by Mayra Kirkendall-Rodríguez
When I started working at JPMorgan on the emerging markets trading desk in London, my French-Tunisian boss took me out to dinner to discuss whether I should be a trader or an analyst who gives market recommendations. She said “Mayra, if you are the kind of woman who could see yourself at the roulette in Monaco gambling, you should be a trader. Or are you the woman who likes to stand behind a man and tell him what to do?” Without hesitating, I answered, “I am a woman who likes to stand beside a man and tell him what to do.” Little did I know how prophetic that statement would be.
When Robert Berg asked me to be his campaign chair, I was flattered to be part of this historical moment. For the first time in almost two decades, the Voters’ Choice party offers Scarsdale citizens a full slate of outstanding individuals, Robert Berg for Mayor and Brice Kirkendall-Rodríguez, Carlos Ramírez and Robert Selvaggio for Trustees, to run against a party that was created 106 years ago and has mostly run uncontested.
Our vote finally matters in Scarsdale, because we have a choice, which is at the heart of democracy. The choice before you on March 21st, on the ballot, are Rows A or B. The party in Row A has the experience of not running a property valuation for 45 years and then running two in two years where over $1.5 million of your hard earned taxes have been wasted. Electing Row A is voting for a mayoral candidate who has publicly stated on that ‘I agree with the decision to oppose the Article 78. I believe the path the Village is on will take us to a proper resolution.’ Row A means electing a board that has not been transparent as evidenced in the still missing 2,400 emails that could shed light on why exactly there was such urgency for the Ryan reval.
Choosing Row A is having a board that has not conducted a study of the condition of our roads in 9 years. Row A is a board that would have a concentration of three real estate professionals and no one with economics, modeling, accounting, or technology expertise. Row A is electing a board that does not have a single minority despite Scarsdale having a population that has 20% minorities.
Row A says it is the party of experience. Yet, Oscar Wilde observed that ‘experience, is what people call their mistakes.’ While all human beings have a wide range of personal and professional experiences, very few have expertise. Even fewer have expertise to run a municipality.
Fortunately, you have Row B for better government. You can elect Bob Berg, Brice, Carlos and Bob Selvaggio who are currently successful in their careers where they manage budgets, in some cases the size of Scarsdale Village’s, give portfolio recommendations to demanding investors, lead projects in technology in media, advise on complex tax and accounting issues for individuals and companies, and work on intricate legal cases.
In a world of geopolitical risks and domestic policy uncertainty, diversity of skills and expertise is critical. Scarsdale needs people who work managing risks that can arise from uncertain economic, political, legal, and market forces.
The VCP candidates have skills and expertise that are applicable today in our village. For example, there has been rising concern in Scarsdale about crime. The VCP candidates want to work closer with our police discussing the use of technology and data to prevent crime and to make our residents more alert to help them protect themselves. Both Carlos and Brice have worked on a wide range of technology issues and Carlos has served as a volunteer in the Village’s technology committee.
The VCP candidates have an incredible amount of expertise to identify and manage challenges in budget designs and audits. Carlos is an accountant. Brice has helped manage a budget of about $50 million in his media and technology company. Bob Selvaggio has a PhD in economics and is an expert in municipal finance, which means that he understands the challenges that pensions, healthcare and post employment benefits pose to our village. He also knows how to analyze various options to finance paving our roads and improving our infrastructure. Robert Berg has an MBA and has regularly attended both Village and school budget meetings.
VCP candidates also have foresight as evidenced by the fact that Robert Berg told the Village in 2015 that it should not conduct the Ryan reval or it would be a train wreck. Here is a man who was not even affected by the Ryan reval and who has a deep sense of empathy for residents who are the unwitting victims of the unsupervised Assessor.
The VCP candidates and their supporters have been working hard to earn your vote. The VCP stands for fiscal responsibility, cleaning-up the unsupervised Assessor’s office, confronting the infrastructure challenges before us, and making Village Hall transparent.
Two months into working with the Voters’ Choice Party candidates, I know that I am standing by the right men. Only if choice and democracy return to Scarsdale can there be the transparency and accountability that the discipline of competitive elections brings.
Mayra Kirkendall-Rodríguez is the Voters’ Choice Party Campaign Chair and lucky wife of Brice.