SCARSDALE, N.Y. Listen. Reason. Be respectful. Find a consensus.
These were the common themes Thursday night as Scarsdale Citizen's Party Board of Trustees candidates Kay Eisenman, Jonathan Mark and David Lee addressed a gathering of about 20 people at the Scarsdale Public Library. The candidates forum was sponsored by the Scarsdale League of Women Voters.
A fourth candidate, Harry Reynolds, declined to attend but asked that an opening statement be read to the audience.
The statement, as emailed to the LWV and The Daily Scarsdale , was read by moderator Susan Weisfeld of the Bronxville-Eastchester-Tuckahoe LWV:
"Will you tell your children that you can't tell them why the mayor was elected because it's a secret? he wrote. When they ask you why you voted for the mayor, if you didn't know why the mayor was nominated, what will you say? When they ask you why people vote for mayor and trustees when it seems no one ever runs against them, what will you say? When they ask you if Scarsdale is a democracy in which the reason for electing everyone is a secret, what will you say? If your children seem to be smiling at you in a kind and gentle way, and you ask them why they are smiling at you in that way, and they say, "It's a secret!", what will you say?"
Reynolds withdrew from the forum when he learned he would not be allowed to discuss the Scarsdale Non-Partisan System.
Candidate opened with a brief statement of their background and qualifications, then took LWV questions before answering questions submitted by the audience. All three cited funding the village's many capital needs in a tight economy as being among the most important issues facing the board in the next year.
While incumbents Mark and Eisenman talked about their experience on the board in relation to what they bring to the position, Lee talked about his enthusiasm and excitement and his ability to listen to others, respect everyone and find consensus.
Many of the audience questions dealt with development, property rights and drainage issues. Mark pointed out that property issues are mostly laid out in the village code and if residents disagreed with the code, the trustees would have to look at making changes.
All three carefully answered a question about the state's 2 percent tax levy cap, saying they backed it in theory. Lee said he was OK with it because communities were given a way to override it, but praised the way it reminds communities to be fiscally responsible. Mark said the problem is with the implementation of the law that mandates certain municipal expenses but does not exclude them from the cap. Eisenman echoed a theory advanced recently by Village Manager Alfred Gatta, saying she believes the cap was Gov. Andrew Cuomo's attempt to force small municipalities to consolidate.
While Lee and Mark stayed away from any mention of the village non-partisan system, except to thank the Citizens Non-Partisan Party for choosing them as candidates, Eisenman praised the system.
"I think the non-partisan system is the reason we are all sitting up here," she said of the candidates. "I don't think any of us are politicians. It never occurred to me that I would be a trustee." She said the system encourages people who care about the village rather than personal goals and issues to serve. "I am grateful for that system."
Scarsdale voters will go to the polls March 20 to choose their 2012-2013 trustees.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.