MyRye.com has invited all city council candidates to complete a Q&A for our readers this week. The election is next Tuesday, November 8, 2011. Today we introduce you to candidate and sitting councilperson Paula Gamache:
What are the three most important issues for Rye in 2012?
Background: I have been a City Council member since January 2008 and have worked on three city budgets. In early 2009, Mayor Otis appointed me to the Recession Planning Task Force to work with city staff on ways to reduce spending while maintaining services. The city manager’s re-set budget came out of this process.
There are many more than three important issues for Rye in 2012. The overarching issue is fiscal responsibility in setting the adopted 2012 budget, which the council will do between Nov. 9 and Dec. 21. The past couple of years have been most challenging as the council has worked to keep the tax rate increase as low as possible while maintaining services that residents want and expect. We are now in a 2% tax cap environment, which we would have met in the past two years. I can’t say what the financial challenges will be for 2012 until the city manager presents the proposed budget on Nov. 9. I expect additional challenges and difficult decisions ahead.
Most all of the important issues are affected by the city’s ability to provide funding. Delivery of quality services, flood mitigation on a community-wide scope, infrastructure maintenance and improvement, pedestrian and traffic safety, funding of the Rye Free Reading Room, and the disposition of 1037 Boston Post Road which will return funds to the city to be redeployed are some examples.
Outside of that, any changes to Rye Playland and Rye Town Park based on proposals by their governing bodies will have a direct impact on Rye City and the neighborhoods near those parks. We need to stay on top of this.
What current issue in Rye gets more than its fair share of attention?
There are many issues that get attention, and deservedly so. One issue that gets more than its fair share of attention is Hen Island — the agenda of a disgruntled shareholder who is not a Rye resident, cloaked in a veil of purported concern for the environment, has had more than enough air time.
Which of the current Rye Playland alternatives do you favor?
As a member of the City Council, I don’t believe it is appropriate to state a preference, as the county, not the city, has the ultimate authority to decide what happens to Playland, and in any case, the financial information was redacted, so there’s no way to know which, if any, of the plans advanced for further review are financially viable. A majority of the council did vote to issue a resolution defining a vision for any changes to Playland. I will note that Councilman Sack did not support the resolution; I did support it. The basic principles of the resolution are: insuring and enhancing public use and access to open space, the Long Island Sound and facilities; sensitivity to environmental considerations and sustainability; respect for historic landmarks; a financially responsible and sustainable plan; a plan that complies with existing Rye ordinances.
Beyond efficiencies through shared services, cooperation with non-profits or other initiatives, should Rye City consider reductions in various service levels to reduce expenditures?
There would be a dialogue with the public in the event that significant reductions to service levels are contemplated. Everything must be on the table, given trends and constraints, and I expect the preference is to continue to work at streamlining operations.
How did you come to run for Rye City Council?
I was encouraged to run for re-election by a number of people, both Republicans and Democrats, who think I contribute positively to the governance process. As you may know, our Republican Mayor French appointed me, the lone Democrat on the council, Deputy Mayor at the beginning of 2011, in recognition of my nonpartisan approach to governance, and because he values my thoughts and opinions. I am a team player. Working cooperatively to build consensus with other council members is how the council gets the job done for Rye residents. Grandstanding for sound bites is counterproductive, and we have too many important issues to deal with to waste a council seat on anyone who is divisive.
What Rye citizen (non-elected official, non-city employee) do you hold as a role model for the rest of us vis-à-vis their contribution to the city and its social fabric?
There are many people in Rye who volunteer their services on boards, commissions, and committees. We couldn’t operate the city the way we do without them. I’m the council liaison to the Rye City Finance Committee and to the Rye Free Reading Room, and I am most impressed with the caliber of the people who serve. My husband is a member of the Zoning Board. I have friends who volunteer on various boards, commissions, and committees. I’d say that any of these dedicated Rye residents could be a role model for others in the community..
Where do you live in Rye?
I live at 14 Lake Road in the Greenhaven neighborhood. I’m a longtime member of the District One Committee, a neighborhood group representing Greenhaven, The Preserve, and Hannan Place.
How long have you lived in Rye – since what year?
I moved to Rye in July of 1992, so over 19 years as a Rye resident
What’s your day job?
I work on the Derivatives Unwind Team of the Lehman Brothers estate. My job is to negotiate settlements with Lehman derivatives counterparties, the need for which arose after the September 15, 2008 bankruptcy filing by Lehman Brothers Holdings..
If your co-workers (from your day job) were to describe you in a single word, what word would they use?
As a young person, what was your first paid job?
As a young teenager, I organized an all-girl snow-shoveling band in my suburban neighborhood; also baby-sitting.
Tell us about your family.
My husband, Serge Nivelle, owns a commercial photography business as well as a high-end rental studio http://www.tribecaskyline.com. Serge is a member of the Rye City Zoning Board of Appeals, president of the Brevoort, Lake, Shore Association, and an executive committee member of The New Group, an off-Broadway theater company. Our 30-year-old son, Alex Nivelle, works in private equity. He is a graduate of Rye Country Day School, Princeton University, and Wharton Business School. Alex is engaged to Hayley Urkevich, a Kansas State University and University of Pennsylvania Law School graduate, who is an associate at Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett.
What’s your favorite Rye area restaurant for “date night” with your partner?
Our favorite place to dine out is Shenorock Shore Club. It’s our home-away-from-home place to have dinner with each other and with friends. For special occasions, we love the menu and atmosphere at La Panetiere.
What’s your favorite Rye area restaurant for take-out or delivery when you are having dinner at home with your family?
We’re not much for take-out. Serge is an excellent cook, as are our son Alex and his fiancee Hayley, so there’s lots of cooking in the 14 Lake Road kitchen when family gets together. Truffle dinner coming up in November.
Where might we find you on a Sunday morning?
On a Sunday morning, one might find me working on my hobby, crossword puzzle construction, as I have little time to do that during the week, given my full-time job and city council responsibilities. On a Sunday afternoon, one might find me in Pleasantville working with Will Shortz on New York Times crossword business.
What is your political affiliation?
Registered Democrat who is not a fan of partisan politics
Your favorite major league baseball team: New York Yankees
Your Facebook page: Personal Facebook page is Paula Gamache; Campaign Facebook page is Ticket of Experience
Your twitter call: None
Your campaign web site: http://www.ticketofexperience.com/