Former two-term Village Trustee and 23-year Scarsdale resident Jane Veron has been nominated by the Scarsdale Citizens Nominating Committee as the Scarsdale Citizen's Non-Partisan Party's candidate for Mayor of Scarsdale. Veron has a lengthy and impressive record of both volunteer and professional positions.
In Scarsdale she was the Chair of the Scarsdale Planning Board, President of the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale, Chair of SNAP, and President of the Fox Meadow Neighborhood Association. In recognition of her sustained and significant impact on the community, she received the Mayor’s Award for Exceptional Leadership and the Daily Point of Light Award granted by Points of Light, the organization founded by President George H.W. Bush.
She is CEO and co-Founder of the Acceleration Project (TAP), a nonprofit that provides high-caliber consulting services to high potential small businesses, particularly those owned by women and People of Color. Prior to TAP, Jane spent her career in strategy and marketing, working at Bain & Company and American Express and also has experience in private equity and venture capital as an investor and board member.
Jane earned a BA magna cum laude from Yale University and an MBA with honors from Harvard Business School.
We asked Jane a few questions about the state of the Village and her agenda for leading Scarsdale. Here is what she shared:
(Q) You had a few months to take a break from Village governance. What did this additional time give you the opportunity to do?
It is not really my temperament to take a break. I remained engaged with Village matters, attending every public Board meeting by Zoom. I also continued to participate as a resident volunteer on the Scarsdale Business Reopening Task Force, sharing best practices and planning for the spring. I listened attentively during the budget meetings and was proud of my former colleagues and Village staff as they dove deep into the line items, wrestling with difficult tradeoffs. As a resident, I appreciated the opportunity to hear their dialogue.
During these past few months, I did spend more time with my friends and family, played more paddle tennis, skied, read and listened to books, and of course, watched trending series on Netflix and Hulu.
I also invested a tremendous amount of time in my professional life. As CEO of The Acceleration Project, a nonprofit dedicated to keeping small businesses and local economies thriving, I worked to ensure we have strong leadership in place to deliver on our high growth plans. We serve underrepresented small business owners, particularly women and People of Color; since the pandemic hit, the national demand for our services has markedly increased. We doubled in size since March 2020 and have great momentum heading into 2021.
I have been spending a great deal of time thinking about how we transition our Village from austerity management during COVID to new beginnings. Many of us have suffered tragic loss and significant hardship, and unfortunately, there will still be tough times ahead; yet I am hopeful that Scarsdale will reemerge from the crisis with renewed optimism, and I am committed to leading the way.
(Q) With some distance from day to day operations, have you had any insights into the way the Village runs and what you might do differently?
(A) Village staff works extremely hard to serve residents, and operating in a COVID environment has taken an enormous personal toll. Yet along with the struggles, we have seen opportunity. Department heads have done more with less, and while some practices are not sustainable, other solutions could become permanent. At the top of the list for immediate adoption should be digitization to promote operational efficiencies. We must leverage technology and rethink service delivery. We need to continue our conversations with residents to understand what they truly value and what we know to be key differentiators for Scarsdale.
(Q) What will be your initial priorities?
(A) At the first organizational meeting, I would like to kick off a strategic and financial planning process. Together, we will articulate a vision for Scarsdale that honors the past and builds for the future. Our mission will be to ensure that Scarsdale remains the best place to live.
As we emerge from COVID constraints, I would like to institute regular work sessions to discuss our strategic priorities. I’ve already reached out to my running mates and former colleagues to listen to their perspectives and have incorporated their thinking.
As a starting point for our strategic and financial planning discussions, I propose four pillars:
Quality of Life
As we collectively detail the priorities embedded in the four pillars, we will consider advancements in three areas:
Together the Board, Staff and community will deliberate, evaluate, and develop short- and long-term plans.
In concert with the planning effort, I hope to institute a reengineered budget process, building on our excellent foundation and augmenting it by incorporating the best paradigms out there. We are entering a new world and must look holistically at our costs, revenues, borrowing and reserves.
With the upcoming retirement of our esteemed Village Manager Steve Pappalardo, a top priority will be to design and conduct a robust and comprehensive search process. Village Manager Pappalardo devoted his heart and soul to our community and set the bar very high. As we know so well, the quality of our Village staff distinguishes us, and we commit to filling this role with someone extraordinary.
(Q) You’ve had many years of experience dealing with many aspects of the Village including land use, downtown revitalization, development and the renovation of the library. What are you most passionate about?
I am passionate about building community, about protecting and enhancing the magic of Scarsdale. We are incredibly fortunate to have unique assets, some shiny and new like our library and others that need immediate attention such as our pool complex. We want to bring vitality to our Village Center and other retail hubs that have suffered enormously during COVID; a thriving local economy will fortify our Village. We need to continue to maintain our beautiful open spaces, parks, and sporting fields. After these months of social isolation, there is pent up desire to come together. I want life to be easier, more uplifting, and invigorating. I am about hope and possibility.
(Q) The Village is facing a deficit due to a loss in revenues and an increase in expenses. It seems that most people value the services the Village provides and do not want to see cuts. Do you think that they would be willing to pay additional fees or taxes to retain these services and programs?
(A) One of the reasons I want to combine strategic planning with financial planning is because I think we need to take an integrated approach. The post COVID world will likely be different from what we’ve experienced in the past. We cannot predict how resident behaviors and needs will change. What is clear to me is that residents value their quality of life, their feelings of safety and security, the uninterrupted delivery of Village services, the beauty and character of tree-lined streets, and the vibrancy of our town. Scarsdale delivers across the board, but there is still significant work to do. While there is much cause for optimism with vaccine roll outs and normalcy on the horizon, Scarsdale will remain under budgetary pressure for the foreseeable future. We cannot know whether our nonproperty tax revenue will return to prior levels. Relying on budgetary surpluses to fund capital projects and taxing to fill the gap is not a sustainable strategy. We are cognizant that our residents feel the pressure.
(Q) As part of the COVID relief package, some in Congress are asking for funds for municipal governments. Do you think Scarsdale will be eligible for these funds?
(A) It would be wonderful to receive funds from the federal government. Our local officials understand most specifically what is needed to reinvigorate our Village. That being said, I would never develop a budget with the expectation that we will be granted funds. I would never build a budget on hope.
(Q) The Enterprise Fund for the Scarsdale Pool has been depleted and the pool complex is in need of repairs. How will you approach this issue?
(A) Day one, I plan to kick off the process to create a visioning study and resident needs assessment for the pool complex. We have deferred focus on the complex, and we cannot continue. The pool is at the end of its useful life, and to keep it functioning, we have been funding emergency repairs. Membership is declining as residents go elsewhere. I firmly believe that if we reimagine the complex and invest in its future, more residents will return and enjoy this amazing asset. By reversing membership declines, we will be able to build back our enterprise fund and celebrate in our new facility.
(Q) The job of Mayor is in many ways a full-time, two-year commitment and you’re a very busy person. How will you fit everything in to your schedule?
(A) Working hard is nothing new to me. I like to get things done and work collaboratively to accomplish more together. I set a demanding pace when I served as Trustee and expect to do the same if I am elected Mayor. On the professional side, I have an extraordinary team at TAP, and they are used to my government schedule. Our rapid growth closely tracks my four and a half years on the Village Board. Everyone on my management team is exceptional in her own right.
All Scarsdale residents are encouraged to vote in the Village election on Tuesday March 16 from 6 am to 9 pm at the Scarsdale Congregational Church, 1 Heathcote Road, Scarsdale. Information on registration or obtaining an absentee ballot can be found here.