Today we introduce you to Rye City council candidate Jason Mehler.
Publisher's Note: The returned set of questions and answers from Candidate Mehler does not bear much resemblance to the list of questions we sent him. Questions were left out, completely re-written and new ones were added. We considered not publishing this at all but decided in the end, better to share what was available.
What differentiates you from the other candidates?
I am running as an Independent Candidate for Rye City Council on the Independence line. I do not belong to any political party. I am not accepting any political contributions. I am funding my own campaign. No one suggested or asked me to run for the Rye City Council. I have no personal agenda. I am volunteering to run for this position. I owe no favors to any political party, party leaders or special interest groups. I am a true Independent! I am prepared to make the many important and necessary decisions from day one! I understand what is meant by a sense of urgency and I will do my best to exceed all of your expectations.
Anything else you want to add?
I am available to meet with anyone to discuss any issues. My cell phone number is (914) 943-6450. What in your experience and background prepares you for this job? I previously worked as a Corporate Controller, Accountant/Auditor and Tax Specialist. My extensive financial background and understanding of budgeting, employment issues, financial statement and cash flow analysis will be a great addition in helping the council with its essential task of fiscal accountability. I believe that my experience, coupled with my passion to keep Rye's local government strong, will help me bring new ideas and new solutions to the Rye City Council. I am a good listener. I am a quick learner. I love Rye and want it to be the best in every way. I pay attention to details and will listen to everyone's opinion. I am committed to serving our community with everyone's best interest.
Why are you running?
I want to be part of the process to "Make Rye Better". As a parent, homeowner, resident and someone that works in this great city, I want to assist in any way possible to making Rye the best place to live, visit, work and raise a family. I feel strongly that being part of a community means taking an active role in making it the best possible place to live. On a personal note – My wife, Carin works locally as a school teacher in Rye (fourth grade, Osborn School). As the parents of two young children that both currently attend Rye City Schools (Emily 11& Rachel 9) , a few of the primary reasons we were attracted to the City of Rye were the school system, community and proximity to the park and Long Island Sound.
(PHOTO: Mehler with County Exec Rob Astorino at the Rye – Harrison game.)
What will be your three most important priorities in office, when elected?
- Keeping Home Values High and Property Taxes Low will be my main concern during my first term on the Rye City Council. We must do more with less! Expenses continue to rise and we must think differently to balance and implement a new budget.
- Pedestrian Safety – safe sidewalks and crosswalks – with an emphasis on child safety issues.
- I support and have tremendous respect for the Rye Police Department/PBA, Fire Department, Public Work employees and all Rye City employees. We must urge the City Manager to negotiate a fair and amicable agreement with the Rye Police Association.
Considering the financial scandal at Rye Golf Club uncovered last year, one of the city councils main priorities next year will be making sure nothing of the sort ever happens again. How has the city been doing so far on this in terms of increasing oversight at all levels?
With the recent re-election of the golf club commission chair John Duffy and newly elected commission members Leon Sculti, who should be credited with bringing the Rye Golf Club scandal to light and Mack Cunningham, a former Rye City Council member, I fully support and believe the expanded commission will continue to implement new policies, procedures, internal controls and make the must needed changes to make sure nothing of this sort ever happens again.
What are your proposals and ideas for the golf club going forward?
I believe that more oversight and control should be given to the Rye Golf Club Commission. We should continue to have more workshops between the commission and city council and bring new ideas and changes to the club that will drive membership enrollment. We need to listen to the club members and get everyone involved. My family uses the pool all summer long and I appreciate this facility for what it offers to the community.
Considering City Manager Scott Pickup's role in signing the majority of the golf club purchase orders alleged to be fraudulent, as well as his role in the Rye TV controversy, there has been much speculation on whether he is still the right person for the job. What steps should be taken when the new council is elected to deal with the general loss of confidence of the city manager?
We need to review and evaluate the City Manager's performance in the past and see what can be done going forward to make the many necessary changes/improvements. It is extremely important that the new Mayor and Council members work closely together with the City Manager. I will be open to discussing all options with the new Mayor and Council members.
How do you feel the current administration has done in terms of holding the line on taxes? What ideas do you have in terms of taxpayer savings that have yet to be implemented?
Residents must understand that only a small portion of their property taxes go to running the city. There are many improvements that can be done. Keeping Home Values High and Property Taxes Low will be my main concern during my first term on the Rye City Council. We must do more with less! Expenses continue to rise and we must think differently. My extensive financial background and understanding of budgeting, employment issues, financial statement and cash flow analysis will be a great addition in helping the council with its essential task of fiscal accountability.
With word that William Connors is resigning as Police Commissioner in January, how should the city go about hiring a new commissioner? Should it be handled before the election?
I would like to see an interim commissioner. I think the next Mayor and Council should be part of the discussion for all decisions made including the selection of the search firm. Although the current council does not agree, I would like to wait until January before starting the search process.
The city has been plagued by infighting and diviseivness. How do you plan to avoid that?
My approach will be "Non Partisan" and I am looking forward to working with all members of the council. I am a good listener. I am a quick learner. I love Rye and want it to be the best in every way. I pay attention to details and will listen to everyone's opinion. I am committed to serving our community with everyone's best interest.
What are some of the city's infrastructure needs that you think require more attention?
We must continue to address flood mitigation issues and the shortage of parking spaces downtown. We also need to continue with programs to make sidewalks, crosswalks and roads safer for pedestrians. Also, the train station is in need of many structural improvements.
One thing the average voter doesn't know about you:
I played Varsity Football at New Rochelle High School with Rob Castagna, Athletic Director at the Rye City School District
[Position on Playland]
My position on Sustainable Playland Inc. (SPI) – The plan has many positive features but I am completely against the 95,000 sq ft field house and I DO NOT SUPPORT THE PLAN as it currently stands. I do not agree that having such a large structure adjacent to a residential neighborhood in Rye is beneficial in any way to the residents of Rye.
A Playland parking lot car space inventory was undertaken to assess the total lost spaces which will be removed if the (2) artificial regulation soccer fields and 95,000 sq. ft. Sports Field House are built.
The count was factored on Sustainable Playland's Field Zone Project orientation rendering.
The total number is 939 car parking (handicap and regular) spaces lost.
939 spaces exceeds Rye's Central Business district parking lot capacity.
Assume the average visiting car occupancy is (2) people 1878 people will be looking to park outside the Park's borders if the remaining large lot is at capacity.
Position of the Rye Police Association – I fully support the Rye Police Association/PBA. I believe the City Manager should negotiate an "amicable agreement" with the Police Association.
Will represent all residents of Rye
Strong Family Values
I currently serve on the Rye Town Park Advisory Committee and the Rye Recreation Commission.
I am fully committed to serving all of the people of Rye.
I would consider it a privilege and honor to serve on the Rye City Council.
Being on the Rye City Council will be my number one priority. I will make sure that I am well informed on all issues facing Rye, will pay attention to details and will participate in discussions and express my opinions when voting.
– Rye City resident since 2000
– Fulltime Realtor, Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, Rye, NY (10 years) – Licensed Associate Broker
– 2 Daughters (Emily 11 & Rachel 9) – both currently attend Rye City Schools
– My wife (Carin), is a 4th grade teacher at Osborn School
– Rye Town Park Advisory Committee – reappointed to a three year term (expires 1/1/2016)
– Rye Recreation Commission – appointed to a three year term (expires 1/1/2016)
A few of the primary reasons we were attracted to the City of Rye were the school system/district, community and proximity to Rye Town Park, Playland and the Long Island Sound. I am in the park every morning and most early evenings walking my dog (Ben) – 3 year old Pekapoo.
My business experience includes management, budgeting and financial planning. I believe that my experience, coupled with my passion to keep Rye's local government strong, will help me bring new ideas and new solutions to the Rye City Council in 2014.