Seven Minutes With Candidate Nancy Seligson

Democratic candidate Nancy Seligson may be running unopposed for Town of Mamaroneck Supervisor this November, but she’s still going to have some tough battles ahead of her.

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.

J.D. Oriani August 04, 2011 at 01:00 PM
Should be interesting to see if the Town of Mamaroneck Republican Party fields a candidate for the top spot in November!
LMP August 04, 2011 at 01:02 PM
Isn't she from Larchmont Village. Does this mean that she'll run services in the Town but not in the Village? Is this an article or an editorial? Is there really no choice when there is supposed to be an election in November?
J.D. Oriani August 04, 2011 at 01:10 PM
@LMP- Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. At the moment there is NOT a choice in November, Seligson is currently running unopposed. Thoughts?
Buddy August 04, 2011 at 01:24 PM
Interesting interview. Given that we are already into August, I don't see any other candidates coming forward in the next month to challenge. That said, I know we could do far far worse than Nancy.
mlloyd01 August 04, 2011 at 01:35 PM
Lucky to have a candidate who is ready, willing and able to be the supervisor of this Town. It's not easy to find someone qualified, and wiling, these days. Love the environmental focus. One way to reduce costs is in the utilities areas. Some new technology saves over 70% of the annual operating costs (e.g. bulbs). Capitalize the investment and save the operating expense in the current year. Replace old off-road vehicles with lighter, electric vehicles that can be charged by solar panels. These are some ways to help the environment AND work within the 2% cap. Confident the future is looking greener on the other side.
J.D. Oriani August 04, 2011 at 05:05 PM
@LMP- Sorry I missed your initial question in my first reply. If elected in November, Seligson will run services for the entire Town of Mam'k, which includes 1/2 of the Village of Mam'k, all of the Village of Larchmont, and all of the unincorporated areas of the town. Hope that clarifies - thanks again for reading & commenting.
J.D. Oriani August 04, 2011 at 05:07 PM
@Buddy- Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I'm glad you found the interview interesting. Stay tunes to Patch.com for the next interview in the series of Town of Mam'k candidates!
J.D. Oriani August 04, 2011 at 05:10 PM
@milloyd01- Thanks for commenting and sharing your own thoughts on ways to reduce the town's energy costs. It would appear that you are correct, there does seem to be a shortage of qualified candidates who are willing to step-up. Guess we'll see what November brings -- Stay tuned!
LMP August 04, 2011 at 05:13 PM
J.D. Oriani, thank you, but regarding your second response, heard that each of the Town of Mamaroneck and Village of Larchmont as well as the Village of Mamaroneck run separate Police, Fire, Infrastructure Maintenance, etc.departments, each serving their own separate populations; or is the Town controlling all of these?
JQP August 04, 2011 at 05:40 PM
http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Property-tax-cap-passage-signals-new-era-for-1439824.php "Court judgments, growth in a town or school district, and employee pension costs can allow taxes to go beyond the 2 percent limit." But: 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." Which one is it, do pension costs count toward the cap or not?
Stefani Kim August 04, 2011 at 06:29 PM
Hi JQP, Here are the exceptions from Cuomo's press release: This cap on property taxes includes safeguards to ensure delivery of critical services for New Yorkers. There will be limited exceptions to the cap, including: "Judgments or court orders arising out of tort actions that exceed 5 percent of the localities' levy. Certain growth in pension costs where the system's average rate increases by more than 2 percentage points from the previous year; the amount of contributions above the 2 percentage points will be excluded from the limit. Growth in tax levies due to economic development." Best, Stefani
mlloyd01 August 05, 2011 at 01:53 PM
Thanks to you J.D. for your article. Not sure if I am correct or not; I just feel that way and attribute the shortage to the rhetoric that has been unleashed over the past decade both nationally, state-wide and locally. Hopefully, our local community can navigate to a more conciliatory, respectful approach of disagreeing with others' opinions so that the energetic, intelligent candidates, like Nancy and Seth, don't feel as though they are walking into a thankless job by doing community service. Ironically, if we are to blame for the dearth of candidates, then we, too, are the solution. Let's see.
J.D. Oriani August 05, 2011 at 02:28 PM
@milloyd01- Great points, thanks for taking the time to comment. Not sure if you have had a chance to read this morning's interview with Seth Marcus (R) yet, also Abby Katz (D) is coming soon. The more residents we can get involved in our local government, the better! Spread the word :-)


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