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Scarsdale Trustee Candidate Rips System of Secrecy

SCARSDALE, N.Y. – Scarsdale Village Board of Trustees candidate Harry Reynolds filed his nomination papers Friday and began his campaign with an attack on the very system  he eschewed to get on the ballot.

“Scarsdale’s Non-Partisan System describes itself on the internet as ‘…representative government in its purest and most democratic form,’” Reynolds wrote in a press release dated Friday, Feb. 17. “ In a process secret from beginning to end, Scarsdale’s Non-Partisan System keeps secret the identities of persons seeking its  nominations to elective office, and it keeps secret what is said when those applicants appear before its nominating committee where neither the applicant nor the committee itself may discuss any issues. “Issues” are anathema. The committee’s object is to divine from the applicant’s history the applicant’s desirability as a mayor or trustee. If nominated, she runs in an uncontested election in which she will not campaign, make promises, raise or debate any issues. Is this ‘…representative government in its purest and most democratic form?’”

Reynolds said his concern about the system’s secrecy is threefold: It does not allow citizens to judge the elected Citizens Nominating Committee’s judgment when it comes to vetting and choosing candidates, it does not allow voters to know where the candidates stand on issues crucial to the village,  and it does not allow citizens to know who has been rejected.

“In the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s,” he wrote, “the secrecy of the Non-Partisan System was notoriously used by that system to keep Jews out of Scarsdale’s public offices (see, O’Connor, Carol A., “A Sort of Utopia, Scarsdale, 1891-1981,” pp. 98-100) at the very time that Hitler was scourging and slaying Jews in Europe.  … Do you want class or religious hatred or social injustice of any kind to reappear in Scarsdale because of the Non-Partisan System’s infatuation with secrecy and your failure to strike it down? Look to history when it taps on your window.”

Reynolds also asked, “Do you accept the system’s belief that you should not be told what a prospective trustee or mayor knows, thinks, believes, plans, or desires concerning issues directly affecting our lives?  Is that secrecy proof of  ‘representative government in its purest and most democratic form,’ or is it the very opposite of a democracy?”

The Board of Trustees election is set for March 20.

The Scarsdale Citizens' Non-Partisan Party has endorsed incumbents Kay Eisenman and Jonathan Mark for reelection to the Board of Trustees. The party also named Scarsdale native and attorney David Lee as its choice for the seat currently occupied by David Toder, who was not eligible to run for reelection, having served two terms.

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