SCARSDALE, N.Y. If Harry Reynolds has his way, this year's Scarsdale Village Board of Trustees election will be anything but boring.
Reynolds, a vocal critic of the way Scarsdale picks its leaders, has taken out papers to run for the board of trustees in a challenge to the candidates hand-picked by the Citizens Nominating Committee (CNC) under the village Non-Partisan Resolution. He began his quest Tuesday to collect 100 voter signatures to get his name on the ballot for the March 20 village election.
Reynolds, 83, and his wife of 60 years have spent the past 42-plus years as Scarsdale residents, raising five children who attended Scarsdale schools. A retired lawyer, Reynolds served one five-year term on the zoning board of appeals from 1999 to 2004, he said.
"I love Scarsdale," Reynolds said Tuesday. As far as I know, Scarsdale is the only government in the U.S., or perhaps in all of the common law countries, that has sacrificed constitutional values for the quietude of the issue-less society."
At the core of Reynolds' argument is what he considers secrecy surrounding the recruitment and vetting of candidates for public office. He complains that the voters are not permitted to know who came before the CNC, why the candidates were chosen, and where they stand on issues crucial to the village.
He is especially concerned about not knowing what questions are asked and what criteria the CNC members use in their selection process, he said. He recalled the first half of the 20th century when, he said, the system was used to keep Jewish people out of public office, and suggested the same thing could be done today to keep other groups or classes of people from holding office.
"Having a system like this makes it difficult for people to move here," he said. In a letter to then-Procedure Committee Chairperson Michelle Lichtenberg dated Aug. 13, 2011, that he posted on his blog, ScarsdaleJournal.com , Reynolds wrote, "Are you aware that the secrecy that the Non-Partisan system desires will enable it to conceal the system's incompetence, prejudice, ignorance, or corruption, should it be present but hidden? Why should you ask the public to give you that secrecy? What is it that so attracts secrecy to a Non-Partisan system that was created in reaction to the deceits of organized political parties?"
Lichtenberg, who is no longer chairperson, and CNC Chairperson Dan Hochvert declined comment Wednesday.
Reynolds said he also has an issue, breaking with the village policy of keeping issues and partisan politics out of sight: He wants to add five minutes to the parking meters, making them 20 minutes for 25 cents, and add an additional six-minute grace period to the total time.
"I think the system is wrong," Reynolds said Tuesday. "You can still have a non-partisan system without political parties, without all of the secrecy."
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