Troy and Diviny will be on the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines. Salmon and Uhl will be on the Democratic and Oranetown First lines.
Patch sent the same set of questions to all four candidates. Their answers are listed in alphabetical order by last name after each question. If a candidate's name is not listed after a question, they did not answer that one.
Patch: Why did you decide to run for election?
When I decided to run for Town Board, it was due to the ever increasing tax burden, the development of the RPC property and concern over the composition of the local zoning and planning Boards and the enforcement of the rules and regulations of the Town, Planning and Zoning Boards.
After years of volunteering I felt it was time to run for elected office where I would have a part in policy making. In addition I wish to be the one solving the problems instead of complaining about them. I still believe in public service and hope to be a role model for future office holders.
I have served as a Town Councilman for Orangetown for the past 14 years and I believe that with my background and energy that I make a difference in helping make policies and decisions that affect the day to day operations and also the future direction that the Town is going in.
As an active community member, a school board member, and a former teacher, I have the experience and background to make some positive changes in Orangetown. On my resume I have been a South Orangetown School Board member for eight years. I am a former PTA President, and executive member of the Nyack YMCA, Palisades/Sparkill Baseball League, Children Shakespeare Theatre, and a former Chairwoman of the Town’s Youth and Recreation Committee. I am now looking forward to taking my experience, knowledge, and passion and work for the community as a Town Council member.
Patch: What personal or professional experiences qualify you to serve as a town board member?
I have served on the Town Board for the last four years. I am also an attorney with an office located within the Hamlet of Pearl River. My practice encompasses real estate law, estate planning, corporate formation, contract law and litigation. My time on the Board, as well as my experience as an attorney, have and will continue to serve me well in contract negotiations with the PBA and CSEA and the State regarding the RPC property, zone change requests and amendments, analyzing municipal agreements between Orangetown and the abutting Towns and many other issues facing the Town.
As a business owner, I can look at planning and goals in the areas of finance, labor relations, sales and procurement to name a few. I acquired many of these skills by rising through ranks. I am a proud volunteer for Jawonio, South Orangetown Ambulance Corps and Challenger Little League amongst others. I am honored to have been appointed by the County Executive, Scott Vanderhoef, to be a member of the Rockland County Commission on Human Rights. I look forward to becoming an elected official this year, and ran for Orangetown Town Council in 2009.
Personally I have been very active in the Orangetown community over the past 30 years that I have lived here – Pearl River Little League in various capacities for 25 years, St Margaret’s Parish as a CYO coach and bingo volunteer for many years, Division 3 AOH for 30+ years in various positions including fund raising, Venture Board of Directors for 15 years, IAABO Basketball Referee (scholastic and CYO – 23 years) and other volunteer activities like Relay for Life, Special Olympics. Through these activities I meet and know a lot of people who feel comfortable with me in expressing their opinions and suggestions regarding the Town government.
Also with my professional background (nine years teaching, 35 years in IT with AT&T, IBM and now Rockland County) provides a wealth of experience in dealing with a variety of issues relevant to decision making with Town Government – budgets, personnel, infrastructure, future development, etc. My educational background also enhances these skills – BS in Math, MBA in Management Information Systems, Masters Certificates in Finance and also Project Management.
Patch: What are the top three issues facing Orangetown residents?
Taxes and the 2% tax cap, RPC development and conservative planning and zoning practices in the Town.
1. RPC Development 2. Affordability 3. Economic Development
1. Maintaining the quality of life in Orangetown that people expect while containing escalating government/school costs.
2. The future development of RPC. It is critical that the Town control its own destiny by insuring large parcels like Rockland Children’s Hospital and the existing 348 acres that the Town owns are NOT used for high density housing or other undesirable developments that could change the nature of Orangetown forever. We are presently partnering with the State using a lobbyist to jointly offer for development RPC with the constraints imposed by what the Town wants and what our zoning laws are (which will be enforced).
3. Bring more clean ratables to Orangetown like Bloomberg Data Center, Stop & Shop and Marriott.
On the top of the list is always taxes. As a Town Council member, it will be my job to make sure that taxes are contained and used so that the services and quality of life residences expect in Orangetown are maintained. The second priority is to stimulate economic growth. This is not just bringing in large businesses to fill our corporate parks, but to also aid the small business owner. Finally, to create a long term plan that helps to develop the Rockland Psychiatric Center. This property will not only benefit the quality of life in Orangetown, but help to bring in revenue to control taxes and help to pay down our debt.
What are your plans in addressing these issues?
With taxes and the tax cap, the goal has to be to stay under the cap while preserving the essential services of the Town. To do this, I with other members of the Board, have forced department heads to justify their budgets, it cannot be just a 5% increase every year. You also have to look at the special districts and to that end, last year the Town Board required the South Orangetown Library Districts to spend down their fund balances by 10 percent. Development has to be promoted and rateables brought it, as we did with Bloomberg Data Center and Stop & Shop.
As to the RPC development, I took the lead in hiring Wilson Elser to act as our lobbyist/counsel up in Albany. For too long, Orangetown did not have the support of New York State in the development of this property. Wilson Elser has contacts at every level of state government and with their help we have partnered with New York State, the Office of Mental Health and ESD to develop our property along with the RPC Children’s property and Staff Court. The vision for this property is as follows: clean commercial rateables; no high density housing; the relocation of Town Hall to the RPC Campus; senior and volunteer housing on the property; a Town park on the waterfront; an indoor sports facility; and most importantly, control of the RPC Children’s property by controlling its zoning and development.
Finally with regard to conservative planning and zoning practices, it starts with appointing individuals to the land use Boards who appreciate what the Town of Orangetown stands for, which is preserving the unique character of the Hamlets and Villages. Zoning codes, rules and regulations should be enforced and zone changes/zone amendments be given strict scrutiny, always mindful of the consequences of any such changes.
RPC – When looking at RPC it looks exactly as it did four years ago. We need to identify businesses and developers who have money, creativity and vision. We are 20 miles from NYC, where there has to someone who has an idea of what to do with this property. The first rule of real estate is to always have a backup deal. One of my opponents has been content to sit idly by for a decade banking on one proposal that eventually fell apart and had no plan to put in place when it did.
Affordability – Keep tax increases to a bare minimum, working with other Town Board members regardless of party to focus on essential services and come up with collaborative solutions that are in the best interest of all the people.
Economic development – It is essential that we find businesses that want to come here, but we must continue to work to remove the obstacles and bureaucracy that slow the process and force us to lose companies to other areas. I will review all levels of regulation and all level board decisions.
Stay active in the RPC developments in participating in meetings/ negotiations with the State, our attorneys and lobbyists. Monitoring and working with owners/developers regarding the future of large parcels besides RPC – Pfizer, Masonic Camp Grounds, and Kaufman Camp Grounds.
As far as taxes are concerned, the first plan I hope to achieve is to build the budget around key priorities that the community and the Supervisor feel are paramount to sustaining the quality of life here in Orangetown. The top priority should always be to budget based on the health, safety, and welfare of the residents in Orangetown. I plan to achieve this and stay within the two percent tax cap.
To help stimulate economic growth, I hope to be able to evaluate the commercial space we have available throughout Orangetown and plan the type of businesses Orangetown needs. Then I hope to actively seek out businesses that match our criteria and encourage them to consider Orangetown as a home base. More importantly, we need to support our small business owners. In each town, village, and hamlet, small businesses make up the fabric of our community. As a Town Council member, we need to analyze the process in our Town departments that help small business grow. We need to encourage people in Town and our surrounding Towns to shop local.
To develop the Rockland Psychiatric Center, I hope to bring this parcel of property to the forefront of the Town’s agenda. We have owned this property for well over 10 years. Every moment this property stays dormant, the tax payer loses out. We need to figure out why plans have been made and then were defeated. We need to continue the work of the Empire State Group and begin to develop this property so it serves the needs of our residents.
How do you differentiate yourself from your opponents’ platforms?
My platform is to develop RPC and RPC Children’s property as indicated above; keep taxes below the state mandated tax cap; effectively deal with the prescription drug problem in Orangetown; promote economic development in the Town, redevelop the Pfizer campus; and encourage conservative planning and development.
Besides agreeing with everything that I or Denis Troy have done and/or stand for, my Democratic opponents have indicated that we should look to Letchworth Village for advice on the development of the RPC property and that there are developers in Westchester waiting to pounce on this property and build immediately. I disagree with their view entirely. Orangetown is Orangetown and we need to adhere to our conservative land use practices. We do not and should not look to other towns in Rockland for advice on development. More importantly, there is a $20 million asbestos removal job at this property. The developers who are allegedly eager to pounce on this property will cherry pick the best parcels, leaving the Town with the obligation of removing these buildings. Other communities in Rockland have a 50 to 100 year plan of development. Orangetown must have a long term plan also, preserving this great Town for the future.
I have been involved in this community for 35 years and am listening to what my friends and neighbors want from their elected officials. They are tired of the talk, tired of our elected officials being aloof and unapproachable. My interests are strictly to work together for a better quality of life, not to increase my own self-interest or economic status. I am confident that people will look to me for help, and that is what I am hired to do!
My opponents have basically agreed with our agenda. The difference is that I have a track record of serving and delivering on what I have said that I would accomplish – i.e. stopping the Work Force Housing resolution four years ago and also being heavily involved in the disposition of the African Inland Mission.
As a school board member, a former teacher, and a mother of three, one of my strongest attributes is I know how to listen and solve problems. I plan to work with all my Town Council members to create a cohesive, working Town Council to get the most important work of the Town done. If you have had the opportunity to sit in the audience of any Town Board meeting, you will notice that the atmosphere is not cooperative. This creates division and then no important work gets completed. I hope to begin to affect positive change.
Also, it’s important to bring knowledge in from various different organizations to stimulate creative ideas. Each of my community experience has given me a different working knowledge of how to work through problems all municipalities face. I hope to draw from this experience to move the good work of the board forward.
Finally, I believe that the Town Council should set examples of practice and policy. One of my first actions will be to examine the compensation given to the Town Council. I plan to reject the full time health care benefits afforded to the Town Council for the part-time work the Council performs. It’s important to set an example as we move forward in planning the budget for the coming year.
If elected, what would you like to achieve over the course of your term?
Everything that I stated in my platform above
Get RPC moving, find a solution to our budget issues and engage our residents in making this great town even better.
My number one objective in this next term would be get the development at RPC resolved and make sure that it is something that enhances Orangetown without having a negative effect on the infrastructure or quality of life that our residents expect. This is very important to me as my three married children and six grandchildren live in Orangetown and I plan on staying for the duration.
If I could wave a magic wand and predict the future, I would hope to have a fully established Rockland Psychiatric Center property that affords the residents not only full access to recreation facilities but gives us clean tax revenue (one that does not impact the community negatively).
I plan to make the Town Board more visible and accessible to the community. During my campaign, I have knocked on doors and greeted people at local businesses. This will not stop once elected. It’s important that there be a Town presence at every event and village meeting. I hope to share this responsibility with the Supervisor and my other Town Council members.
I plan to begin budget development on day one. After I have acclimated myself with the different departments in Town, I hope to build a trusting and cooperative partnership and begin to develop the budget around the guiding principles set by the Council and Supervisor.
Patch: Incumbents: Do you have other employment or own a business in addition to your elected post? Challengers: What is your current employment and will that change if elected?
I will continue to work in Town as an attorney if re-elected
I presently work for Mountain States Rosen LLC, a national veal and lamb company in the Bronx, New York and being elected will have no effect on my position there.
I have been an Assistant Director of Management Information Systems – Application Development for Rockland County for the past seven years and worked with AT&T and IBM prior to that. It is a challenge to balance the demands of my regular job and that of the Town Board but I have been able to accomplish this the past 18 years that I have been representing the residents of Orangetown.