Listen for a knock on your door this week. Election season starts in earnest this week, and each political party will start going door-to-door (yes, with some COVID modifications) to collect the voter signatures needed to place their candidates on the ballot.
It is the local political committees that organize all this behind the scenes, with folks called district leaders who are responsible for each of the 14 election districts across Rye.
We spoke with the heads of each political committee to give MyRye.com readers a look behind the curtain. This is real, grassroots block-by-block hyperlocal politics in action.
Today we continue with the head of the Rye Republicans. See our prior article on the head of the Rye City Democratic Committee.
Your Name & Title: Elaine DiCostanzo, Chair, Rye City Republican Committee
MyRye.com: What initially attracted you to politics?
DiCostanzo: I have always been interested in politics; I was a political science major, went to law school with a focus on international relations and then, as a young attorney in NYC, wrote speeches for local politicians.
Why are you a Republican?
DiCostanzo: I am a Republican because I see it as the political party that best adheres to the philosophy of classical liberalism. This ideology resonates with me, with its core tenets of economic and civil liberties and the Rule of Law. The Republican Party has become the most authentically populist, focused on respecting individuals and localized community efforts.
How long have you lived in Rye and what do you do professionally?
DiCostanzo: I have lived in Rye since 1997; I attended law school, then medical school and currently work at an investment bank.
How long have you been involved with the Rye City Republican Committee and how did you originally get involved?
DiCostanzo: I have been involved with the Committee since 2013; I originally got involved through contacts with my work on the Rye City Committee on Government Policy and then ran as a District Leader. The aspect I like best about the DL role is having the opportunity to go door to door and speak with residents about local political issues and their priorities for Rye.
What makes local politics different from county, state or national politics?
DiCostanzo: Local politics is different from county, state or national politics in that there is a more immediate need for consensus building and collaborative governance; you are working with your neighbors and fellow community members and it is important to remain respectful and keep an open mind to others’ perspectives.
Tell us about the candidates you are endorsing and why did we endorse::
DiCostanzo: Bill Henderson is an incredibly smart, experienced community leader who will add great value to the Rye City Council. He will bring his considerable experience to the existing team’s commitment to serving Rye with foresight and integrity.
Josh, Julie and Ben have a significant record of good municipal governance. They have, through smart and capable decision-making, steered our City through numerous challenges with strategic fiscal management and effective policy implementation.
Explain the role of a district leader, the number of election districts in Rye and how many Republican District Leaders there are across the city:
DiCostanzo: The role of a District Leader is to be a local advocate and representative for their political party for issues affecting their neighborhoods. They are duly elected members of that party, responsible for selecting candidates, including legislative and judicial, and executing the legal requirements for getting those candidates on the ballot. There are 14 election districts and two District Leaders per election district.
Who are the district leaders for the GOP in Rye?
District Leaders: we move into election season, adding new members, which will result in new District assignments for the neighborhoods. We try and make sure our District Leaders represent the neighborhoods they live in. Will keep you updated as we finalize.
Signature gathering starts March 2nd and lasts until March 25th. Explain what this process is, why we do this and how you expect it to be different because of Covid:
DiCostanzo: This process involves meeting the legal benchmark for the requirements for securing a candidate’s place on the ballot in New York State. This involves, in part, obtaining a requisite minimum number of signatures of registered voters in support of that candidate. Covid has prompted a process that is quite different than is typical: there are fewer signatures required and walking door to door with candidates has been more formalized with call-ahead appointments.
What are three issues Rye will need to keep prioritized over the next four years?
- Capital Plan—addressing infrastructure needs in a systematic fashion. This includes the Save the Sound settlement and its capital expenditure implications.
- Strategic/Master Plan-the land use, facilities and resources give Rye great promise for the future of our City but we need to convert vision to plan. This is a significant undertaking and will involve active participation over many months with both planning professionals and members of the public.
- Finances/Public Safety-the County, schools and City need to coordinate services, building projects and development to avoid wasteful/overlapping expenditures. An example is continued exploration of shared services throughout the Sound Shore for EMS and the Fire Department (but not the police department). This type of arrangement would facilitate public safety improvements from the perspectives of efficiency, coordination, delivery and cost.