be guided by the following principles:
1. At this point, the City should be open to a variety of management possibilities in order to find a solution that is attractive to the Golf Club members, financially viable and equipped with safeguards against incompetence and fraud.
2. Relations between the Golf Club Commission and the City Council need to improve. I believe the City must make its oversight more effective rather than more heavy-handed.
Name two issues with which you think the current city
council could have done a better job over the last four years.
1. Fiscal oversight. The theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Rye Golf Club is a prime example.
2. Flooding. The City has failed to initiate any new flooding projects.
How would you have managed those situations differently?
1. If elected, I will read every budget, audit and financial document that comes my way as if the well-being of the City depended on it – which of course it does. I believe close scrutiny is necessary to protect the taxpayers from waste and fraud.
2. I will make flood amelioration a priority and make sure that the City does not keep this issue on the back burner.
Tell us one thing that you learned about Rye, or the people of Rye, on the campaign trail that surprised you.
I was impressed by how many residents follow Rye City government closely, and understand the issues in depth.
What in your experience and background prepares you for
First, I have a science background. By training as well as temperament I am prepared to analyze issues logically and make decisions backed by fact. Second, my volunteer work in the community has ranged from helping children write stories at Milton School, to delivering Meals-on-Wheels, to serving as an executive member of the Board of Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, a large, well-run non-profit organization serving four counties. In this role I’ve learned to deal with multi-million dollar budgets and a maze of federal and state regulations. I believe my scientific training and my logical, analytical approach to problem solving, as well as my volunteer experiences, have prepared me to help govern the City.
What differentiates you from the other candidates?
As I mentioned above, my science background equips me for rational analysis and decision-making. Furthermore, I am not connected to the local political machine that has chosen the present City Council and the candidates on the other ticket. This will allow me to act independently instead of with, or in opposition to, a political faction.
Anything else you want to add?
I love Rye. I appreciate its natural beauty, historic charm, civic organizations, vibrant downtown, and of course its people. I feel grateful to live here, and I hope to have the opportunity to serve on the City Council as a way of giving back to the community.