The Rye city council plans to decide June 13 on filling a vacancy left by the resignation of Councilwoman Suzanna Keith. A majority of the council wants to name a replacement to serve through the calendar year, even though a special election will be held in November to fill out the term through 2013. The seat is up again the following November for election to a four-year term.
Three people have come forward seeking the appointment, through formal statements to the council. Republican Julia Killian proposed her candidacy at the last council meeting. Democrat Charmian Neary spoke out against filling the vacancy before the election, noting the advantage an incumbent would have in the fall and reminding the council of its tradition of appointing members of the opposing party. (The Rye council majority is Republican.) She then offered her own candidacy as an alternative. Jason Mehler, who has no party affiliation, later submitted a letter offering to serve.
Following are statements from each of the three.
I have lived in Rye for over 20 years with my husband Gary and our five children. I graduated with a BS in Chemical Engineering from Notre Dame and then worked for Merrill Lynch Futures as a Credit Analyst while pursuing an MBA in Finance from New York University Stern School. After graduation, I worked at Citibank in the structured loan market and most recently trading distressed bank debt.
I retired in 1995 to raise our children and do volunteer work. My first civic involvement was on the Rye City Finance Commission. I was appointed by the mayor after I reached out to him with my desire to get involved. In the 16 years since then, I have been involved with a number of Rye institutions including the United Hospital TWIG organization, Rye Library, Historical Society, Arts Center and the Rye schools. More recently, I have been a Board member of Part of the Solution (POTS) a soup kitchen and social services agency in the Bronx and was Co-Chair of their recent $6M Capital Campaign and a Board member of School of the Holy Child. I am currently on the Board of New Yorkers for Growth (NYFG) a non partisan Political Action Committee dedicated to promoting growth in NY State through lower taxes and less government.
I was appointed by to the Westchester County Charter Revision Commission where I serve on the Budget and Finance Committee and the Local Government/County Government Relationship Committee. Because of my interest in promoting mandate relief, I have recently begun working with Best4NY, a Westchester based group focused on mandate relief. Most recently, I was appointed to the Rye City Finance Commission.
There are four things that I can bring to the Council. First and most important, I love Rye, its people and its institutions. I want to keep Rye the jewel that it is while still moving forward to meet the challenges ahead. Second, my long tenure in Rye and involvement in a variety of causes and issues has helped me to develop a strong network of relationships that I hope would be helpful to the City. I provide a bridge not only to the citizens of Rye but also to the school board, the County and the State. Third, my background in Finance and my interest in public policy have helped me to better understand the challenges facing our city. Lastly, I want to continue to educate the residents of Rye on mandate relief and why it is so important to Rye, our schools and municipalities across the State.
Although Rye is in good financial shape relative to these municipalities, we do have our challenges. I would like to be a member of the Council to help Rye face those and other challenges ahead.
I find time to make a significant and ongoing contribution to the Rye Caring Committee. It’s mostly behind the scenes – but it’s reality. I was first on the scene at Highland Hall after the flood and subsequent oil spill. I found the displaced tenants an attorney, ensured that their housing costs were not out of pocket (which was originally the case) and helped to organize their tenants’ association. The Caring Committee took care of over 60 families with no fanfare. I was a small part of that overall effort which I will say here was impressive. Those women are competent.
Since 2006 I have also been focused on the schools. I served for three years on the finance committee where Chairman Bob Zahm and I conducted a gross receipts tax study which informed both the school board, and later the council, on the regressive nature of such an action. I am part of the effort to get qualified members elected to the board and was responsible for turning out the vote for the school budget as the Chairman of Friends of the Rye City School District for 4 years.
I contribute to Our Lady of the Rosary Church, and help foreign born kids from Port Chester High School with scholarship and college applications.
Finally, I act as an advocate pro bono in tough special education cases where parents cannot afford an attorney.
My husband, son, incredibly elderly cat (21 next month) and I live in a 1510 square foot house on Midland Avenue – in the speed zone. My husband is a retired NYPD Detective First Grade, so we are a union family. My son struggles with autism, yet holds his own on baseball IQ and depending on the topic, could do well on Jeopardy. All these things and more enable me to bring a perspective to the council not currently represented.
I have no plans this summer beyond the All Star Game and Hall of Fame weekend. I can start tomorrow, and as I’m sure you’ve seen from my time at the lectern, I will contribute substantively from day 1. Whether the issue is informing the voters as to the scope of a bond and it’s value to the community, weighing the relative advantages of public works employees versus private carters, negotiating a uniformed services contract, or traffic mitigation and pedestrian safety, I have direct experience in my background which will benefit the council.
I want the race in the fall to be competitive and fair. This reminds me of Tom DiNapoli’s appointment. The tradition in Rye – which was mentioned when the suggestion was made to leave it open so close to the election – is if you do appoint someone – you chose from the opposite party. You don’t do the appointment vs waiting for an election – unless you do the opposite party thing too. Otherwise it’s just a backroom deal.
Education: SUNY Albany 1984 English and History
Experience: Worked for administrations of Governor Mario M. Cuomo, Mayor Edward I. Koch, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. At NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal, monitored ETPA rent law among other functions; NYC Department of Transportation, acting assistant commissioner – Convention Center Coordinating Committee; assistant to the acting Commissioner Samuel I. Schwartz; NYC Consumer Affairs, public information officer; NYC Department of General Services; New York State Assembly, legislative director to a senior Assemblyman from the Upper East Side. Launched the Nielsen Group with partner, Annette Nielsen, contracted with Steve Forbes to create first contested GOP Presidential primary in NY State history.
I will be a second set of hands, fresh set of eyes and be that committed seventh member of the Rye City Council.
I have already met with Mayor French and I have scheduled appointments to meet individually with all of the members of the Rye City Council within the next week. 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.
I volunteered for this appointment because I want to be part of the process to “Make Rye Better!”. As many current council members have stated – filling the position left by Suzanna Keith will not be an easy task for anyone. I am a good listener. I am a very quick learner. I love Rye and want it to be the best in every way. I am fully committed to doing everything possible and asked of me from all members of the council.
I pay attention to details and will listen to everyone’s opinion. I am committed to serving our community with everyone’s best interest. I will be a second set of hands, fresh set of eyes and be that committed seventh member of the Rye City Council.
I have met many residents over of the last week and they all have thanked me for volunteering to fill this position. As a parent, homeowner, resident and someone that works in this great city, I want to assist in any way possible to making Rye the best place to live, visit, work and raise a family.
There are many important issues currently before the council for the remainder of this appointed term. They include flooding issues, rising taxes, an infrastructure bond, budget planning, tree ordinance, garbage collections, safe roadways, bridges, new hotel, parking issues, local taxicab fares, public services, public landmarks, Purchase Street, Playland, Rye Town Park and many others. To make the transition as seamless as possible, I will assist where I can best be utilized.
I understand that this is an appointed position and not an elected position. My approach would be “non partisan” and I am looking forward to working with all of the members of the council. If appointed to the position on June 13th, my intention would be to run for the position in the November election.
My business experience includes management, budgeting and financial planning. I believe that my experience, coupled with my passion to keep Rye’s local government strong, will help me bring new ideas and new solutions to the Rye City Council.
Do more with less. Whether you’re a business, a government or a homeowner in charge of the family budget, today’s mandate is to continue to get results in spite of tighter economic conditions. Our local government is not any different. Expenses are going up and we can’t just keep taxing people to help revenues keep pace. My mission is to think differently. I have a proven professional record of developing new ideas.
Per Mayor French, Suzanna Keith “brought a lot of insight . . . passion and community rapport. In 30 months, she accomplished more than people do in a term”. I want to continue on the path she started and make the residents of this great City of Rye my number one priority!
On a personal note - My wife, Carin works locally as a school teacher in Rye. As the parents of two young children that both currently attend Milton School (Emily 9 & Rachel 7), a few of the primary reasons we were attracted to the City of Rye were the school system, community and proximity to the park and Long Island Sound. I am in the park every morning and early evening walking my dog, Ben (18 month old pekapoo).
Education: Bachelor of Science, Professional Accounting, SUNY at Plattsburgh
Experience: Associate Broker at Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty; worked as a corporate controller for more than 15 years in Manhattan; in Public Accounting for M.R. Weiser & Company, CPA’s, Rosenblatt, Slavet and Radezsky,CPA’s, Weber, Lipsky & Co, CPA’s, Kass & Jaffe, CPA’s, as an auditor and accountant. Additionally, worked privately in the employment industry, payroll industry and specialized in internal accounting and taxation and finance. In 2011, appointed to the Rye Town Park Advisory Committee.