John Hofstetter got an early introduction to local politics from his mother, Beth, who was a trustee for a decade during his formative years. That experience made an impression, and influenced him to later run for the same office.
But Hofstetter waited to run when he felt he was truly in a position to dedicate the time and energy necessary to be a trustee. Following a 15-year career in publishing – working at Random House and Simon & Schuster, among other companies – Hofstetter switched gears to become a local real estate agent five years ago. Now that he had a new career in the area, he felt the time was right to run for public office.
Patch interviewed Hofstetter to find out why the third time may be the charm for this trustee.
Q: Why are you running for reelection? What is your inspiration/motivation?
A: I am currently in my second term as trustee, and am going for a third because I feel the village needs a little bit of historical knowledge. We have a new village manager, a new assistant manager, a new attorney, and I think being able to provide some background on important issues being faced by the village is very important. I want to make sure the village is in the best hands possible.
Q: Do you think partisanship of the board has been a problem? If so, how do you hope to rectify that going forward?
A: I think that the mayor ran on a campaign of open government, wanting input from people, and I am in favor of that as well. Having an open government means you have to be willing to really listen to a broad spectrum of opinions. It's a work in progress.
Q: What do you see as being the most pressing issues facing the Village of Mamaroneck today and in the near future?
A: A lot of what we faced when I first ran for trustee were land-use issues. We worked to ensure that current residents were protected and we didn't want developers to have the upper hand. There are still a lot of [parcels] that are open for development.
In addition, there are a number of lawsuits outstanding. The current board has come to realize just how difficult resolving some of these issues can be. It is easy to say, "Let's make a deal," but at the end of the day, it has to be what is best for the village.
Q: If reelected, what would your priorities be?
A: Land use issues are certainly a priority. There is a large swath of land across from Harbor Island, and there's the old Blood Brothers project [a former auto wrecking site on Waverly Avenue] behind Bilotta [Home Center Kitchen & Bath]… which is stalled at this point. The industrial section off of Fenimore Road has the potential for a mixed-use retail area, but we need to find a way to make that happen without undermining village services.
We have a vibrant business district at a time when others aren't necessarily doing so well. As a community, we made investments in the business district and that portends well for us. I would like to expand that further, but we need to incorporate and not forget about those businesses located on Mamaroneck Avenue down to I-95.
Q: What special skill sets/ideas do you bring to the table?
A: I have a great knowledge of this community, having grown up and lived here all my life. I think I am fairly patient and look to find out all the facts before making a decision that is in the best interest of the village. I feel my historical perspective enables me to see through an issue and understand what the most pertinent pieces of information are.
I make myself readily available. I'm a local real estate agent, and I waited until my job was local so that I could devote the time and energy necessary to be a trustee.
Q: As the incumbent, what advantages do you have over those looking to unseat you?
A: I think slightly differently and look at what the financial impact is on the taxpayers, whatever the issue might be.
Q: What accomplishments are you most proud of achieving during your term as trustee?
A: Frankly, early on – with Tom Murphy and Kathy Savolt – we hired a full-time attorney, which was key in really getting our costs under control. At the time, our attorney fees were escalating substantially. Our full-time attorney showed up at all the meetings, representing us from beginning to end in all the sessions, providing great service and good experience in municipal law. It is a shame that it was decided that we should go in a different direction.
We passed a new Ethics Law, which provides protection for residents and is a way of making sure that transactions are kept at arm's length. I think it is very important for us to have guidance on how business is conducted in the village.
John Hofstetter is a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker in Larchmont. He and his wife, Jennifer, are raising three daughters in Mamaroneck.
Editor's Note: This is the sixth in a series of profiles that ran this summer. We are featuring them again a few days before Election Day in case you missed them. If you have questions for the candidates, ask them in our comments section.