Introducing the Candidates for Mayor and Village Trustee
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
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Last week the Citizens Nominating Committee announced their slate of candidates for the Scarsdale Citizens Non-Partisan Party, for election on Tuesday March 21 from 6 am to 9 pm at Scarsdale Public Library.
On the ballot are former two-term trustee Justin Arest, who is running for Mayor, Karen Brew and Sameer Ahuja who are running for second two-year terms as Village Trustee and Dara Gruenberg who is running for her first term as Village Trustee. Cynthia Dunne is running for Village Justice.
Below are the biographies of the candidates for Mayor and Village Trustee.
Justin Arest has lived in Scarsdale for 10 years. He has served two terms as a Village Trustee from 2018-2022. While on the Village Board, he held leadership positions in various areas including chairing the Personnel and Finance Committees. Justin was Deputy Mayor from 2020-2022 under both Mayors Samwick and Veron. He was actively involved in the searches for important hires including the Assessor, Treasurer, Attorney and Village Manager. Justin worked closely with Village Staff and key stakeholders to improve the Village’s budgeting process to make it more effective and the information more easily available for the public. During the pandemic, Justin, alongside the Mayor, trustees, and Village Staff ensured that our government had the ability to support the continuity of essential services. As the chair of the Village Center Task Force, he collaborated with staff and the Scarsdale Business Alliance to find ways for residents and other visitors to safely shop and eat in Scarsdale, also providing needed revenues for our local merchants. Professionally, Justin is an attorney and has spent the past fifteen years investing in and managing commercial real estate mostly in the NY area. Justin graduated from NYU Stern with a B.S. in Finance and International Business and earned his J.D. from GW Law School. Justin resides in Heathcote with his wife, Allison, and children, Madeline and Julian.
Sameer Ahuja has been a resident of Scarsdale for a combined 22 years dating back to 1985 when his family immigrated to the U.S. He has served as a Trustee of the Village of Scarsdale since April 2021 focused on technology, economic development, and DE&I. Sameer has also been actively involved in the school community, serving as a youth softball and basketball coach for Heathcote girls for several years. Sameer leads New York-based GameChanger Media Inc., a 150-person sports technology company whose mission is to elevate the next generation through sports. GameChanger unites thousands of communities in all 50 states. He is a long-time entrepreneur with nearly 20 years of experience as a Founder, CEO or COO of high-growth technology businesses in four different industries - location-based entertainment, fintech, investment management, and sportstech. Sameer also writes a blog, Complexity Everywhere, about unexpected events in markets, politics, and society. He also serves as an Advisor to Women in Sports Tech. Sameer graduated from Scarsdale High School, has a B.A. in Economics from Columbia University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He resides in Heathcote with his wife Sima and two daughters, Anya and Ella.
Karen Brew has lived in Scarsdale for 18 years. She is completing her first term as Scarsdale Village Trustee. Prior to her work as Trustee, Karen served on the board of the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale and on the Executive Committee of the Scarsdale High School Scholarship Fund for College. Karen also was a member of the School Board Nominating Committee (SBNC) and the SBNC Administrative and Joint Committees. Karen was involved for many years with Scarsdale’s schools, serving as the Edgewood PTA President, Treasurer, on various Edgewood, Scarsdale Middle and Scarsdale High School PTA committees; as well as serving on the Executive Committee of the Parent Teacher Council (PTC). She also served on the Scarsdale Bowl Committee. Karen most recently worked part-time for nine years as an Executive Recruiter with Koren Rogers Executive Search. Before that she had various leadership roles in marketing management, strategy and consulting in the consumer goods and financial services industries. Karen earned a B.A. cum laude from Cornell University and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. Karen resides in Edgewood with her husband (Richard) Damian. They have two grown daughters, Emily and Madeline, who graduated from Scarsdale Schools.
Dara Gruenberg has lived in Scarsdale for the last 11 years. She is the President of the Friends of the Scarsdale Library and was Co-Chair of the Library’s Capital Campaign. She is the Chair of Scarsdale Village’s Advisory Council on Communications and a member of the Village Board of Ethics. Dara is also a Vice Chair of the Foundation Board at White Plains Hospital, a Vice President at Westchester Reform Temple, and a board member of Feeding Westchester. In recent years, Dara served as a board member of the Scarsdale Forum and the League of Women Voters Scarsdale, and she was a member of the Scarsdale Bowl Committee. Dara also served on the Citizens Nominating Committee and was the co-chair of the Scarsdale Citizens Non-Partisan Party Campaign. In 2018, Dara received the Scarsdale Family Counseling Rising Star Award for her leadership within the community and volunteerism. In 2021, New York State Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins selected Dara as one of her three Women's History Month honorees in recognition of her Covid relief efforts. Prior to moving to Scarsdale, Dara was a teacher and school administrator at an independent school in Manhattan. Dara has a B.A. cum laude in Classics from Barnard College, Columbia University and a Master of Education in School Administration from Bank Street College of Education. Dara resides in Fox Meadow with her husband, Jon, and their two children Cornelia and Jake.
CNC Selects Slate for Mayor and Village Trustees
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 1909
The Citizens Nominating Committee has selected the Scarsdale Citizens’ Non-Partisan Party slate for Mayor, Village Trustees and Village Justice.
For Mayor, Justin Arest, who served two terms as Village Trustee, has been nominated to lead the Village. He is an attorney with keen financial acumen and was instrumental in steering the Village through the financial crisis during the COVID pandemic.
Nominees for trustee, Sameer Ahuja and Karen Brew are currently serving their first two year terms and have been active and engaged board members. Notably Brew guided the Village through their decision making on changes to the laws regarding the sale of cannabis, and Ahuja has championed technological innovations. They are both nominated to serve their second term.
Newcomer Dara Gruenberg holds many leadership roles in the Village and is now President of the Friends of the Scarsdale Library and co-chaired the library’s capital campaign that raised the funds to build the new library. She is Chair of the Scarsdale Village Advisory Council on Communications and received the SFCS Rising Star Award in 2018.
Cynthia Dunne, a former Assistant in the U.S. Attorney’s office is currently serving as Village Justice.
Here is the slate:
Justin Arest of 2 Lakin Road, a Village Resident for 10 years, Mayor
Sameer Ahuja of 30 Secor Road, a Village Resident for 22 years, Trustee
Karen Brew of 29 Ferncliff Road, a Village Resident for 18 years, Trustee
Dara Gruenberg of 24 Hampton Road, a Village Resident for 11 years, Trustee
Cynthia Dunne of 14 Edgewood Rd, a Village Resident for over 15 years, Village Justice
The General Village Election will take place Tuesday, March 21, 2023. The election will be held at the Scarsdale Public Library, 54 Olmsted Road in the Scott Room. Voting hours will be from 6:00 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Omer Wiczyk served as Chair and Janet Han served as Vice Chair of the CNC. In addition to the candidates for Village office, the CNC selected Jared Stern as Chair and Mary Pat Jones as Vice Chair for next year’s CNC. The CNC also elected Heath Sroka to serve as Vice Chair of the Procedure Committee.
“Starting in late November 2022, the CNC searched for potential candidates and then conducted extensive diligence. While deliberations and reference conversations are not shared publicly, the CNC considered and carefully researched the background, experience, and qualifications of each trustee candidate and engaged in significant deliberation,” said Omer Wiczyk, Chair of the CNC. “We thank the CNC Members for their hard work and diligence in selecting this strong slate of candidates,” he continued.
Letter to the Editor: The Library Did the Right Thing
- Written by Diane Greenwald
- Hits: 3300
(This letter was submitted by Diane Greenwald)
Open Letter to Scarsdale:
Please join me in thanking the Scarsdale Library Board, Library Director Elizabeth Bermel and the entire Library staff for their professionalism, clarity and good judgement regarding a controversial request from Brave Publishing for Kirk Cameron, former sitcom actor and current political activist, to read his ‘children’s book’ in our community. The Library legally declined to sponsor his program but has accepted their request to rent a room, also required by law.
In their Dec 19 statement, we learn that our public Library’s multi-purpose rooms, “designated public forums” cannot be denied to a renter based on content. “First Amendment jurisprudence requires libraries to rent facilities equitably regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of those who seek to use them.” We could face legal action, which was threatened in the press. But room rental is not an endorsement of the content and, importantly, the Library has discretion concerning programs that they initiate or sponsor, “based on educational suitability and audience interest.” The statement goes on to explain, libraries (including ours) “are often pitched programs or events by members of the public, publicists, and authors, and a public library is not required or able to put on every program requested.” Bottom line, room rental is not an endorsement.
The Library did the right thing.
Going forward, I encourage our community to read statements at www.scarsdalelibrary.org for accurate and vetted information. As more questions arise, I urge this community to be patient for the facts and follow the Library for updates. It is gratifying to see many in our community choose to reflect on this story as informed consumers, rather than speculate, assume and perhaps fall prey to misinformation, as has been sensationalized by Cameron and his agenda-driven publisher/publicist.
This situation has landed at our door, unwelcome, and we can pull together and not allow this ugly agenda to divide us. We do not have to frame this reading as Kirk Cameron, Brave Publishing and Fox News dictate, as part of some partisan culture wars, in this instance, as their ‘alternative’ to a popular drag queen reading hour program. We should not give them that power.
Why is his message the opposite of the message from drag queens reading books? It is not an either-or! Maybe the Library-sponsored programming variety we value is that we welcome drag queens to read stories about tolerance and self-acceptance, and so, we can welcome other members of our community (and beyond) to read about self-acceptance and tolerance. Fire fighters, CEOs, bakers! Different types of learners, different perspectives and life experiences -- come read to us! I can think of nothing more American than tolerance.
We can be people who respect this guy’s right to rent our space, and we do, but we do not have to listen to him or feed his craving for attention. And we can tell our own stories, without diminishing each other, or anyone else. Again, this does not have to be partisan, and the only elephants and donkeys I want see at the Library are Babar and Eeyore. The Library is under no obligation to promote their program and we can ignore it too.
During my years of service to the Library, I often described this institution as a “cornerstone of democracy.” This could not be truer today. I am grateful that our library, placed on the front lines of this worrisome issue, understand the law, and reflects our values, “committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion for all community members.”
I hope you all agree, our answer to this program is love, as American as apple pie. It can our response together. LOVE IS LOVE. SCARSDALE IS LOVE.
Happy holidays, in peace.
Former Library Board President;
Ally to our LGBTQ+ Community;
Proud, Accepting American and Global Citizen
SVAC Crew Assists in Buffalo Snow Emergency
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 511
An ambulance crew from Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps travelled to Buffalo on Tuesday December 27, 2022 to assist with the snowstorm emergency at the request of Erie County EMS officials. The ambulance and two paramedics, Caitlyn Kockler and Kyle Shryock, answered a backlog of 911 calls that received no response during the storm. People were stuck inside their homes as it was too dangerous to drive. Road conditions made it unsafe for ambulances to answer their cries for help. The team worked 12 hours shifts, answering about one call per hour.
Below are photos of what they found on the snowy streets of Buffalo.
Sign Up for Flu and COVID Vaccines at SVAC December 17
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 1240
Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps will be holding a clinic for Flu Vaccine and COVID Booster Vaccine for 12 years old and up on Saturday, December 17th from 11:00am to 3:00pm. Please sign up on their website at www.scarsdalevac.com. Sign up for vaccines is open today through Wednesday evening at 9:00pm. They are ordering as much vaccine as is required, so there is no wastage.
Please bring your health insurance information and driver’s license for identification. They will be submitting requests for payment to your insurance company directly. They are not requesting co-pays.
They are also providing flu and covid booster vaccines for the homebound. Please call 914-722-2288 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your home vaccination.
Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps
Flu and COVID Booster Vaccine Clinic
Saturday, December 17th – 11:00am to 3:00pm