MyRye.com asked each city council and mayoral candidate for their "last word" – what they'd each like to say the voters of Rye before each of you head to the polls this Tuesday, November 3rd. We'll be running these "last words" Saturday, Sunday, and some may run Monday.
This "last word" comes from "Team Otis":
Leadership for Rye
Like all municipalities, our city now faces unprecedented challenges: the desire to maintain quality services amid declining revenue, the need to attend to our aging infrastructure, and the urgency of controlling taxes. Effectively addressing these conflicting dynamics will take experience, balanced judgment, and an understanding of how Rye works.
Each of us has a long record of leadership in community activities and each of us has demonstrated an ability to work successfully with organizations and individuals to get things done. With two incumbents and two new faces, our ticket has shown that we possess the knowledge and experience Rye needs in these challenging times.
We began our campaign with a decision to send a positive message and to stress the importance of this experience and past volunteer service in Rye as valuable credentials for successful service on the City Council.
We are very pleased with the momentum our campaign has gained. We worked hard to win the Independence Party primary. The feedback from voters has been positive. We demonstrated our knowledge and expertise at every debate and campaign interview session.
This week the Journal News endorsed the only two incumbents in the race, Mayor Otis and Councilman Ball. This followed an hour-long joint interview with both tickets. The Journal News, in making their endorsements, were certainly not signing on to the central premise of the other ticket’s campaign that everything is wrong in Rye.
We also stressed a nonpartisan theme given the fact that our three Council candidates consist of one democrat, one republican, and one independent. They are running on a ticket led by our Mayor, one of the most respected and knowledgeable elected officials in Westchester. We are running on the belief that merit-based, nonpartisan decision-making results in better decisions than partisan bloc voting.
Our priorities are to maintain Rye’s strong financial standing, control taxes, and maintain quality services. We accurately documented the financial, tax, and debt profile of the City in contrast to broad misrepresentations of the opposing ticket.
In summary here: the City of Rye municipal government has one of the lowest property taxes in Westchester County, a coveted Moody’s Aaa bond rating, low debt levels, and represents only 16% of your total property tax bill. In response to elastic revenue loss because of the economy, the City reduced 2008 spending by almost $1 million, adopted a 2009 budget that was $1.4 million less than 2008 and cut an additional $800,000 in 2009. Continued discipline will require the wise judgment that our candidates offer.
In addition, Rye’s ability to secure outside funding has been a huge success story. Mayor Otis has led the effort to bring in over $20 million in public and private funding for Rye projects. In these tough economic times, we are in need of those skills and the Mayor’s unique knowledge on how government works at every level.
On many issues the opposing ticket proposes good ideas but neglects to tell you the City already does them. We have a flood plan, prioritize capital projects, review budget indicators throughout the year, achieve savings in collective bargaining, and already do many of the other “new ideas” the opposing ticket claims as their own.
In every debate and interview, many of which are available online, our candidates demonstrated superior knowledge of the issues, facts, and complexities of matters before the City. We hope voters will watch the LWV debates before making their decision. They can be found online at http://origin.peg.tv/pegtv_player?affiliate=T00371and on RCTV at:
City Council Candidates
10/29 – 7am, 11am
10/30 – 7am, 4pm
10/31 – 3am, 9:30am, and 3:30pm
Candidates for Mayor
10/29 – 7pm
10/30 – 8:30am, 1pm
10/31 – 5am, 7am, 1pm
11/1 – 2am
Since we are writing here for myrye, it is appropriate to raise the issue of how three of the opposing ticket’s staunchest supporters occupy your site with criticism of City litigation costs when those individuals, Messrs. Carroll, Chittenden, and Tartaglione, all have been involved in litigation brought against the City. They never seem to highlight their own self-interest. The opposing ticket, while working closely with these litigants, offers a campaign plank criticizing City litigation costs.
We believe the City should protect taxpayers by defending frivolous litigation claims and note that litigation costs are under budget for 2009. We have asked our opponents during debates which lawsuits against Rye they think the City should not defend. All municipalities are challenged by individuals seeking a litigation payday from taxpayers. We will protect the taxpayer.
We also have demonstrated a superior understanding of how to address the complicated issue of flood mitigation. Without investing in the engineering studies on flood mitigation and repair projects, we would never be able to win the millions of dollars in outside funds to pay for these projects.
Rye is one of only four communities to win county flood mitigation funding this year. Twelve communities applied. Our opponents criticize the consultant and litigation costs directly linked to winning funds and protecting Rye against the actions of neighboring communities that would increase flooding on Blind Brook or Beaver Swamp Brook. Which brook will our opponents decide against protecting?
Our campaign has been to countless community events, train stations, gone door to door, and shared our vision for Rye’s future through ads and mailings. We are ready for the challenges ahead and offer our understanding of Rye, proven experience as volunteers and leaders in the community, and success in our prior community service as the best credentials for the City Council.
(Editors Note: MyRye.com requested each candidate submit their own "Last Word" statement. Team Otis chose to submit a combined statement from all four candidates on their slate.)
If you missed them, read MyRye.com's profiles of city council candidates Andy Ball, Richard Filippi, Peter Jovanovich, Suzanna Keith, Myles Lavelle and Joe Murphy. And also read our profiles of mayoral candidates Doug French and Steve Otis.