Meet Rye Council candidate Jana Seitz, up for election this fall on Tuesday, November 2nd. Seitz is running in the special election versus candidate Josh Nathan to fill the remaining two years of Pam Tarlow’s council seat. There are also four candidates – Bill Henderson, Julie Souza, Ben Stacks and Lisa Tannenbaum running in the election to fill full terms in three available council seats.
Your Name: Jana B. Seitz
Running for: Rye City Council
MyRye.com: Why are you running for Rye City Council?
Seitz: Serving on the Council would be a great opportunity to give back to the community which has given me and my family so much. I’ve spent a lot of time volunteering in different realms of Rye, and this would be a great role in which to apply all I’ve learned about our city.
Why are you running now?
Seitz: After spending the past 18 months tackling important national and global challenges, our city seems ready to focus on Rye-specific issues. Much business was put on hold during Covid. The vacuum of a two-year term created by the departure of a Council member opened up an opportunity to roll up my sleeves and get busy helping the Mayor and Council if elected.
What are the three biggest opportunities / challenges facing the City of Rye over the next 3-5 years?
Seitz: Challenges in need of discussion, research and action include:
- Protecting the character of Rye – from repairing our roads, to the current moratorium on new construction, the re-zoning of the Osborn, a proposed marijuana dispensary on Purchase Street and the proposed usage of the Avon property.
- Flood mitigation/water quality – from clearing blockages in Blind and Beaver Brooks and in Rye’s drainage systems, to improvements on Bowman Dam and the proposed dredging of Milton Harbor.
- Protecting Rye’s environment – from new turf at Nursery Field, to the incoming new management of Playland, our pilot compost program and the Save the Sound legal settlement compliance.
What are the three biggest areas for cost containment with the City of Rye over the next 3-5 years?
Seitz: Addressing and prioritizing upcoming capital expenditure projects with the least expense incurred, including:
- Disbrow Park – replacing Bldg 5, the salt shed and the truck fleet
- Gagliardo Park rehab
- Updating our courthouse and police station
- Infrastructure projects
Please Answer the following questions Yes or No:
|Question:||Seitz: Yes or No||Seitz:|
|Do you believe the City has done a responsible and an effective job of navigating the Coronavirus pandemic?||yes||Rye prepared and improvised to address something heretofore never seen by our generation
|Have you been fully vaccinated against COVID-19?||yes|
|Were you supportive of the various stages of Purchase Plaza during the pandemic?||yes|
|Would you be supportive of Purchase Plaza after the pandemic?||Undecided||Would love to, but the concerns of all Purchase Street business owners must be heard and considered|
|Do you support the raising of the Pride flag on City flagpoles this past June and every June?||yes||My only concern was the time and taxpayer money it took away from the business of Rye to make the decision, and the precedent it may have set|
|Do you believe there is an issue with racial bias and equality in our community and that the City has a role to play in addressing it?||yes||But I think Rye is vigilant in addressing and acting upon any perceived bias, aiming to assimilate different viewpoints|
|Rye City should have additional restrictions on residential development||maybe||Its timely to take a hard look at this as there is a current moratorium on new construction. The city has changed, as has the world, and we need to figure out the best way forward for the citizens of Rye.|
|Are you supportive of the Wainwright House working with Row America Rye?||I think this issue has already been resolved, but I applaud all joint efforts. We must be considerate of the neighbors down Peningo Point, as well as support our young rowers going forward.|
|Do you agree the loss of Wainwright House and its property as a public resource would be a significant detriment to the City?||yes||I feel certain a plan can be found to best suit current usage of this incredibly beautiful homestead.|
|Do you agree the closure of the Durland Scout Center on Milton Point in 2007, and its subsequent sale to a developer for private homes, was a real loss for the City?||yes||But that lot has sat empty, fenced off and foreboding since the Scout Center was torn down, and it was time for something to happen. There were many restrictions on usage as a Scout Center: no camping, curfew, etc. I believe the City had the opportunity to purchase the property in a regular sale. A city park would have been my personal dream solution, as there is so little public access to the Sound, but cost and impact on the neighborhood had to be taken into consideration.|
|Rye City is prepared for the next “100 year” flood||Undecided||The very definition of a “100-year flood” seems to have changed…we’ve had a few in a decade. We most definitely have work to do to meet the flooding issues facing the city. I’ve spent a great deal of time investigating potential solutions.|
|Leaf blowers are a health and quality of life nuisance and should be banned entirely from the City||no||I’m not in favor of an all-or-nothing solution. My concern is that a total ban would cut into the livelihood of many maintenance employees, but we must also be cognizant of the quality of life of Rye residents, many of whom are now working from home. And we must balance the aesthetics of a beautiful lawn with the noise nuisance. I feel certain we can figure out a schedule when it is allowed and when it is not.|
|Curbside food scrap recycling should be expanded across the City.||Undecided||It sounds like the pilot program has gone very well and should kick out some solid data on the answer of sustainability. I don’t know if the program makes sense from an overall perspective given that transport is costly and impacts the environment.
But I’d love to learn more.
|Rye City property taxes are too high||Yes||Our taxes are too high, especially given the small percentage which pertains to Rye City government. The Council’s focus should be to deliver as much value as we can for our portion of the tax bill.|
|Rye Playland will be in good hands with Standard Amusements||yes||I was appointed by the County to the Playland Advisory Committee in 2016 and have weathered through the various stages of this long process. SA appears to be the best vetted solution, but there are many Rye/SA challenges to address. We will share electricity, water, sewage, public transportation and borders. I’d love to help with the SA integration.|
|Rye Town Park should be controlled (or owned) by Rye City||no||I think it’s lovely that RTP is enjoyed by ALL the citizens of the Town of Rye, not just the City of Rye. I believe Russ Gold does a great job of making it “home away from home” for all.|
|Rye City needs to reduce its deer population by active management including sharp shooters or bow hunting||yes||The Deer Issue is connected to the Coyote Issue so definitely must be addressed. I was appointed to a Deer Management Committee years ago by the Council and found myself following deer trails through the woods at 5am many a morn with Dept of Environmental Conservation biologists. After much research, a perfect solution was still wanting. I would love to pick up where we left off.|
|Rye City parking downtown is a serious mess and has a negative impact on local business and residents enjoying downtown||no||Plentiful parking is a challenge in many a Westchester towns due to our increased population and car ownership, but with Uber and other driving services on the rise our dependence on cars is shifting again. Constructing parking garages and new lots isn’t the solution. There’s a lot to discuss, but I think we can figure it out.|
|Rye City paid meter parking downtown has a negative impact on local business and on residents enjoying downtown||no||I recognize our current meter system elicits different responses (love and hate). I would of course be open to discussing changes such as a resident parking pass, especially post-Covid as commuters return to their business and downtown usage evolves.|
|Rye City should be more pedestrian and bike friendly||yes||But a fair balance must be struck between property/business holders and safe lanes for pedestrians and bikes.|
In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests last year concerning stories about bias in our schools and community came out. Do you acknowledge these stories and believe we should actively address issues of bias? Yes, or No? If Yes, what role should the City have?
Seitz: I think Rye has most definitely addressed the issues of bias which permeated the nation’s conscience during the pandemic. We already had a system of non-profits and community groups in place to handle this before it hit with such magnitude. We weren’t just reactionary. We already operated from a position of inclusion and education about bias. Our churches, schools, library, Rye Youth Council, Rye ACT were at the ready. We are blessed with a caring, intelligent, informed, impassioned community.
Land use and the control of development has been raised as an issue in Rye, fueled by a variety of concerns including flood control and the development of flag lots. Should more be done to bring transparency and control to land use decisions in Rye? If so, what are three of the top recommendations you would make?
Seitz: Transparency should always be the goal of government, but one not always easily achieved. Issues are addressed regularly at Council Meetings, open to all and aired on Rye TV. We can all watch in real time or at our convenience at home, but maybe the Council could do a better job of sharing this access information.
Further on land use, what benchmarks could the City publish annually or semi-annually that could help residents understand the state of land use in the City?
Seitz: I think updating Rye’s Master Plan would achieve this.
What are the current plans for the former United Hospital site just over the Rye City line in Port Chester? And what should the City be doing to represent its interests?
Seitz: I’m familiar with the situation, but not with the finer points. The new plan for mixed-used development sounds like something both Rye and Port Chester could jointly embrace. I would love to learn all there is to know if elected and act to usher in the best plan.
The City’s Master Plan was written in 1985, over 35 years ago. Should the City update its Master Plan? If yes, describe the process, timeline, stakeholders, and a few of the issues and policies that might be addressed in this work.
Seitz: A Master Plan is a living document, not something you whip up in a month when you realize the last working draft is 35 years old. Yes, I agree it’s time for a written update, and I feel certain the Council is well aware of this. If elected, I’d throw myself into the process whole heartedly.
Tell us about you:
What is your day job?
Seitz: It differs daily. I am a mother and wife first and foremost. I write a monthly column for the Rye Record on local adventures and am currently completing a book on the same entitled “My Suburban Escapes.” I help run Paddle Adventure Camp at the Rye Nature Center all summer, taking teenagers hiking and kayaking. And I tend to the business of the Edith Read Wildlife Sanctuary.
If you could travel anywhere in the world (post pandemic!), where would you go and why, and who would you take with you?
Seitz: I would pretty much go anywhere anytime with anyone! My favorite thing to do is turn strangers into friends. But the first trip would be with my husband and children back to Scotland to re-trace the footsteps of our two stints living in North Berwick and visit our friends there.
What are you watching these days?
Seitz: I have trouble sitting still long enough to track anything longer than the evening news. But during the pandemic we certainly binge watched a few series. I probably enjoyed “Yellowstone” the most.
Where do you live in Rye and how many years have you been in the City?
Seitz: I moved to Rye from Austin with my new family in 2007. We rented in several different neighborhoods before settling in “Indian Village South”.
What are three of your favorite food takeout / delivery restaurants in or around Rye?
- Jerry’s is our staple
- China Garden
- Water Moon sushi and dumplings
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