Trustee Sameer Ahuja Discusses Cell Service Gaps, a Second Term and Why He Likes Living in Scarsdale
- Wednesday, 15 March 2023 09:13
- Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 March 2023 22:16
- Published: Wednesday, 15 March 2023 09:13
- Joanne Wallenstein
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The Village election will be held on Tuesday March 21. On the ballot is Sameer Ahuja who is running for his second term as Scarsdale Village Trustee. See below for what he accompllished in his first term, and what he plans for his second.
Tell us about yourself – what do you do professionally and why do you enjoy living in Scarsdale?
Professionally, I am the President of GameChanger, a 140-person sports technology company that is on a mission to help families elevate the next generation through sports. GameChanger's mobile apps are used in all 50 states by millions of youth sports coaches, fans, and athletes to score, stream, and watch youth sports. 1 out of every 6 youth sports games in the US are on GameChanger and more games are covered every spring month on GameChanger than in the entire history of Major League Baseball.
2023 marks my 38th year connected to Scarsdale. My immigrant experience is inextricably tied to Scarsdale - my family moved here when I was in the 6th grade, and I graduated from Scarsdale High School in 1992. Subsequent to that, many weekends were spent here with my folks enjoying all Scarsdale has to offer. I moved back with my wife and two daughters in 2014 and it has been a wonderful experience for all of us.
Were you involved in any community organizations before serving as Village Trustee? If so, tell us about your contributions.
I was a member of the Village Advisory Council on Communications prior to serving as Village Trustee. In this capacity, I focused on leading the initial phases of the redesign of the Scarsdale website. It was a multi-month endeavor, working closely with Village staff and the third-party design firm on rewriting dozens of pages of site content and revamping the site’s design and look and feel. This experience provided me the opportunity to build relationships with and learn from several dedicated members of our community, from resident volunteers to Village staff.
I also focused my service on our community’s youth, serving as a volunteer softball coach for Heathcote girls for five years. The role of a coach has special rewards, both from the excitement that kids bring to team sports, and from the heartfelt appreciation that parents have for your efforts.
I took on the Trustee role with a non traditional set of prior experiences, relative to peers. I feel I have been up to the task, successfully scaling a very steep learning curve and contributing in virtually every area of the Board’s work. That was only possible because of the time and mentoring given to me by so many of Scarsdale’s most dedicated volunteers, trustees and staff. I thank them for their support.
What are a few issues/initiatives you worked on during your first term as Village Trustee?
I’ve embraced the opportunity to transform our technology infrastructure so that the Village has a foundation to deliver 21st century services, not just next year, but 20 years from now. Along those lines, I have been working with the Technology Advisory Council to bring in an outsourced provider to operate Village’s IT. Just this week, the Board voted to authorize the Village Manager to complete an agreement with our preferred vendor.
I also partnered with the TAC, Village staff, the Mayor, and the Village Attorney to work to close wireless coverage gaps in the Village. The Board voted in February to authorize the Village Manager to enter into an agreement with Verizon Wireless to conduct work to address some of these gaps, in Fox Meadow, in the area of the High School and Fox Meadow School. Few topics have had more support from the community. This is a topic of crucial public safety and quality of life, and I am proud of the progress here.
I have also chaired the Economic Development and Land Use pillar within the Mayor’s Strategic and Financial Planning framework. Our pillar has worked with the Board, staff, and residents to advance a project to transform our Village Center, everything from complete streets, to pedestrian safety, to new retail.
Finally, I have been the Vice-Chair of the Pool project, and we have made significant progress in planning a project to revitalize this treasured community asset so it may serve the next generations of Scarsdale.
Why do you enjoy serving as Village Trustee and why do you want to continue for an additional two years?
I love being a Trustee because of the relationships and interactions with other people that the role affords. First, virtually all of our committed volunteers and staff are intelligent, caring, and inspiring people, who I enjoy learning from and spending time with, and they are all generous with their time and effort. Second, it means a lot to me to set an example, at a minimum for my kids, and youth in general, for the importance of public service. Finally, perhaps my favorite activity as a Trustee is engaging with the community at large in meetings, forums, and 1:1 outreach - it has been a chance to get to know so many amazing people.
Our work is not done, and I look forward to the chance to serve two more years. Important topics such as ongoing budget management, the Pool, the Village Center, wireless coverage, Village and volunteer personnel, and others need ongoing effort.
You were recently involved in the recommendation to co-locate antennas at the Public Safety Building and at Village Hall to improve cell service. What was the process for identifying this solution?
This project has been a remarkable multi-year effort that has featured:
-A remarkable level of collaboration, on the day to day work between Village staff, the Village attorney, volunteer residents, and Village Board members
-Unity on the part of the community - in February, residents from all over town, public safety leaders, school board and district leaders, neighborhood association representatives, came out in support of the work
-Renewed partnership between Scarsdale government and crucial private enterprise, in this case Verizon Wireless
Without all of these things, the project would not be moving forward
What are some of the additional priorities of the Technology Advisory Council? What do they expect to tackle next?
Two major projects, at a minimum. The first is successfully onboarding and supporting the soon to be hired Managed Service Provider that will direct Village Technology work. The second is continued work to address wireless service gaps across Scarsdale.
The pool, lights at Crossway Field and possible transit-oriented development are all issues before the Village Board. How do you prioritize items for the agenda and how do you reach consensus on decisions?
I look forward to the Mayor’s and Village Manager’s leadership during this next term to establish priorities for the Village based on the current state of things, the community’s wishes / expectations, and any practical realities/constraints such as availability of funds. It will be crucial that the Board be realistic about its most important priorities and be willing to say no to important, but unrealistic priorities during this upcoming term.
Stormwater management and flooding remain serious issues in some neighborhoods in Scarsdale. How can the Village identify and implement long term solutions?
Thankfully this topic has been one of the current Board’s priorities. But the community’s work here is not done. I suggest we consider a mental model to “not fight the last war”. Given apparent climate trajectory, we should prepare not just to address the types of events that we have experienced recently, but also attempt to prepare for more extreme events. It’s a reality that our residents typically need government most when dealing with an extreme, unpredictable event. At a minimum, our leaders and staff should train themselves to be ready to rise to the occasion when such an event occurs.
Con Edison is replacing the infrastructure for natural gas delivery in Scarsdale at the same time that NYC is outlawing the use of gas in new buildings. What are your thoughts on fulfilling Scarsdale’s energy needs now and in the future?
I have not had the chance to deep dive on this topic, and will plan to do so if elected to a second term. At a general level, I support a practical, realistic, step by step transition to a future of renewable energy that incorporates all stakeholders.