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What’s been the reaction of Rye residents when campaign mailers arrive, as they have at a dizzying pace in this off-Presidential election year? Close reading at first, straight to recycling as we edge closer to Election Day November 7.

It’s not that voters aren’t all fired up about the contests — County Executive Rob Astorino being challenged by one of Rye’s own, George Latimer; Mamaroneck Mayor Norm Rosenblum trying to unseat Rye’s Catherine Parker on the County Board of Legislators; and the Democratic slate of Josh Cohn, Sara Goddard, Julie Souza, and Ben Stacks, all of whom are running for the City Council for the first time, waging a vigorous campaign against incumbent Mayor Joe Sack and Councilman Terry McCartney, who are running with Susan Watson and Elizabeth Parks.

The trouble is that in many cases, the battle lines aren’t clearly drawn. Far too much innuendo, and, in a number of cases, inaccuracies and falsehoods have voters scratching their heads or running to the windows and shouting, “I’m angry, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

In recent weeks, the County Executive race has become downright ugly. Most voters don’t want Astorino to resign, as the Latimer campaign has suggested, nor do they want to read more about Latimer’s unpaid parking tickets.

Mayor Sack and Councilman McCartney have been making use of the City of Rye email system to send “important messages” and “updates,” the first of which violates a decades’-long City policy during election campaigns. In previous administrations, the messages came from the office of the City Manager.

Meanwhile, Mayor Sack asked the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee to determine whether an ad run in a local newspaper (not The Rye Record) was fair and the Committee deemed it unfair on the grounds that, “moving the DPW for a staggering $50 million” was not yet a “plan,” and those 64 mini-cell towers would be installed “in the right-of-way, not on resident’s front lawns.”

In the final days leading up to the Election, voters are struggling to remember who threw the first grenade and what the candidates stand for, so we asked a number of them and then went straight to the televised debates and, after that, the campaign websites.

The Rye, Rye Brook & Port Chester League of Women Voters invites residents to a Candidates’ Forum at which they will meet and listen to County Legislator Catherine Parker and former Mamaroneck Mayor Norman Rosenblum as they debate the issues of import within District 7.

The forum is set for Tuesday, October 17 at 7 p.m. at the Rye Middle School Multipurpose Room.

In follow-up interviews with both County Executive Rob Astorino and State Senator George Latimer, his challenger, we asked them what they stood for and the biggest reason residents should vote for them on November 7.

Rye residents probably don’t need a reminder that, over the years, Latimer was responsible for moving forward the installation of a sluice

By Jamie Jensen

More than 50 Rye residents and civic leaders gathered in City Hall the night of September 26 for the first of three public meetings to gather input for the City’s Comprehensive Master Plan.

A master plan is the result of an extensive public planning process that is meant to act as a reference point for land-use policy-making moving forward. It traditionally includes a close look at community resources and public needs for transportation, recreation and housing. However, given the last decade’s super storms — Irene and Sandy — the Rye City Comprehensive Master Plan will also highlight public discussion of flood mitigation and coastal resiliency.

Master plans are usually completed every five to ten years. Rye City’s last official one was completed in 1985, more than 30 years ago. Sporadically, over the last ten years, there have been pieces of a plan completed including: a Capital Improvements Plan (2017), an Attic Regulation Workshop (2013), A City Planning and Streetscape Plan (2009), a Central Business District Plan (2007) and a Hazard Mitigation Plan (2007). The 2018 Comprehensive Master Plan, while not a zoning blueprint, will guide official decisions regarding all future growth and development in Rye.

After a brief presentation from BFJ Consulting, the firm hired to manage the process, community members gathered at four stations to share ideas and concerns. Armed with markers, stickers, and their voices, residents were guided by the following questions:

<What is your vision for Rye?

What should we preserve?

How should we grow?

What should we provide?>

By Gretchen Althoff Snyder

Pullquote: One vote has the power to set the direction of the future.

While many Rye residents are fully engaged in the current Crown Castle and Thruway property/DPW debates, our town has a long history when it comes to hot-button issues during local elections. Issues relating to safety, education, development, and quality of life resonate with voters year after year, often unrelated to political party affiliation. 

What are some of the issues that surrounded elections in year’s past?

Doug French, who served as Rye’s Mayor from 2010 to 2013, recalls several contentious issues from his 2009 campaign relating to taxes and government spending, infrastructure and road repair, flooding, litigation, affordable housing, and pedestrian safety. The one that sticks out in his mind is the purchase of the former Lester’s property at 1037 Boston Post Road.

The property (most recently Mrs. Greene’s) was purchased by the City in 2006 for $6.2 million as a site for a new police headquarters and municipal court. However, due to the projected $25 million cost of the project, plus the sharp downturn in the real estate market in 2008, the City had to abandon its plans and subsequently leased the property to Lester’s. At the time French was running for Mayor, “the City had a $5 million IOU on 1037 Boston Post Road and crumbling infrastructure (among other issues) . . . and residents were pushing for resolution”. In 2013, French’s last year in office, the City finally sold the property for $5.6 million and the money was put back into the General Fund for desperately needed infrastructure and road repairs.

Arthur Stampleman served on the City Council from 1994 to 1995, and again from 1998 to 2001. When he ran for re-election in 2001, one of the contentious campaign issues was whether the City should exchange property at the town dock on Stuyvesant Avenue for adjacent property owned by American Yacht Club.

Race to the Top

By Robin Jovanovich and Tom McDermott

If you’re challenging a seasoned and successful professional like Rob Astorino, who is running this fall for a third term as Westchester County Executive, you have to be prepared for a good fight. State Senator George Latimer has come out swinging.

In separate interviews with the Republican incumbent at his office and his Democratic challenger, in our office, the conversation ranged from the proposed public/private County Airport partnership to the HUD affordable housing settlement to Playland