Rye Patch sent each of the 3 potential appointees– Julia Killian, Jason Mehler and Charmian Neary– to the six month temporary term on Rye City Council the following questions:
- Why are you interested in serving on the council? How did you decide to volunteer for the remainder of Suzanna Keith's term?
- How will you be effective under the circumstances: a months-long term in the midst of election season?
- What are the 5 key issues currently facing the Council and what is your position on each of them?
- Would you be willing to vote against your party? On what issue(s)?
- If you are running in the November election, how will you manage the responsibilities of serving on the Council with running your campaign?
- Describe your political and civic activities and affiliations over the past 18 months. What has your role been in these activities?
"I am so sorry but I won't be able to get them done. I am out helping look for Pierce [Crowley] and feel that is more important right now. "
My goal is to meet individually with all of the members of the Rye City Council within the next two weeks. I want the transition to be seamless and I plan to step into my role immediately from day one and assist wherever I can be most be utilized. The residents of Rye deserve no less than the very best. I am willing to make a full commitment.
My approach would be "non partisan" and I am looking forward to working with all of the members of the council. My objectives would be to identify and solve problems for the people of Rye.
Why are you interested in serving on the council? How did you decide to volunteer for the remainder of Suzanna Keith's term?
When elections are not perceived to be fair and impartial, citizens lose trust in their government. With a loss of trust comes a loss of interest. When people lose interest and decline to participate, aside from the result of power being concentrated among fewer people, our government misses out on the contribution of the best minds, and often the most decent and open minded people.
I volunteered because it was too important to me that our elections in Rye stay fair. I was dismayed by the thought of the Rye Council appointing a Republican donor to the seat with the reason being that no one else was interested. I know good men and women who did express interest, but who understandably objected to the process. Ultimately they felt as though they'd just as soon avoid a selection process which appeared pre-determined. If they chose to run at all, they'd rather take their chances with the voters of Rye in the fall where their odds were better than 5-1. If nothing else, it's less demeaning. I know this kind of thing happens all the time, all over America, but I live in Rye and I want Rye to be better, and to stay better.
I advocated, as did Councilwoman Parker and former school board member Bob Zahm, for the seat to be left open with the beginning of the election season only weeks away. We believed that the 6 men and women presently on the council, with the shortened summer schedule and with the assistance of professional staff and citizen committee members, could handle the city's business with no discernible drop off in quality. The council, with the exception of Councilwoman Parker, disagreed. They thought they were in need of an extra set of hands, or fresh eyes, from a thoroughly committed seventh member. They stated they were looking for someone with strong experience, which I possess. In an effort to effect a compromise, to meet the majority's request for immediate assistance, yet ensure that the election in November is held on a level playing field, I volunteered to serve, starting immediately. I further offered not to run for the seat in November so there would be no unfair advantage in the race generated by the appointment.
How will you be effective under the circumstances: a months-long term in the midst of election season?
On the day I take office I can look at the study regarding privatizing garbage. I listened to the presentation at the last council meeting but I'm curious to hear the other side of the story. Chris Falcone gave some solid background in the Sound Shore Review. I will speak to those individuals myself and draw upon my contacts in NYC Sanitation, both management and labor, for their perspective. That is only one example of how I can be effective from the start despite the compressed time frame. Again, by not participating in the election, I can be focused in a way a candidate cannot.
What are the 5 key issues currently facing the Council and what is your position on each of them?
Flooding, Infrastructure, Taxes, maintaining services Rye has come to expect, and public integrity. By including them here as key I've indicated my position to a degree. It is facile to say I'm against flooding and taxes and for maintaining our infrastructure and services, while reinforcing conflict of interest and disclosure laws. Who would take the opposite position? That is why as a political consultant I have always maintained that platforms and issues statements are over rated. Any candidate can cart around a notebook of her assigned "positions", her stump speech if you will, from which she does not waiver. I watched a debate just last summer where this very thing occurred, almost comically. A particular candidate, whenever a question was asked (often from staff and party types planted in the audience), simply opened her notebook to a tabbed page and began to read from the "text." How does that give the voters any idea of the kind of judgement, intelligence, commitment and creativity a candidate has? The answer is "it doesn't."
Would you be willing to vote against your party? On what issue(s)?
Yes, and I have publicly. I am a registered Democrat, but I am not a member of the Democratic Committee. I will not excuse a Democrat for any behavior for which I would condemn a Republican, and that conviction puts me on the outs with the party at times. You ask on what issues - here are two. I supported Rob Astorino as opposed to Andy Spano for County Executive. Spano had been in office too long and county government had grown fat and unresponsive.
Although Rob has taken stances as County Executive which put him at odds with Rye City government, I do not regret supporting him, and on some issues, such as not taxing the Tiki Bar, I think Rob is right.
A second vote against my party - I supported Harry Wilson over Tom DiNapoli for State Comptroller. More important to my decision than the fact that Harry is brilliant, at times startlingly so, was the manner in which the appointed comptroller, Tom DiNapoli, was selected in 2007. He prevailed in a rigged partisan vote in the Assembly, one in which the other vastly more qualified candidates were never seriously considered. This blatant power play made the governor at the time, Eliot Spitzer, furious, and I didn't much like it either. Four years later when Harry Wilson asked me for my help, I didn't have to think long and hard about it. The principle of fair elections is too important for me. Fortunately for me, although I caught hell from close friends of mine in the state party, the NY Times and virtually every editorial page in the state agreed with me - so I got a pass on Harry. On Rob Astorino, not so much, but I'd vote the same way again. For an executive slot, you can't be bound by ideology.
If you are running in the November election, how will you manage the responsibilities of serving on the Council with running your campaign?
I don't expect to run in November. I think there is too much of a conflict as a new member with no record on which to run with the election so close. I also don't think it's fair for an individual for whom no one has voted to be granted the power of incumbency by virtue of their party affiliation. See Tom DiNapoli above.
Describe your political and civic activities and affiliations over the past 18 months. What has your role been in these activities?
I was active to a greater or lesser degree in three of the contested county board elections last fall. I am most proud of my role in electing Virginia Perez, a young woman drawn to public service by the violent death of her younger brother. Virginia defeated a 10 year incumbent in a democratic primary in Southwest Yonkers without the support of the party or any minor party lines. We refused to compromise Virginia's independence for the Working Families Party or the Independence Party lines. This was the biggest upset in Westchester.
I also played a role in Judy Myers re-election in the 7th legislative district which includes Rye. Finally, I was helpful to Sheila Marcotte in Eastchester and Tuckahoe. Sheila is a Republican but she has a citizen legislator approach to government that I admire. She is also smart and hard working and most important, understands she is a public servant not a queen.
As for civic activities, I continue to work for the caring committee. Sometimes Laura Slack calls me, sometimes I call her, but we work with Susan Gould and Sandy Samberg and about a dozen other women to get immediate, discreet and practical assistance to Rye families facing trauma of any kind.
My role with the caring committee is informal and based on the circumstance that I frequently know the family needing assistance. The real heavy lifting is done by the women I've mentioned as well as others whose names I have temporarily forgotten because it is late as I'm writing this. I am blown away by these women in that they are so ...organized. And they involve their children, which is a better education than they can gain at even Rye's top ranked schools (sorry Laura). I also work with students at Port Chester High School on their college and scholarship applications and advise parents who cannot afford an attorney as to their rights under the Federal laws related to special education. Finally I resigned last year from Friends of the Rye City School district after four years as Chairman, but I continue to advise the current co-chairs when they request my help. They don't need my advice very often however. They are doing a fine job.