Tuckahoe needs better fiscal management

Our Republican opponents, one of whom has served as a Village Board member since 2015, recently praised the current Board’s “great fiscal management” on their Facebook page.

Here’s the truth…

It took nearly 2 years of scrutinizing and oversight from the NYS Comptroller’s office for Moody’s Investor’s Service to upgrade the village’s credit rating from “A3” to “A2.” This current “A2” rating is only halfway up the Moody’s 10-step rating scale. Tuckahoe needs to climb 5 MORE STEPS to achieve Eastchester or Bronxville’s “Aaa” rating.


Meanwhile, our village debt has skyrocketed to nearly $6M!

Tuckahoe has the highest property taxes around

Tuckahoe’s cost per $1,000 assessed value is $540, whereas Bronxville is $310, Scarsdale is $441 and Eastchester is $350.

Since 2011, our property taxes per assessed value have gone up 20%.  Bronxville has gone up 8% and Eastchester 9%. Even with the higher taxes, the Tuckahoe Mayor and trustees have failed to hold the line on taxation compared to our neighboring towns.

Tax Rebates for Developers

Over the past three years, The Village Board has given out $1.26M in tax rebates, mainly to developers and institutions. To put that number in perspective, Eastchester, which has 3 times the population of Tuckahoe, has only given out $587,000 in rebates.

In 2015, Tuckahoe’s tax rebates amounted to over $800,000, given to mainly to developer and to an institution. What did the village board do? They disguised it by putting it on our village credit card and issuing a $1.2 Million bond.

Trustee Leo never objected to any of this, and Mr. Lang has signed on in support of the current Board’s failed economic policies.

We Can Do Better

Omayra Andino currently manages a $15M budget and 380 employees. Sarah, a small business owner herself, understands the economic issues facing our village. We need to eliminate wasteful spending, promote our small businesses and generate additional revenue through sales tax. This can lessen the tax levy increases on property owners and lower our reliance on unpredictable “fines and fees.”

And above all else, we need honesty, transparency and accountability when it comes to our village’s budget process.

Statement on Parkland, Florida School Shooting

While our Village is primarily engaged in local municipal issues, it is hard not to react to the massacre that occurred last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida.

On Valentines Day, just before dismissal time, 17 young lives were gunned down at the hands of a mentally ill individual armed with an extremely deadly automatic weapon. Many others were wounded, including one student who was shot 5 times while closing the door to a classroom in an effort to protect fellow students.

Classmates of the victims have shown a tremendous amount of courage in the past week, speaking out on news programs and demanding action from elected representatives at all levels of government.

As we saw with the mass shootings in Las Vegas, Orlando, and Sandy Hook, the arguments in Congress over common sense gun laws and addressing mental illness continue. But unfortunately, so far, there is only talk and no action.

It has been said that these issues of national debate have no place on the local level. We disagree. Local mayors, city councils and village boards are duty bound to do everything in their power to protect residents, and there is no greater threat to public safety than the threat of illegal guns.

More than 1,000 local mayors have already taken the first step by signing a pledge entitled “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” by the nonprofit organization Everytown for Gun Safety. Here in Westchester County, mayors in Ardsley, Harrison, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, Yonkers, White Plains, Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown have joined this non-partisan coalition. We ask Tuckahoe Mayor Steve Ecklond and Eastchester Town Supervisor Anthony Colavita to consider doing the same.

We also believe more can be done in Tuckahoe and Eastchester through community policing, with our devoted officers establishing a rapport with students and school officials. This can be accomplished by periodically assigning officers to our schools, and increasing patrols. Our neighbors in Bronxville have already announced that they will undertake this initiative.

As a member of the Executive Board of the Waverly and Anne Hutchinson PTA, Sarah plans on discussing ongoing efforts to develop additional safety precautions so we can reduce the chances of our school community having to deal with any kind of violence near our schools. This includes greater support of mental health detection and services as well.

Our children are our most precious assets. This should not be framed as a partisan issue. There are good ideas on both sides of the proverbial political aisle and we welcome the assistance of the current Village Board of Trustees in working with us to keep our children as safe as we possibly can.

Omayra Andino and Sarah DeRise

Tuckahoe Democrats to host fundraiser

The Tuckahoe Democratic Committee will be hosting a fundraiser in support of Omayra Andino and Sarah DeRise, candidates for the Village Board of Trustees, on Sunday February 25.

The fundraiser will be held at the home of Sarah DeRise, 204 Dante Avenue, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

If you are unable to attend but still wish to support our campaign, you can contribute online or mail a check payable to “Tuckahoe Democratic Committee.”

For more information, contact Chairman Chris DiGiorgio at (914) 309-5163.

Maher defeats Marcotte for District 10 seat

Originally published in the Eastchester Review.

Following a nationwide voting trend, Damon Maher, a Democrat, defeated Westchester County Legislator Sheila Marcotte, an Eastchester Republican.

According to unofficial results from the county Board of Elections, Maher garnered 6,482 votes, or 53 percent, to Marcotte’s 5,713, or 47 percent.

Maher, a 23-year resident of New Rochelle, was at the Coliseum White Plains when he discovered that he was beating the three-term incumbent Marcotte.

“I’m still kind of numb,” he told the Review on Wednesday morning. “I ran intending to win; I didn’t run to be another sacrificial lamb.”

Serving as his first foray into politics, Maher said experiencing the campaign trail was “wonderful.” “I was going door to door and met a lot of really nice people,” he added.

During the campaign, Maher followed the countywide Democratic playbook of aligning Westchester Republicans with President Donald Trump. He specifically tied Marcotte and County Executive Rob Astorino to Trump’s nationalistic views and agenda.

“First of all, we should have people reflecting our values at all levels of government,” said Maher, a managing partner Levy Davis & Maher, a Manhattan-based law firm that focuses on employment disputes.

Maher said his platform reflects what he believes are Westchester’s values: fair and affordable housing; banning gun shows on county-owned property; and a county free of xenophobia and fear-mongering. He also supports an immigration act, enacting a women’s clinic access bill that has been proposed at the state level, and funding for daycare.

But ultimately, this election cycle was likely more a backlash against Trump than anything else. “I think the most important factor was last year’s election,” he said. “A lot of people had a strong feeling that what happened doesn’t reflect the values of our community in Westchester and this district.”

Maher added that Marcotte supports much of Trump’s views. “I was the complete opposite,” he said. “We didn’t have to get into the nastiness of personalities, because it was very clear that we were very different. More voters agreed with me this time around.”

The county’s 10th legislative district covers the town of Eastchester, the village of Tuckahoe, and most of the city of New Rochelle north of Interstate 95.

County legislators are elected to serve two-year terms. In 2016, Marcotte received a salary of $57,977.

Marcotte could not be reached for comment, as of press time.

Tuckahoe Dems nominate full slate for village board election

Originally published in The Eastchester Review.

The Tuckahoe Democratic Committee has nominated three candidates to challenge for three seats on the village Board of Trustees that are currently held by Republicans.

Anthony Fiore will run for mayor, while Nicholas Naber and Kathryn Thompson will both seek trustee seats.

Fiore, 56, ran unsuccessfully for trustee in each of the last two years; but this year, he will challenge Mayor Steve Ecklond, a Republican who has not been contested in his last three campaigns. Fiore is a lifelong Tuckahoe resident, a volunteer firefighter for the Eastchester Fire District, and a former member of Tuckahoe’s auxiliary police force.

Ecklond is seeking re-election and will run alongside trustees Greg Luisi and Tom Giordano, both Republicans, who have been his running mates for each of the last three election cycles.

Thompson, 35, has also received the Democratic nomination. She has lived in Tuckahoe for two years, and has worked for four years at the Wildlife Conservation Society and the New York City zoos and aquarium. She said she is an advocate for the environment, education, and human and women’s rights.

Joining Fiore and Thompson on the Democratic ticket is Naber, a Tuckahoe resident of four years who teaches seventh- and eighth-grade history in the Yonkers public school district. Naber, 31, previously told the Review in announcing his candidacy for elected office that he was concerned with ensuring the village’s safety during the cleanup of a toxic property on Marbledale Road which has been approved by the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation. He also said that it was important to add more politically diverse voices on the village board, which is currently all-Republican.

The board has not featured a Democrat in two years, since Stephen Quigley, a Democratic trustee, died in office in May 2015.

During the Jan. 30 village Republican Party nominating caucus, Ecklond, Giordano and Luisi received the party’s nominations to run for their fourth full terms in their current board roles.

During the Eastchester Conservative Committee caucus on the same day, Conservatives chose to to cross-endorse all three Republicans.

A fully contested election in the village—considered unusual in recent years—heated up even more this week when three Tuckahoe residents announced that they had created a new party called the Tuckahoe Independent Party in order to run outside of partisan parameters in the March election. That electoral ticket features a bipartisan slate of Melba Caliano, a registered Republican, and Sarah DeRise and Jessica Cioffoletti, both registered Democrats.

With their entry into the race, there are now nine candidates vying for three available seats. No more than four candidates have run in a contested race since at least 2007.

Tuckahoe elections have also been plagued by low voter turnout, as no more than 300 voters have participated in any village election since 2007, when then Trustee John Fitzpatrick, a Democrat, won the mayoral election against incumbent Mayor Michael Martino, a Republican, by a vote count of 746 to 704.

The mayor and trustees of the village board serve two-year terms. This year’s election will be held on March 21. The mayor receives a salary of $7,282 per year, and each trustee receives an annual salary of $5,075.