Whether you vote on Election Day (Tuesday, November 7) or before, you will find four names on the ballot for the three open seats on the Rye City Council. However, there are actually only three candidates running for those three seats: Keith Cunningham, Jamie Jensen, and Josh Nathan.
A fourth candidate, Lori Fontanes, stopped campaigning in the spring when she decided to move to France. By that time, however, it was too late to keep her name off the ballot, according to state election laws. As a result, the three city council candidates are, effectively, unopposed.
In interviews, it was clear that all of the candidates would bring strong backgrounds, interests, and skills to the City Council. Although Cunningham is a registered Republican, while Jensen and Nathan are registered Democrats, all three have said they intend to work collegially together and with the other council members.
Nathan, a lawyer, is running as an incumbent, having been elected to the Council in December of 2021, following a special election to fill a vacancy. Each of the candidates put flood mitigation at the top of the list of their priorities, but Nathan has the longest experience in developing solutions for Rye in collaboration with its upstream neighbors.
Also, all of the candidates believe it is important to revise Rye’s Master Plan, which has not been updated since 1985. Nathan believes he has valuable experience with the complex process of comprehensive planning, gained as a former member and head of the School Board for three terms.
Overall, Nathan cited his broad knowledge of the key issues facing Rye as a longtime resident and from his work on the City Council (including as liaison to the Boat Basin, Library, Landmarks Committee, and Zoning Board). He cited his record, including commitment to transparency, good governance, and listening to the community at large, while addressing challenges and opportunities in a fiscally responsible manner.
Jensen has spent much of her nearly 13 years in Rye volunteering in support of Rye City Schools, Rye Town Park and other community organizations. Above all, she believes city government needs to serve the whole community.
Jensen has long worked in the nonprofit sector, currently as the principal of a consulting firm and, previously as an executive for the Rockefeller Foundation. She has recently been named board chairman the Open Door Foundation, which funds family medical centers in Port Chester and other communities.
As a Councilmember, Jensen would use her talents in bringing people together to find workable solutions. She is used to doing the hard work to get the right result and emphasized that, “After a particularly divisive year for our City Council, I think, now more than ever, I have just the right energy, commitment, and temperament for the role.”
Cunningham is a retired partner of a specialized securities firm, who has lived in Rye with his family for more than ten years and is a Rye Arts Center board member. His background in finance and complicated negotiations have, he believes, qualified him well for achieving collegial decisions with other Council members. His mantra is: “Doing your best for the public, which includes engaging in civil and respectful discourse, listening to others, and respecting and considering their views.”
He believes that one of the most important roles of city government is keeping taxes low through prudently managing the city finances. But he recognizes Rye needs many capital improvement projects, including renovations to the Courthouse, City Hall, and DPW facilities, in addition to flood mitigation. Like his fellow candidates, Cunningham expects to bring leadership in prioritizing the most critical projects through comprehensive planning.
One of his principal concerns is the spillover effect on Rye of the current building boom in Port Chester, especially at the former United Hospital property, on the city’s border. Beyond the concerns about traffic flows and parking and other impacts on downtown (both pros and cons) are the effects on Rye Town Park and elsewhere in Rye.