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Vote Row B for a Return to Civility in Village Hall

arestmeetandgreetJustin Arest and a supporters at the Meet and GreetThis is the opinion of site founder Joanne Wallenstein
On Tuesday March 20th, residents will vote to elect three Village Trustees in the second contested election in two years. This year, three candidates, Justin Arest, Lena Crandall and Jane Veron have been selected by a democratically elected group of residents called the Citizen’s Nominating Committee to run on the Non-Partisan Party slate, and one candidate, Robert Berg, is running independently. For those who don’t follow Village politics, last year Berg ran as an independent candidate for Mayor -- and after a polarizing campaign he lost by a 2:1 margin.

I have nothing against contested elections. Elections are the hallmark of democracy. However, in a small town like Scarsdale, I do object to the nasty and divisive rhetoric and campaign tactics.

At a recent candidates forum hosted by the League of Women Voters Berg insulted the Village Attorney, the current Village Board and the Mayor. He said the Village Attorney let us violate the constitution and that the Village Board let him trample on our constitutional rights. He said that two of the current Trustees who are attorneys don’t understand constitutional law.

Berg’s campaign signs are an insult to those who are currently serving and the nominees. The signs say, “Vote for a Leader, Not a Lemming!”

His personal attacks make even those who are sitting in the audience uncomfortable.bergsign

At various time during the forum he used bombast and hyperbole to describe the state of the Village. Referring to the Non-Partisan process he said, “The system is broken in town.” He said the roads looked like “Damascus” and that Scarsdale is a “disaster.”

How to address these issues? He suggests we pass a $4 million bond referendum to repair Village roads, but at the same time appeals to empty nesters by claiming he will reduce taxes. Now how does that work?

Putting aside the insults, Berg is clear that he doesn’t believe in building consensus. At the forum he said, "I don't believe in the process of consensus. We get the wrong answer because we try to reach consensus. We have to explore all the arguments, look at the angles, take a vote and the majority should rule. That's a great weakness here; everyone has to be Kumbaya.”

Berg went as far as to file a lawsuit against the Village for removing signs from the Village right of way, causing the Village to spend funds on attorney’s fees to defend the suit.

In his closing statement Berg defended himself against charges of bullying, claiming that “Despite my reputation as a bully, I am not a bully. I am forceful…. I get along with people.”

Is he a bully? I have had my own experience with Berg and his followers that make me reluctant to write my own opinion on my own website.

Here’s what he recently said about Scarsdale10583 in the lawsuit mentioned above. Keep in mind the suit, which concerned the placement of political signs in the Village right of way, had nothing to do with the site.

Veron2Trustee Jane Veron engaging with residents.He wrote, “The leading gossip blog in Scarsdale, hardly rising to even the level of yellow journalism,, has orchestrated a determined no-holds barred “defeat the bond” campaign for months, highlighted by Fake News stories replete with factual inaccuracies, bias, refusal by the editor to post contrary viewpoints or facts, and vindictive bashing of bond supporters by anonymous internet trolls.”

Though he denies any links to the anonymous “trolls” who continue to attempt to post nasty comments on Scarsdale10583, they all denigrate the SCNP candidates and favor Bob’s candidacy. i.e. the internet trolls are his own. Even after we changed our policy to require names and email addresses, the trolls made up pseudonyms and opened email accounts in an attempt to post nasty comments on the site.

Given Berg’s views on Scarsdale10583, I was surprised to receive numerous emails from Mr. Berg asking for prominent featuring of his campaign announcements and letters of support on the site. Why, I wondered, would he want to be associated with such dreck?

Though he suggests that I don’t have a right to express my own views and that my opinions are biased, I refuse to be intimidated from writing editorials from time to time on important issues before the Village. I own the website and I have every right to say what I think.

So, if you’re wondering whom I am supporting on Tuesday, it’s the three candidates -- Justin Arest, Lena Crandall and Jane Veron in Row B, who have been nominated by the Citizen’s Nominating Committee. They have all demonstrated a willingness to listen, engage in civil discourse, do a thorough analysis of the issues and build consensus to forge solutions. I am not alone in my view - see below for a list of your neighbors who also support the Non-Partisan Party candidates.

If they are elected, hopefully they can return civility to Village Hall and stop the nasty, vindictive personal attacks that make sitting in the audience so uncomfortable.

Vote for the Scarsdale Citizens’ Non-Partisan Party slate in Row B on Tuesday. The polls will be open from 6 to 9 am and noon to 9 pm at Scarsdale Library.

Kumbaya Scarsdale!


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