By Linda R. Killian and Mary Beth Gose
As long-time residents of Scarsdale, we cannot recall such impairment in the functioning of municipal government. Due to a loss of faith in the Board of Trustees, Scarsdale faces critical questions of governance that must be openly discussed before we can return to being a well-run village.
Unfortunately, this cannot be addressed by candidates representing the Citizens Non-partisan Party (CNP) because they refuse to confront and discuss the issues in public. As a result, we plan to support the new Voters’ Choice Party (VCP), represented by four experienced professionals who are committed to an open, transparent government that involves the residents as stakeholders in developing solutions to local problems. Not only do these candidates welcome input from residents, they are unafraid of accountability, which, they believe is critical to a healthy, balanced government.
As long-time supporters of and participants in the CNP system, we did this after much reflection. We became convinced that the CNP has become so institutionally inbred that it is impervious to reform and tone deaf to the concerns of too many Scarsdale residents. Last year, we both served on the Procedure Committee, which considered a laundry list of proposed reforms intended to improve its process for nominating candidates to the Village Board. Nearly each one of the reforms put forth was rejected, in particular the important reform that would allow candidates to talk about their positions and thinking on local issues.
This was unfortunate, because over the last four years, the Board of Trustees has made several significant decisions that have eroded the confidence and support of Scarsdale residents. Starting with the two votes to give the residents of Christie Place a tax break subsidized by all the rest of us, the Ryan reval debacle, taxes that escalate at twice the rate of inflation and most recently the vote to use Scarsdale taxpayers’ money to litigate against Scarsdale taxpayers suing over the Ryan reval, the Board of Trustees seems to be stubbornly digging itself deeper and deeper into defending and supporting entrenched positions, without an open self-assessment and review of those decisions.
In recent years, there have been too many public hearings on contentious issues that are followed by immediate votes by the Board of Trustees and their reading of prepared statements that skirt the real reasons for their votes. They avoid responding directly to the views expressed by residents during the public hearings.
Voting for VCP candidates doesn’t mean you reject the CNP concept. Retaining our unique non-partisan system, particularly if it is reformed, may be in the best interests of the community and heighten resident participation, which is the foundation of a healthy, balanced CNP. In fact, the original 1930 Non Partisan Resolution has been amended more than 40 times to accommodate changing times and needs. The occasional contested election and outbreak of democracy focus us on what’s important for our Village.
Public and private boards of directors should undergo periodic self-assessments to evaluate their effectiveness, policies and procedures. The emergence of the Voters Choice Party gives voters a choice between their candidates and their positions on issues and the silent CNP candidates. March 21 will be our opportunity for Village-wide self-assessment. We strongly urge all registered voters in Scarsdale to actively participate by voting.