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Meet the Candidates For Mamaroneck Village Trustee: Andres J. Bermudez Hallstrom

Andres J. Bermudez Hallstrom, a Democratic party candidate for trustee, answered a Q&A about his future goals for the village should he win the seat.

 

Come November, the presidential election won't be the only one that draws people to the polls.  Closer to home, six candidates—three Democrats and three Republicans—will be vying for three open trustee seats in the Village of Mamaroneck.

In the next few weeks, Larchmont Patch will be running a series of Q&As with the candidates so you, the voters, know where they stand on issues impacting your community.

This week we'll be presenting the Village of Mamaroneck Democratic Party candidates.

Andres J. Bermudez Hallstrom

Bio (from the Village of Mamaroneck Democrats website): Andres J. Bermudez Hallstrom is a resident of Washingtonville and an attorney with a practice in Mamaroneck. Bermudez Hallstrom has served as a volunteer member of the Flood Mitigation Advisory Committee since February 2012.  He was first exposed to the flooding issues facing the village when he served as a volunteer with the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service and was deployed during the 2007 Nor’easter flooding. Bermudez Hallstrom started his public service at age 17 as a volunteer in the Carnegie Mellon University Emergency Medical Service, where he reached the rank of operations manager. He subsequently joined the Civil Air Patrol and now serves as a captain and commander of the Lt. Anthony L. Willsea Cadet Squadron in Harrison. Bermudez Hallstrom earned a B.S. in political science from Carnegie Mellon University and a J.D. degree from Pace University School of Law. He graduated from Fordham Preparatory School. 

Larchmont Patch: What are some of the major issues facing residents in the Village of Mamaroneck?

Andres J. Bermudez Hallstrom: The economic downturn has forced individuals, families, and municipalities alike to make hard financial choices. The best way to face this challenge is openly and with input from members of the community. I believe the general lack of transparency and communication from village government is a threat to the character of our village. When residents are empowered with more information and engaged with more respect, our community will be better equipped to make budget and land use decisions that reflect our values and protect our quality of life.

Larchmont Patch: As a board member, how would you help make the village a better place to live?

Bermudez Hallstrom: If elected, I plan on ensuring that board decisions are made in the open, with information being shared with residents. I believe that backroom deals are not what residents want or deserve, and that the old ways of running the village have lead to unnecessary and avoidable problems such as litigation and conflicts between village boards. I will also seek, consider, and respect feedback from the various volunteer committees and the public at large. These resident volunteers have vast experience, and it wasteful and disrespectful not to make the best of that knowledge.

As for village finances, I will work to implement long-term financial planning to ensure that public infrastructure is properly maintained so that we fix small problems now before they become larger and more expensive. By way of example, consider the Beach Pavilion roof, which has been leaking for years, had money budgeted to repair it for at least three years, yet has not been repaired, potentially causing long-term problems that may cost even more to fix. I will also seek alternate sources of revenue such as collection of unpaid parking tickets, so that we can ensure the village is less dependent on property taxes for its operations.

Finally, there is the issue of development. As a trustee I would insist that development be responsible and preserve the quality of life for the village. To consider only the potential tax revenue from development is myopic. The overall impact to the village, from traffic, to schools, to parking, to flooding, must be taken into account when considering new development. I also believe the village will be best served by considering zoning comprehensively, instead of through piecemeal and ad hoc variances.

Larchmont Patch: As a resident of Washingtonville, you live in one of the areas that suffered the greatest losses from both the 2007 Nor'easter and Tropical Storm Irene. How do you think this shapes your perspective towards future flood mitigation policies or actions that the village should take to prevent further losses in the coming years?

Bermudez Hallstrom: I was one of the many residents who was forced to evacuate during Irene. The major problem I had as a resident was a lack of information. The village put out alerts saying people in flood-prone areas should evacuate, but did not describe where those areas were. Residents who were not around for previous floods had no way of knowing if they were required to evacuate. A lack of timely information causes chaos, which could lead to unnecessary losses should we get hit by larger storms.

During my time helping out in the shelters, I noticed many specific issues. During both the 2007 storm and Irene, the shelter lost most of its power. The emergency lighting was completely inadequate and made operations and living in the shelter much harder than it needed to be. The wonderful Red Cross volunteers were able to handle the problem, but this issue could be easily avoided by the installation of a generator. I brought this issue up in the Flood Mitigation Advisory Committee, but the village has taken no action so far. I also noticed a lack of presence from village officials and a lack of official information. Evacuees were relying on information from unofficial sources, which caused widespread confusion and a unnecessary stress for residents who were unsure if their homes had been damaged, or where to go for assistance, or even whether the shelter would be available for more than a night. I believe the village must be ready and able to provide accurate, multilingual, and timely information to residents before, during, and after an emergency.

Larchmont Patch: What made you want to run for the VOM board?

Bermudez Hallstrom: I’ve lived most of my life in Westchester, and I really love living and working in the Village of Mamaroneck. We enjoy a special blend of small-town character, diversity, opportunity, and natural beauty that makes this a great place to live and to raise a family. I also strongly believe in the importance of public service. My ongoing commitment to the Civil Air Patrol and my work with the Emergency Medical Services have been extraordinarily rewarding experiences. I believe the ability to serve the public is the highest honor that can be bestowed on a citizen, and I welcome the opportunity to apply my skills and dedication to the betterment of our village and my fellow residents.

Larchmont Patch: Although there are many contentious issues in the village, one that seems to have resonated with local residents is a recent violation from the EPA that the village received for high fecal coliform counts in various spots throughout the village.  Do you think this issue is one that can be resolved within a reasonable time frame and, if so, how?

Bermudez Hallstrom: I believe we must first figure out the cause of the contamination before we could possibly hope to commit to a timeframe for fixing the problem. If the contamination is caused by faulty sewer lines, it could be another example of short-term savings that end up costing us much more in the long run. If the contamination is being caused by illegal sewage hookups or dumping, then we must dedicate appropriate resources to enforcement and correction of the problem.

Whether the cause is broken lines, improper hookups, dumping, or inconsiderate geese, it is our obligation to ensure that our waterways are kept as clean and safe as possible. Whatever the cause, I believe that with the Board of Trustees focused on the issue, the village will be able to deal with and fix the problem in a timely manner.

Larchmont Patch: How will your background in community services like EMS and Civil Air Patrol inform your work on the board?

Bermudez Hallstrom: My volunteer work taught me how the smallest things can make all the difference to a person in need, and a group of people working together can change the world for the better. Being a squadron commander in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and former operations manager of an EMS Squad taught me that getting people to work together requires more than just being the person in charge. True leadership requires gathering opinions and information from subordinates in order to be able to reach one’s goals.

On a more practical level, being in CAP and EMS has given me an opportunity to work with various government agencies and departments (police, fire, Office of Emergency Management (OEM), military, etc…), and has taught me the importance of coordinating across departments and organizations in order to be effective.

Mary Too October 05, 2012 at 01:24 AM
. Baloney! As the majority, the Democrats had the power to correct any perceived lack of transparency. "The other trustees" should be CONGRATULATED for not going along with Hofstetter's irrational behavior. . .
Harold R. October 05, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Mary Too, No, sorry Mary, it is not baloney, look it up. It is his job alone and no matter how cowardly others act it does not relieve him of that responsibility.. 4-400 1. It shall be the responsibility of the mayor: b. to provide for the enforcement of all laws, local laws, rules and regulations and to cause all violations thereof to be prosecuted; I agree that the Democrats, if they had acted as a majority, could have put the brakes on Rosenblum's behavior but they didn't. Hofstetter regularly stood up to his rantings but it is hard when Rosenblum is shouting "You're out of order" and not one other trustee will help reign him in. They really haven't served residents well on the transparency front.
Mary Too October 05, 2012 at 02:21 AM
"I agree that the Democrats, if they had acted as a majority, could have put the brakes on Rosenblum's behavior but they didn't" . Thank you for making my point! And why didn't they put the brakes on Rosenblum's behavior? Because both Toni and Sid were thoroughly fed up with Hofstetter's behavior too, and they were in total agreement with the Mayor when he put the brakes on John and his minion. Let's not lose sight of the fact that Savolt used to put the brakes on John too. It's nothing new!
Harold R. October 05, 2012 at 11:42 AM
Mary Too, What don't you understand about personal responsibility? If your child went into a store with his friends and stole candy would you scream at his friends for not stopping him? For you, it seems that everything good that happens in the Village is because of the Mayor and everything bad is Hoffstetters fault. Time to demand a little personal responsibility from all of your elected officials Mary! They are adults not children! You expect a child to whine and complain that his actions are not his fault. When you become an adult you are supposed to have matured to the point that you are responsible for your actions. As an adult, you are extended certain privileges in exchange for following laws that society has agreed upon. If you are lucky enough to be elected to a public leadership position the responsibility is greater because your actions affect the lives of others. When the Mayor and trustees fail to take responsibility for their actions they degrade us all. You have lived in the Village long enough to understand that the Mayor's bullying behavior and failure to take responsibility for his actions is nothing new for him. You remember when he pulled a gun on a group of teenagers, don't you? Remember how he made up a "I didn't know the gun was loaded" excuse which the judge didn't buy? I know you support the Mayor but at least acknowledge what he is, a man-child, and don't encourage his bad behavior by blaming others for it.
Allison October 05, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Here's a question that I'd like opinions on after you read what's in the link below- What is the village of Mamaroneck doing better for you than what the TOWN can provide? http://larchmont.patch.com/articles/town-of-mamaroneck-residents-weigh-pros-and-cons-in-town-survey
Mary Too October 05, 2012 at 06:47 PM
. Harold, your analogy is comical. The balance of what you stated is just the same old smoke and mirrors. Hofstetter is history. Had he decided to run again, he would have been voted out, and HE KNEW IT. ,
Harold R. October 05, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Mary, My analogy is spot on. What is comical and sad is that you can't seem to have any kind of discussion of substance. You make an inaccurate statement about who is responsible for the Village following the law, I quote you state law and you call it "smoke and mirrors".. I give you a factual insight into your Mayor's character and it is "smoke and mirrors". A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Mary Too October 05, 2012 at 07:22 PM
. Harold, you never let facts interrupt the easy flow of your B.S. .
Mary Too October 07, 2012 at 09:21 PM
. "Hmmmmmmm, nobody has confirmed it either!" Harold, here's a little "confirmation" for you from "Sound and Town Report": http://www.hometwn.com/hometown-media-group/sound-town-report/mamaroneck-dems-shuffle-party-chairs/ Enough confirmation?????? . .
Mary Too October 07, 2012 at 10:40 PM
. "everything good that happens in the Village is because of the Mayor and everything bad is Hoffstetters fault" THAT JUST ABOUT SAYS IT ALL! " When you become an adult you are supposed to have matured to the point that you are responsible for your actions" SO WHAT HAPPENED TO HOFSTETTER? .
Stefani Kim October 08, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Hi, Just wanted to remind everyone to refrain from personal attacks as it goes against Patch's user policy. Comments with personal attacks will be removed. Best, Stefani
Mary Too October 24, 2012 at 12:57 AM
At an informal "Meet the Candidates" held today at the Senior Center, Hallstrom FINALLY disclosed that he has lived in Mamaroneck for only 2 years. Following his presentation were the three Republican candidates for Trustee. Two of them have lived here for ALL OF THEIR LIVES, and the third for almost 40 years. It was abundantly clear who the attendees favored.
Julie A October 25, 2012 at 05:30 PM
What do you mean "FINALLY disclosed"? That info has been up on this discussion board since Sept 24th. There was no secret. The author of this article simply chose to leave out that information initially. It's incredibly bizarre that you keeping harping on residency, because I'm not sure why living in the village 50+ years is a good thing. I'm certain that having three candidates with identical backgrounds (old, white, lived in Mmk forever) is NOT a good thing. Mamaroneck is special because it is home to a diversity of ideas, ages, races, and personal histories. I would think you would want a ballot that reflects that? The only thing that is "abundantly clear" is who YOU favor. We get it - you would vote for the Republican candidates no matter what. It is also "abundantly clear" that you personally know the Republican candidates for Village Trustee and are gunning for them no matter what. Your comments are all over this site and they are aggressive, mean and ill-informed. STOP TROLLING.
Mary Too October 25, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Up until now, race and “old” age have not been part of this discussion. By introducing these to this discussion you give all indications of being a bigot. You are correct on one point. THIS YEAR, I will be voting for the Republican candidates no matter what, and here’s why. I am not impressed by someone’s 2 year longevity in the village. I am not impressed with the fact that someone is in the Civil Air Patrol. I am not impressed that someone is an amateur radio operator. I am not impressed with the fact that someone is an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church (GOOGLE IT). All of these have nothing to do with making village related decisions. I am not impressed with a financial wizard who advocates financing fines against the village by the issuance of municipal bonds (IT’S AGAINST THE LAW). I am not impressed with the same candidate who thinks that Mamaroneck has a housing authority (IT DOESN’T). I am not impressed by a candidate who wants to reduce the size of the police department. . (continued) .
Mary Too October 25, 2012 at 10:12 PM
. (continued) . Here are the things that DO impress me. I am impressed by someone who is trained in storm water management, environmental matters, sanitary sewer design and who also ran his own business. I am impressed by someone who is currently a code enforcement officer in another village, served on the Mamaroneck Board of Architectural Review, served on the Mamaroneck Zoning Board of Appeals and the Mamaroneck Historical Society. I am impressed by someone who has previously served as a Village Trustee and on the Mamaroneck Avenue Task Force as well as the Mamaroneck Recreation Committee. I am impressed with someone who was a well-liked teacher in our village for 28 years. And yes, I am impressed with candidates who have lived their ENTIRE LIVES in the Village of Mamaroneck. Finally, I am impressed with, and highly respect, someone who is a Vietnam Veteran who in spite of being “old”, fought for the rights of people like you to write the garbage that you posted. .
Conrad Heyer October 26, 2012 at 12:48 AM
From what I am hearing the Village election may be decided one issue and it won't be on how old you are! Hampshire Country Club. Anybody seen the bumper stickers that are popping up around Orienta "No Hampshire Zoning Change"? Saw my first one today. There is a letter going around too. Hampshire wants to build 120 condos in five story buildings but they can't do it without the Board of Trustees voting to re-zone the entire property. The Mayor has been meeting privately with the developers and is waiting until he can get a majority on the Board to vote it through. People in Orienta are freaked out, traffic, congestion, increased taxes, environmental degradation and the threat that this would lead to the other clubs in the neighborhood to do the same thing. What I hear is that three old guys are down with Norm on this one so the democrats are going to push the issue. That must be what the bumper stickers and letter are about.
Conrad Heyer October 26, 2012 at 12:09 PM
I just read this weeks Sound and Town paper. Of all the local papers it has the best reporting I have found about local issues. This week it has long interviews with all the village candidates and an article about the guy who was abused by the police in a village park and nobody seems to know what happened. I saw this guy on television but hadn't seen any reporting previously. Over the summer I moved back to VOM to help supportt my parents, after having grown up here in the eighties. I find a very different community than I left 25 years ago. I have been irregularly watching the trustee's meetings with my folks and must admit I may be getting hooked! One thing I do notice is that the Friendly Village may have turned into the Angry Village. The tone set for the meetings by the Mayor is contentious and only gets magnified by his angry interactions with Hoffstetter and the public. The other trustees appeared to have been cowed into subservience to the Mayor. The interviews with the candidates are interesting. Two of the Republicans had nothing to say, one sentence answers to most questions. Belisito had thoughful answers The Democrats had uniformly long answers that said very little, alot of good sounding language but no meat. Hallstrom at least brought up a couple of specific things even though one of them was banning smoking in the parks because there are more cigarette filters that goose crap! Why not ban filters or geese?
Mary Too October 26, 2012 at 11:38 PM
. In the current issue of the Sound and Town Report, there are interviews of all six Trustee candidates. Curiously, all of the DEMOCRATIC candidates, including Mr. Hallstrom, bring up an alleged lack of transparency that exists with the current Board of Trustees. Since the DEMOCRATS currently have control of the BOT, I can only assume that the perceived lack of transparency must be the fault of the DEMOCRATS. If the DEMOCRATS should prevail in the upcoming election, why would I believe that the transparency problem would cease to exist? .
LifeLongResident October 27, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Why do you care about this transparency Mary? I don't know why anybody cares about this, you can watch the board meeting on tv, for years you couldn't do that, what else do these people want.? I want to talk about this Hampshire thing. Conrad is right, I saw one of those stickers today, they say no. Hampshire zoning or something. If what Conrad says is true why would anyone be against it? 120 new houses would bring in a ton of jobs and taxes. The Mayor should be meeting with developers to get this done, that is why he was elected Mayor. He has turned this Village around I hope he wins this year so he can make this happen.
Mary Too October 27, 2012 at 02:03 AM
. Life Long Resident, the Mayor is not running this year, but he will be running next year. I totally agree with you that he has turned this Village around and I also hope that he wins, but we'll have to wait 'til next year. This year I will be voting for Belsito, Cucinella, Sudano and Bienstock Cohen. .
Mary Too October 27, 2012 at 02:06 AM
In this article, Potok stated, “THIS IS NOT A CALL FOR CUTTING THE POLICE DEPARTMENT”. Yet on page 8 (last paragraph) of the April 23, 2012 BOT minutes, CURRENTLY on the village website, I read, “Mr. Potok noted that about two-thirds of the budget is allocated to salaries and benefits. The Police Department has a surplus of officers compared to other departments its size. HE RECOMMENDED REDUCING THE POLICE STAFF BY ATTRITION OR OTHER”. In this article, Potok also made a comparison of the sizes of the police departments of the Village of Mamaroneck and the City of Rye, stating that “THERE MIGHT BE OPPORTUNITIES TO MANAGE WITH A SMALLER DEPARTMENT”. He should have spent the time to look at the crime/arrest statistics of the City of Rye versus those of the Village of Mamaroneck. Those statistics clearly justify a larger police department in Mamaroneck than in the City of Rye. Figures don’t lie, but liars figure!
Julie A October 27, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Mary Too, that is simply NOT TRUE. According to the The Westchester Fair Campaign Practices Committee — an independent, non-partisan fact-checker — the Dem ticket did NOT call for a 30% reduction. "The Committee determined that the statement was false because the three Democratic candidates had never said the Mamaroneck Police Department should be reduced by 30 percent. One of the Democratic candidates, Mr. Potok, in his role of chairman of the Village of Mamaroneck’s volunteer Budget Committee, had recommended that “the Board should look carefully at any possibilities of reducing staffing and the impact of such reduced staffing.” However, there was no mention of reducing the staffing 30 per cent by Mr. Potok or any of the other Democratic candidates." http://bit.ly/Xx2Efx
Nancy October 27, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Read the article again. The Trustee minutes are wrong. Don't believe me, watch the tape on LMC-TV and come back and tell us what you've heard. You're right about liars figure. That's exactly what the non-partisan Fair Campaign Practices Committee found about Norm's figures. And guess what they said about Norm's and Lou's figuring? They were gentle about it, but Norm is a pathological liar and he proves it with his repeated lies.
LifeLongResident October 27, 2012 at 10:58 AM
Mary,I don't understand what article everybody is talking about. I don't see any article about the police force anywhere here. Please let me know where I can find the article.
Mary Too October 27, 2012 at 04:09 PM
. LifeLongResident, you will find the article at: . http://larchmont.patch.com/articles/campaign-practices-committee-rules-against-statement-made-by-mamaroneck-republicans#comments_list . However, keep in mind that this so-called non-partial committee is the same one that ruled that it was OK for Latimer's campaign to label Bob Cohen a "slumlord", but ruled against Suzy Oppenheimer for doing the SAME THING when Cohen ran against her. . WHAT A JOKE!!!!! .
Nancy October 27, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Mary, Mary, Mary, You've got it all wrong, again. The Committee "agreed with Mr.Cohen that scenes and events were fabricated", and did not rule on whether he was a slumlord. He didn't challenge Suzi Oppenheimer's charge that he was a slumlord. But then Cohen challenged Latimer's charge that he was a slumlord, and the Committee agreed with Latimer that Cohen is indeed a slumlord. The Committee is impartial and nonpartisan, and it did find that Rosenblum is a liar!
LifeLongResident October 27, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Thank you so much Mary, I am not as experienced as you! I read the whole article and the decision by the board and it does seem like the Mayor was wrong on this one. He must not have understood what was said. I don't see what the big deal is though, he should just say he misunderstood what was said and it is over.
Mary Too October 27, 2012 at 09:31 PM
. LifeLongResident, you’re welcome. I don’t think that it’s a big deal either, and the decision of the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee will have a zero affect upon the outcome of the election. Furthermore, the Committee is a toothless tiger, with no enforcement power whatsoever. If the Mayor chooses to defend and repeat his 30% calculation, he still has the right to do so. Whatever the case may be, Potok clearly wants a reduction in the size of the Village of Mamaroneck Police Force, 30% or otherwise, and in my eyes that is totally irresponsible. .
LifeLongResident October 27, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Mary, 30% is wrong but I think that was the point of the article, nobody said that. I even figured out how to go to lcm tv and I watched the meeting! They have them there from years ago! I thought potok was talking about looking into it, I don't see the harm in that People don't have any money we might be able to do with 1 or two less cops no? What do we have 30 or 40 in the village, shouldn't we atleast look into the idea? My biggest concern right now is the hurricane and I can't seem to be able to get info. I went to the village's website and there emergency section doesn't work, you can only get a little info and when you try to get more it doesn't work. I saw on the Patch there is going to be a state of emergency, and I don't know what that means, what I should do.. Do you know if there are evacuation centers? or where I can find out?
Stefani Kim October 28, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Hi, From the VOM press release: "In the event that the effects of the storm are significant enough, residents in the flood prone and coastal areas should be prepared to evacuate. If an evacuation is required, a temporary shelter will be set up at the Mamaroneck High School gymnasium located on Post Road. This decision on whether or not to evacuate will be made Monday."

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