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Scarsdale LWV: Keep Secrecy in Village Elections

SCARSDALE, N.Y. – Keeping secrets is a good thing. That is the consensus opinion of the Scarsdale League of Women Voters when it comes to Scarsdale's election system.

The LWV released its opinion paper Wednesday based on a study conducted by its non-partisan village election system study committee. The committee members are co-chairs Jackie Irwin and Kim Meyers, Elisabeth Bassin, Renée Baylor, Barbara Jaffe, Deb Morel, Ann Sacher and Amy Scharf.

The group spoke about its research at an April 23 meeting at the Scarsdale Public Library. According to committee member Amy Sharpe, some communities similar to Scarsdale have a more open non-partisan system, with public candidate interviews, multiple candidates for each seat and publicly stated positions on issues.

In the members-only discussion and vote that followed the public presentation, the LWV came to the conclusion that continuing the system as is would be Scarsdale's best bet.

The system's secrecy spurred Harry Reynolds' independent candidacy for the board of trustees in this spring's village election. Reynolds drew more than 400 votes, fewer than half the votes received by the three Citizens Nominating Committee candidates.

According to the LWV statement, "The League supports the CNC's nomination of a single candidate for each village office vacancy. ... The League reaffirms its position that CNC deliberations on candidates for village office should remain confidential. ... The League recommends that the CNC should NOT publicize the names of potential nominees for village office. This position differs from the League's 1996 position on the issue."

The LWV did suggest one change in the system.

"The League recommends that the Procedure Committee propose an amendment to the Non-Partisan Resolution ... providing that the CNC elect the chair and vice chair of the following year's CNC from its outgoing class of voting members. Currently, the Resolution requires that the president and the first vice president of the (Town and Village Civic Club) serve as nonvoting members of the CNC, with the president serving as chair (or, in his or her absence, the vice president serving as chair) of the CNC. The League notes that these individuals need not have served previously on the CNC."

The LWV also recommended that the Procedure Committee establish a defined method of financing the committee and the CNC's expenses.

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