Democratic voters will choose between Westchester County Legislator District 7 candidates Catherine Parker and Tom Murphy in the primary elections on Tuesday, Sept. 10.
The two candidates are vying for the seat that will be vacated by Democratic legislator Judy Myers, who is not seeking re-election. District 7 covers the city of Rye, Mamaroneck, Larchmont, portions of Harrison and New Rochelle.
Murphy is a former Mamaroneck Trustee and Parker is currently a Rye city council member. The winner will appear on the Democratic line on the ballots for the general election in November. The Republican Candidate is John Verni, of New Rochelle.
Why are you running for County Legislator for District 7?
Because I want to help restore peoples faith in County government as a positive force in society that reflects our hopes, dreams and aspirations. The county can both provide services and help those who want to work hard make a better life for themselves.
What in your experience and background prepares you for this job?
I think my experience on the Village of Mamaroneck Board of Trustees makes me uniquely qualified to run for County Legislature. Mamaroneck's diversity closely mirrors the diversity of the County both economically and socially. I have shown an ability over the years to be able to relate to and understand the issues of folks who span that wide spectrum.
What differentiates you from Catherine Parker?
While I have a lot of respect for Catherine I don't think she has shown leadership on the Rye City council in dealing with some of the problems that Rye government has encountered. Namely the golf club scandal and the perception of a lack of openness in Rye. When Mamaroneck faced similar issues I fought to make the government processes more open by televising all land use meetings. While I was on the Board in Mamaroneck we passed perhaps the strongest ethics law in Westchester county.
What are the top three issues facing District 7 right now?
Keeping taxes low, but not just County taxes school and local taxes as well. The County needs to provide leadership on sharing services and eliminating duplication in local government. Flooding, but not just flood mitigation, we need to make sure that our first responders have all they need to assist residents when the next climate change storm occurs. Restoring faith that government is fair and works for our interests. To further that end I have proposed changing the County ethics law to prohibit accepting campaign contributions from businesses or unions with County contracts.
What is your position on the Sustainable Playland deal?
Do you want SPI to take over management of Playland? If so, why? If not, then what should be the future for Playland?
I believe Sustainable Playland's plan is an oxymoron, it isn't sustainable and it certainly isn't Playland. I believe the County should investigate having an outside vendor run the park who has experience in the business and who has private capital to invest. SPI does not meet that criteria. The plan that Parker/Astorino support has never had an independent planning analysis. If you were to put an addition on your home it would require more independent land use scrutiny then Sustainable Playland has received.
If elected, how do you feel you will represent the concerns of residents from outside of Mamaroneck and balance the concerns of all your constituents?
I have lived in the Sound Shore for 23 years so I am no stranger to the other communities on the area. I will work hard to meet with community resident and groups as often as possible. I have always served in an open and inclusive fashion. I return phone calls and emails promptly.
What are some of the accomplishments made while on Mamaroneck Board of Trustees of which you are most proud?
I am proud of revising the zoning laws to protect Mamaroneck from over development and passing laws to protect our coastline and keeping public access to the Sound. I am proud that because of my efforts land use board meetings in Mamaroneck have been televised since 2006. I am proud that I was instrumental in disentangling Mamaroneck from the lawsuits that were sullying our reputation and threatened to bankrupt our community.
There is often disagreement between Democrats and Republican legislators at the county level – how do you feel you could improve or handle partisan relations if elected?
We shouldn't be afraid of disagreements on issues of policy. Democrats have to be more persuasive in explaining their policy and not be intimidated by labels that the other side uses to demonize our point of view. I think that the core Democratic values are correct both from a policy stand point and from a moral perspective. But we must listen to Republicans respectfully and honestly consider their perspective and when we are wrong promptly admit it and enact which ever policy is most effective. Where I differ with the County Legislative Democrats is on the overuse of lawsuits to settle disagreements. There are other more effective, less divisive and cheaper ways to come to agreements.