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Letters to the Editor in Support of the Non-Partisan Party Slate

SCNPSlateBelow find letters from Evelyn Stock, Janice Starr, Amy Laartz, Carl and Betty Pforzheimer, Carol Stix, Merrell Clark and Susan Duncan in support of the candidates for Village Trustee and Village Justice selected by the Citizens' Nominating Committee:

To Scarsdale 10583.com

Please--it is essential that you vote on March 18 for the candidates of the Scarsdale Citizens’ Non-Partisan Party (Justin Arest, Lena Crandall, Randall Whitestone, and Joaquin Alemany). My opinion is based on my soon to be 50 years living in Scarsdale during which I have been an active community volunteer and on my experience serving for 28 years on the Westchester Fair Campaign Practices Committee (WFCPC) from which I have taken a leave of absence.

WFCPC was established in 1991 as an independent impartial body to examine charges of unfair practices made by candidates against their opponents for any State or local election held in Westchester. What I have witnessed in neighboring communities, including those similar to Scarsdale: false information, personal attacks, self-aggrandizement, charges and counter charges, anger and mistrust, all of which continues from election to election and tears apart the fabric of a community. This has made me appreciate and value our non-partisan system which has provided overall good honest government. That our non-partisan system continually enlists new people to participate—people who generally have made and continue to make significant community contributions-- also serves us well
During my nearly five decades in Scarsdale, I have served on the Citizens Nominating Committee (CNC) three times, the last time approximately five years ago. I have also served on the School Board Nominating Committee. The CNC, a publicly elected body is the core of the Scarsdale’s non-partisan system. Nominees for Village office are selected by the CNC on the basis of their demonstrated interest in various Village activities, which among other things, reflects their ability to relate to people. CNC members vet potential nominees in several ways including reviewing their records of community involvement and contacting those residents the nominees have worked with. This is true for the Citizens’ Non-Partisan Party candidates this year.

This is not to say that the system is perfect. The non-partisan system, of which the CNC is the core, has evolved over time as successive generations of Scarsdalians have modified it to adjust to changing circumstances and community desires. The Non-Partisan Resolution, the foundational document for the nonpartisan system in Scarsdale, has been amended over 40 times by public vote since its adoption in 1930. However, fewer people are willing to run for both the CNC and for Village office. Reasons they give vary—no time, reluctance to run against friends and neighbors, unwillingness to lose. Many potential candidates say, “another time, another year.” To work, the system requires broad participation and support. Everyone I know who has served as part of the non-partisan system has found it worthwhile.

So this season, I urge residents to demonstrate their support for our non-partisan system. It has served our Village well for decades. Enlist your friends and neighbors to join you. Vote Row B for the Citizens Non-Partisan slate—Arest, Crandall, Whitestone and Alemany—on Wednesday, March 18th at the Scarsdale Congregational Church, One Heathcote Road, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
And consider running next time for the CNC or School Board Nominating Committee. You won’t regret it.

Evelyn Stock

87 Catherine Road

To the Editor:
I first became acquainted with Justin Arest in my capacity as the co-President of the League of Women Voters Scarsdale when he was assigned to be the Village Trustee Liaison in his first year as Trustee. From the onset of our working relationship, I was struck by how knowledgeable Justin was on a wide range of complex Village issues. He has often shown an encyclopedic-like knowledge of the Village budget and has displayed the ability to handle himself well in front of large groups discussing anything from the mundane to the potentially controversial. The League annually evaluates the Village’s budget process, and Justin made himself available to us regularly to answer questions and explain issues, whether on the phone or in person. He has a natural ability to distill the essence of complicated issues and explain them in a way that is easily understandable. During budget discussions with his colleagues and Village Staff, Justin excelled at asking pointed questions about the Village Budget and routinely tried to find creative solutions to maintaining desired services and as well finding cost savings.

Over the course of his first year, there were at least a few important matters on which Justin was willing to disagree with his colleagues due to problems he found with the process, as well as substance. I respect his courage to speak up and dissent from the dais.
I was fortunate to work again with Justin as liaison in his second year as Trustee in my capacity as co-President of the Fox Meadow Neighborhood Association. Over and over again, Justin showed his willingness to not only listen to residents’ concerns and attend our myriad events, but I always found him to be additive.

Justin cares deeply about Scarsdale and demonstrates that in the way he carries out his responsibilities as Trustee. I am so impressed with how prepared he is at every single meeting. I once asked him how he makes the time. He laughed and then smiled and told me that it was hard and meant a lot less sleep but, it was also very important to him. He is committed to making the community and the volunteers who have served before him proud.

I strongly endorse Justin for a second term and encourage voters to show up at the polls to vote Row B on Wednesday, March 18th at Scarsdale Congregational Church. The SCNPP slate is vetted, thoughtful, and will represent us well. We are fortunate that they are willing and able to step up to serve Scarsdale.

Janice Starr

Church Lane

To the Editor:

We moved to Scarsdale almost 4 years ago and quickly experienced our first Scarsdale contested election. We didn’t have the local experience to understand the process or know the candidates, but we were struck by the amount of public animosity targeted by a few individuals toward the non-partisan system. Flash forward to February 2020 and not much has changed. I decided to get more involved to better understand the process and answer the question - is it really “rigged” as a few have alleged?

I joined the Scarsdale Forum Climate Resilience Committee and Friends of Scarsdale Parks (FOSP). My interest in sustainability is both personal and professional. I have dedicated over 21 years working as an environmental scientist, ultimately owning a successful permitting and compliance business assisting clients with environmental impacts analysis, wetland mitigation, and navigating Clean Water Act regulations. Working with FOSP to sustain and enhance our green space, trees, streams, and wetlands was a natural step for me to volunteer and support my new community.

I first met Lena Crandall during her tenure as Village Trustee and liaison to the FOSP. She was very engaged in our meetings, articulating her knowledge about environmental issues, and offering advice and viable solutions to environmental issues pressing upon the Village. I really got to know Lena while supervising the planting of about 200 native shrubs and saplings in Harwood Park for the community wetland restoration planting day in 2018. What struck me most about Lena’s commitment to the community was how approachable and transparent she was in answering questions and listening to the volunteers on a variety of subjects. She dug into the mud with the rest of us while taking the time to get to know the community planting team. This is the type of person we want as Village Trustee.

Lena inspired me to become more involved. In 2019 I ran and was elected by my peers in Fox Meadow for a position on the Citizens Nominating Committee. I was thrilled to be a part of the process interviewing and vetting candidates along with 29 other volunteers from our community elected by their respective neighborhood voters. We carefully reviewed the trustee candidates’ community service track record and conducted due diligence through local references. Subsequently, each person on the CNC committee contributed to an open and thorough discussion and ultimately agreed to nominate the following on the ballot for trustees: Lena Crandall, Justin Arest, and Randy Whitestone, and Joaquin Alemany for Village Justice. Thirty volunteers elected by their neighborhood peers came together to review and nominate the non-partisan slate. There is more engagement in this electoral process than there is in state elections!

I’m proud to be a part of this non-partisan process and happy to report the system is not “rigged.” I suspect the details of village politics is something most Scarsdalians have little time or bandwidth for, which is why the CNC’s work in vetting candidates is important. I stand by our choices. Please remember to vote Wednesday, March 18th at the Scarsdale Congregational Church.

Amy Laartz

Old Orchard Lane

To the Editor:
We have lived in Scarsdale since 1965 and our family has strongly benefitted from its unique, non-partisan form of Village and School government. The Village Board and the School District have faced, and solved, many challenges over those 55 years.

Why does the system work? It works because a dedicated and experienced elected body, the Citizens Nominating Committee, finds candidates who are thoughtful and reasoned, collegial and consensus-building, and expert in needed fields. That body eschews candidates who have pre-determined “platform” views or believe they already have the answers to solve a particular problem. It works because people in the system put the interests of the Village or School District first, and their own interests second. It works because the elected officials understand that not everything comes down to that extra tax dollar. It works because, after public discussion and numerous (indeed, some might say endless) meetings and studies, reasoned decisions are made by the governing body usually, but not always, through consensus.

No one is shut out of the process along the way. There is no back-room secrecy. There are opportunities galore to make your opinion known. And the most important opportunity in the process is to make your opinion known by voting. Except for times we weren’t in the Village, we have voted in every election that we could over 55 years. And when we weren’t here, we used an absentee ballot.

We urge you to vote Row B for the candidates put forth by the Citizens Nominating Committee: Justin Arest, Lena Crandall, and Randy Whitestone for Trustee and the Hon. Joaquin Alemany for Village Justice.

Sincerely,

Carl and Betty Pforzheimer

16 Tompkins Road

To the Editor:
Scarsdale is a community blessed with fine schools and first-rate municipal services. Both are led by volunteers selected by their neighbors, then typically confirmed in general elections. The process of selecting candidates is Scarsdale’s Non-Partisan System.

This year the election for Village Trustees and Village Justice will take place on Wednesday, March 18th at the Scarsdale Congregational Church, One Heathcote Road. The Non-Partisan Candidates for Trustee positions are Justin Arest and Lena Crandall for second terms, and Randall Whitestone for a first term. These three candidates have all volunteered with respect to Village civic matters in numerous capacities. Their expertise in various fields and their dedication to Scarsdale are proven and well respected.

They are being challenged by a slate which is critical of the Non-Partisan System, even though it is a system that for decades has consistently persuaded talented resident volunteers to dedicate themselves to overseeing our local government. The platform of this challenging slate consists almost wholly of that criticism. For reasons not explained by them they are unhappy with a non-partisan system that emphasizes open minded government leaders committed to overseeing a professional staff that provides first rate local services with fiscal responsibility minus the wasteful and destructive rancor of clashing politics.

Therefore I urge all who value this tradition to vote Row B on Wednesday, March 18th for the Non-Partisan slate, Justin Arest, Lena Crandall and Randall Whitestone for Trustee, and for Village Justice, Joaquin Alemany.

Carol Stix
Carthage Road

To the Editor:
Scarsdale’s major attractions are well known. Highly rated schools, beautiful homes, Village in a Park, Tudor style Village center, and easy commute.

But what about the ethos? Individual families will find their own comfort zone within the Village, but an overarching umbrella that serves everyone is Scarsdale’s tradition of volunteerism. We aim to get along and do our part. Those with flexible time engage with the community. Thus we learn about the needs of the Village and its residents. We get to know neighbors throughout the community. We get to appreciate and emulate those who seem to give more of themselves, including their talent, time and kindness.

Scarsdale’s volunteer ethos was not an accident. Beginning in 1911, it was designed thoughtfully over many years to encourage a neighborly, friendly social order in which volunteer leaders would be recruited by other volunteer leaders for greater responsibility. The selection of Village Board volunteers has followed this system for decades, after repudiating the rancor that once existed in Scarsdale when political parties attacked each other, when abrasive individuals promoted themselves and their self-appointed colleagues, and when hostility nearly destroyed the community’s spirit. That’s why the nonpartisan system that has nourished Scarsdale for a century was adopted and sustained.

Scarsdale encourages participation of volunteers. There are seventeen neighborhood associations, operated by volunteers in every geographic section of the community. There are numerous sports organizations. Every Scarsdale school enjoys an association of parents and teachers. There are approximately 30 community organizations, such as: Boy and Girl Scouts, League of Women Voters, Junior League, Scarsdale Forum, Scarsdale Woman’s Club, and many groups of Friends (for Music and the Arts, Scarsdale Library, Scarsdale Parks, Westchester Band and others).

In addition, Village-appointed groups of volunteers (boards, councils, committees), lend wisdom, perspective, and expertise to the Village Manager and his staff as well as to the Trustees. And, of course, the Trustees are volunteers who provide their expertise to the Village Manager. Of all the hundreds of volunteer leaders in Scarsdale, the Trustees are honored to be selected and gladly undertake a demanding schedule without pay. They provide an enormous service to the residents of Scarsdale, and as residents themselves contribute balance and insight to the day to day work of Scarsdale’s outstanding professional staff.

The electoral system in Scarsdale, both for School Board and Village offices, avoids partisan politics. Active participation of volunteers from many organizations of the Village is its foundation. Efforts to abolish or challenge it are uncompromisingly indifferent to how this part of Scarsdale’s ethos has benefited the community over many decades. Like the freedoms of our democratic society and the quality of life that we enjoy in our Village, the community “spirit” of our nonpartisan election system is central to the Scarsdale ethos and worth fighting for. Vote the Scarsdale Citizens’ Non-Partisan slate -- Justin Arest, Lena Crandall, Randall Whitestone and Joaquin Alemany -- on Wednesday March 18th.

Merrell Clark
Popham Road

To the Editor:
Edgewood resident Randall (Randy) Whitestone is a candidate for Village Trustee in the election on March 18, 2020. Scarsdale has an exciting opportunity to elect an intelligent and thoughtful leader to help steer our village in the coming years. He has a long family history in Scarsdale and not only raised his children here, but chose to stay even when they grew up and moved away, as children do.

I have known Randy for more than 20 years and have found him to be a calm and steady voice in any discussion. He always seeks consensus in a thoughtful, rational manner. He cares about the issues that are of concern to our residents, such as education and taxes. He has no axe to grind but will listen to the various voices before reaching a decision.

I feel confident that Randy will make a great trustee and commend him to the voters.

Susan Duncan
193 Lyons Road

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