At Monday night's Rye City Council candidate debate held at The Osborn, all six candidates seems in violet agreement that as it relates to the city budget "everything is on the table". The evening was fairly subdued except during closing statements when sitting Councilman Joe Sack took a swipe at candidate Josh Nathan saying taxes went up during his watch on the school board. Nathan defended his record, saying in fact Rye had the lowest tax rate increase in Westchester County during his school board tenure.
The evening was produced by the Civics Committee at The Osborn, who produced a series of thoughtful questions that were pit to the candidates. Rye TV taped the event, so if you missed it be sure and try to catch a replay.
In the opening statements, here are a few points the candidates made about themselves:
Josh Nathan (D)
- Spoke about meeting pressing needs
- Flood mitigation as the #1 infrastructure need
- Open, transparent government
Paula Gamache (D)
- Deputy Mayor
- 20 years in Rye
- "We have kept the city steady all these years"
Catherine Parker (D)
- Came to Rye in 1996, operates Parker's (travel store)
- "In the last two years you have seen some improvements in pedestrian safety downtown."
Laura Brett (R)
- a "Rye advocate" and attorney
- President of the Board of the Rte Historical Society
- We are "very fortunate to have six experienced candidates running for council."
Joe Sack (R)
- "One of the most important audiences in Rye" (speaking about the audience at The Osborn)
- "A very strong record when it comes to fiscal responsibility"
Rafael Elias-Linero (R)
- "16 years of experience in the banking industry and 10 years as a civil engineer."
Some of the Questions and Highlighted Answers:
Question about reducing costs such as garbage collection:
- Joe Sack said it's not just about doing more with less, but now is about"doing less with less" and highlighted when he encouraged the city to sell its old street signs.
- Rafael Elias-Linero spoke about reducing contractual costs (17% of budget) and material costs (13% of budget).
- Laura Brett spoke about partnerships with non-profits
- Paula Gamache spoke about shared services with safety and recreation
- Catherine Parker said our garbage trucks are too small to collect trash only once per week.
- Josh Nathan warned "if you keep cutting you cut into the bone" and spoke about his Board of Education expertise with collective bargaining.
Question about Rye Town Park and Rye City's relative lack of influence over its governance.
- Catherine Parker said signs in Rye Town Park prohibit ball playing, picnicking and… "it goes on and says 'no fun'".
- Many spoke about an opportunity to gain more control if the Town of Rye is dissolved.
- Joe Sack said theRye Town Park Advisory Committee – a citizens group – is "a success story"
Qustion about flooding:
- Joe Sack said "there have to be solutions big and small".
- Catherine Parker said "if you have one arguement for county government, its flood control".
Quesion about Playland
- Joe Sack reminded the audience Rye bears a small percentage of Playland's cost but "we bear 100% of quality of life impacts". He said he favors the Sustainable Playland plan proposal – "that's the one we should try to push for from the Rye perspective."
Question about shared services:
- Rafael Elias-Linero suggested we consolidate coastal protection / marine police.
- Catherine Parker suggested the city rent 1037 Boston Post Road to the Rye City School District
- Josh Nathan said he had a lot of experience on the issue with his time on the school board and mentioned plowing, purchasing and use of buildings as possble shared service areas.