Mamaroneck, the Native American name that translates as “the place where the sweet waters fall into the sea,” is the perfect place for Nancy Seligson, Democratic candidate for Town Supervisor, to call home. Nancy has been an elected Councilwoman for the Town of Mamaroneck since 2000, and a leader in Long Island Sound environmental advocacy for over 15 years.
As of now, Seligson is running unopposed for the Town Supervisor seat being vacated by Valerie O’Keeffe this November. She fell in love with Long Island Sound during her childhood on Long Island’s North Shore, and she is an avid sailor. Seligson is a proud member of the community she seeks to continue guiding towards a sustainable future.
Patch recently caught-up with Seligson following a at Harbor Island, and she was kind enough to answer a few of our questions. We now invite you to spend “seven minutes with candidate Nancy Seligson.”
Patch-1: If you were to meet with a new resident, completely unfamiliar with our local government, how would you describe the unique relationship between and among the local governments of the Town of Mamaroneck (which you’re campaign is a part of), and the Villages of Mamaroneck and Larchmont in 60 seconds or less?
Seligson: “Well, it’s actually not so easy to explain or describe, as I’m sure you have already experienced yourself. The Town of Mamaroneck provides [some] services to the two villages, half of the Village of Mamaroneck and the Village of Larchmont, but it provides all government services to the unincorporated Town of Mamaroneck. There is an overall general sense of community that we all share and we try to work together as much as possible, and try to communicate as openly as possible."
Patch-2: Speaking to the same new resident, how would you describe the duties and responsibilities of the position you are currently running for, Town Supervisor?
Seligson: “Town Supervisor is the chief elected official in the Town of Mamaroneck …a figurehead type of position… the chief communicator for the community, and responsible for working with the town administrators and of course running the entire town, setting policy for the town, and having the chief fiduciary responsibility for the town.”
Patch-3: What will it mean to the residents of Mamaroneck if Nancy Seligson is elected to the position of Town Supervisor in November?
Seligson: “They will have someone who is the head of the community who’s very interested in not only maintaining the wonderful level of services that we currently provide, but hopefully enhancing those and continuing to keep a very close look on the economics and finances of the community and also to try to educate and encourage people to improve their environmental stewardship of the community. I’d really like to see us be able to reduce our energy use and improve our environmental areas.”
Patch-4: Specifically, how will my family be impacted as a Mamaroneck homeowner?
Seligson: “As homeowners, well, you’ll have a friendly person in the town government that you can always approach and talk to. You’ll have somebody who is going to try to save money for the town, and provide some cost savings, and hopefully reduce our taxes the best we can. You’ll have someone who is looking out for the current time of the town, and for the future of the town. Specifically for a homeowner though, I’d like to encourage people to communicate with the town government if they have any particular issues in their home ownership and in the community.”
Patch-5: How do you think your previous experience, as Councilmember, will help you in your role as Town Supervisor?
Seligson: “Well, I’ve been a Councilwoman for 12 years. I’ve been intimately involved in the running of the town in that position, so I certainly know all the people involved and I know all the issues we are dealing with right now. I participated in every decision that was made in town all this time, so I have a lot of experience in doing so. It certainly provides the ideal background to become [Town] Supervisor."
Patch-5a: How might that experience be a negative thing, as opposed to somebody from outside the current local government?
Seligson: “I can’t really see it being a negative in any way. I think it would be very difficult to come into this position without having participated on the town board or in some very intimate way with the town government. So I think it really is only positive.”
Patch-6: What do you see as the single most critical issue facing the Town of Mamaroneck Board in the coming two years of the term for which you are running?
Seligson: “I definitely think that the budget is going to be the most critical issue going forward, and certainly with this …confirmed two percent cap imposed by the state, so its going to be a real challenge to be able to try to hold the town budget to that two percent and yet still continue to provide the services, the amount of services and the level of service, that we provide now to the residents."
Patch-6a: What is your realistic prognosis for this issue two years from now if you are elected to Town Supervisor?
Seligson: “I’m not sure to tell you the truth. We recently did a review of the proposed 2012 budget and tried to impose the two percent cap…and it was actually impossible to do that without digging deep into our reserves because some of the mandated increases are just simply higher than that. So I think that’s going to force us to try to get as creative as possible in some of the services we do provide and to really try to see if there is any changes we can make that will actually reduce our costs. Our fixed costs though are very difficult because they really are mandated outside of the town and there’s not much we can do about that. So as the fixed costs continue to rise, the only variable we really can work with are the variable costs, and that’s what affects our day-to-day-services. So I think we’ll be asking town residents as well in the next year, what they really value. Would they really like to see changes is services for the trade-off in a two percent cap, or do they value some of their services even more than that? So there’s going to have to be a lot of communication with the community."
Patch-6b: Can you give us a couple examples of these mandated fixed costs?
Seligson: “The hospitalization cost and pension costs that are associated with our employees are dictated by the state. We don’t have control over those, and those routinely increase more than two percent a year. Those are decided by the state legislature, influenced greatly by the union. We’ve had good communication with the union leaders in our town, and I think they have been open to or understanding of the situation we’re all in—because we are all in it together."
According to an article published by Governor Cuomo’s office on July 6, 2011 the two percent cap Seligson ominously refers to is the first in New York’s history. “Under the new law, property tax increases will be capped at two percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. Local communities and local voters could override the cap with a 60 percent vote on the budget for school boards or relevant legislative bodies.”
It would appear that the voters of the Town of Mamaroneck will have to make some tough choices at the polls in the coming months and years. Running unopposed as Seligson is however (at publication time), who to elect as our next Town Supervisor doesn’t seem to be one of those tough choices.