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Think About What Your Vote Means

yourvoteLetter from Evelyn Stock: I am writing to encourage the citizens of Scarsdale to vote for the candidates of the Scarsdale Citizens' Non-Partisan Party on March 21. My opinion is based on my experience serving for 25 years on the Westchester Fair Campaign Practices Committee and on 47 years of residency during which I have been an active community volunteer.

For those unfamiliar, the Westchester Fair Campaign Practices Committee was established in 1990 to respond to charges of unfair practices made by candidates against their opponents. The Committee is active in both the fall and spring for any election held in Westchester, except for US president and US Senator. What I have witnessed in neighboring communities (including communities similar to Scarsdale): false information, personal attacks, self-aggrandizement, charges and counter charges, anger and mistrust, continues from election to election and tears apart the fabric of the community has made me grateful for our non-partisan system which has provided overall good honest government.

Of course, not every Scarsdale trustee or mayor has been excellent. Mistakes have been made (including the reassessment of 2016). But mistakes can be corrected. That our non-partisan system continually enlists new people—people who generally have made significant community contributions-- also serves us well. (Trustees serve no more than two two-year terms; mayors only one two-year term.)

During my 47 years in Scarsdale, I have served on the Citizens' Non-Partisan Party caucus, the Citizens Nominating Committee, at least three times, the last just a few years ago. (I have also served on the School Board Nominating Committee.) The system has undergone many changes. For years, nominees did not appear before the Committee. They often did not even know they were being considered. The fact that one person selected declined the nomination led to having nominees approve their bios and agree to run if selected. Nominees are selected on the basis of their performance in various Village activities which includes their ability to relate to people. This is true for the Citizens' Non-Partisan candidates this year.

This is not to say, however, that the system is perfect. Fewer people are willing to run for the Nominating Committee. Reasons they give—no time, reluctance to run against friends and neighbors, unwillingness to lose. (The first time I ran, the district did not conform as it does now to the elementary school districts. My small section of Heathcote (yes, actually) met with those who lived in Quaker Ridge. I received four votes. Amazingly. I survived....and did better when I was redistricted to Heathcote.)

This last time on the CNC, very few people were willing to run for Trustee. Most said "another time, another year." For the system to work, this too must change, and we need everyone to be part of that change. In the past, several citizens who failed in their bid to run against the system continued their civic involvement and went on to be candidates of the CNC and served Scarsdale well. Everyone is welcome.

But the repairs to the non-partisan system come after March 21. First we must save it.

Evelyn Stock is a 47-year resident of Scarsdale and a former winner of the Scarsdale Bowl.

Comments   

+1 #5 bridge to nowhere 2017-03-21 09:58
I do not think we need to dramatize this as the last chance to save the non-partisan system. The system works. True, every year we need to have enough candidates to run for the CNC. Having an alternative keeps the CNC deliberations "honest".

By the way, most if not all candidates I will vote for have been selected by the CNC.

I also have to say that the political debate in the village as well as nationally is increasingly dominated by those who are intolerant to views of others. I for one feel uncomfortable voicing my opinions because I will get labeled even before I finish my first sentence. I just don't have time to invest into "getting through" to those who are loud and who do not want to hear. Hopefully over time they will get to understand that there is more than one point of view.
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+3 #4 Long Time Resident 2017-03-20 18:14
The election this year is not a black or white party choice. Yes we have good candidates, and they are connected with both parties. We have a choice for Mayor and a choice to fill the Trustee positions which only means we can select "best candidates." It does not mean they must all come from one party, although they can.
Importantly, this is the first year in many, many years that we the voters have actually been given a chance to see what the candidates think about issues. The CNC rules do not allow this, however, because the election is contested we now have an opportunity to make our decisions based on candidate positions - not just there civic record/credentials.
I believe having choice is a good thing!
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+5 #3 Mark Hafner 2017-03-20 09:46
While I find the Scarsdale Citizens' Non-Partisan Party to represent a continuation of the status quo, which needs to be changed (for one, the Assessor's contract should not be renewed; if the Village Manager insists upon renewing it, then his contract should not be renewed), I find Bob Berg and his colleagues to be downright scary. If they are elected, it will set this Village way back. He has repeatedly demonstrated poor judgment publicly, and would advance his agenda, not one that was in the best interest of Scarsdale. For example, in a 2015 NY Times articled, he stated about the revaluation that Heathcote home owners "they deserve to be hammered." Does this sound like somebody who is impartial, as one is supposed to be that sits on the BAR that hears appeals from home owners on their assessments? Do you think if you live in Heathcote that you would have any chance in front of him? How about the group that was in charge of selecting the next Superintendent? He stated that they were "better qualified to select the next rabbi than the next superintendent. " While the choices are underwhelming, the election of Berg would be a disaster for the Village
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-1 #2 Lena Crandall 2017-03-18 10:00
What is your definition of "personal attack?" All civic volunteers in leadership positions face varying levels of feedback from praise to criticism. But for the late Irving Sloan giving me a pep talk, I would have given up my volunteer activities.

At least in the CNC arena, there are up to 33 other people (30 voting plus 4 non-voting members) holding the speaker accountable. All remarks and reports have to be attributed to reliable sources. I served as Chair this year and I repeatedly encouraged fair vetting practices. The problem isn't with the CNC process.

And, the beauty of the non-partisan system is that it encourages constant review and revision through the Procedure Committee, a group that will soon be reaching out to the community for feedback. Stay tuned.
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+14 #1 Maybe 2017-03-17 22:27
Maybe so few people were willing to run because they did not want to deal with being personally attacked by those with differing opinions.
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