Meet Catherine Parker, candidate for Westchester County Legislator, District 7, up for election on Tuesday, November 7th. Parker is the incumbent, running against challenger Katie Manger. District 7 covers Mamaroneck, Rye, Larchmont, part of New Rochelle, part of Harrison.
We will be running an interview with Manger separately.
Your Name: Catherine Parker
Running for: Westchester County Legislator, District 7
MyRye.com: Why are you running for county legislator?
Parker: In my sixteen years serving Rye as either a Rye councilmember or County Legislator I can offer my institutional knowledge to help with challenges facing our community. I have also had a very successful tenure at the Board of Legislators creating policy for Westchester that has made Westchester a leader for good governance in New York.
Why are you running for county legislator now?
Parker: We have term limits at the Board of Legislators, and I am running for my sixth and final term. As an aside, don’t you agree all levels of government should have term limits?
What is your party affiliation?
Parker: I am a Democrat. I am running on both the Democratic line and the Working Families Party line.
What are the three biggest opportunities / challenges being managed at the Westchester County government level that directly impact the City of Rye over the next 3-5 years?
- The county’s sharing of sales tax revenue with both Rye and Rye School District – Not only has the county cut property tax for the last four years, We have shared 20% with municipalities and 10% with the school districts. That has added up to significantly offset the other portions of your property tax.
- There is money for flood mitigation projects if Rye only asks! Last week we approved over $6.2 million dollars for projects around the county. These had previously been approved by the county’s Storm Water Advisory Board of which I am a member.
- Rye can join the county’s food scrap program – Westchester is saving municipalities significant money by our new(ish) food scrap program and facility in Cortlandt. We have made it cheaper for trucked food waste than for regular waste.
What is new about these opportunities / challenges since the last election cycle?
Parker: These are not new opportunities for our old challenges of lowering taxes, flooding, and managing waste, but it bears repeating!
What are the three flood mitigation measures the Westchester County government should undertake with the greatest cost/benefit to the City of Rye?
Parker: Westchester can only control flooding on its own property. New York State law, called Home Rule, gives municipalities jurisdiction over what is within their borders. How we can help is with splitting the local costs of a flood mitigation project and advocating on Rye’s behalf for joint solutions.
- Purchase College detention pond – Ramboll listed this as a high priority
- 50/50 cost share of Rye only projects
- Playland parking lot – With the addition of bioswales and rain gardens we should be able to keep more water from running off. The parking lot will be the last of our capital infrastructure projects as laid out in the management agreement.
What are the three biggest areas for cost containment with Westchester County government over the next 3-5 years, and how would this impact the City of Rye?
Parker: We have been very successful at doing more with less property tax revenue. Your question assumes the reader knows what the county does and provides as a shared service. The impact is really what if the City of Rye had to do these things on their own:
- Provide a health department
- House and staff a jail
- Provide a family court
I could go on because the list of services is long – police academy, fire academy, medicaid and social services, mental health services, early childhood intervention for learning disabilities, county clerk’s office for real estate transactions, consumer protection….I hope you see my point.
Please Answer the following questions Yes or No:
|Issue||Yes or No||one sentence explanation|
|Rye City is prepared for the next “100 year” flood.||No||Did you know what was a 100 year storm a few years ago is now a 77 year storm? Rye is still not ready for a 77 year storm.|
|Additional restrictions on development will help with flood mitigation.||It depends.||One thing is for sure – doing things as they’ve been done for the last thirty years isn’t helping.|
|Leaf blowers should be regulated at a local and / or county level to address quality of life and pollution related issues.||I think leaf blowers should be regulated at the municipality level. Rye police work for the City of Rye and are tasked with enforcement. It makes it a much tighter system by keeping it local.|
|Rye Playland will be in good hands with Standard Amusements.||Maybe||Only time will tell.|
|The current roads in Rye that are maintained by the County are acceptable.||Well, given the work that we are currently doing on Midland Avenue, and the condition it is in today it’s hard to say it’s acceptable. That being said, the County has caught up on a tremendous backlog of road repair that the current administration inherited from the prior. Drive down Park Ave, Theo. Fremd Ave, and Playland Parkway and you can see all the work that has been done.|
|Westchester County is in a position to assist Rye City to reduce its deer population by active management that might include sharp shooters or bow hunting||That is a decision for the City Council to make with the help of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and residents. We do have a program in place in the northern part of the county that is less populated with people than the area south of 287.|
What statistics, data and best practices does the County maintain that can assist local villages, towns and cities such as Rye with policy making and overall good governance?
- If ever Rye is interested in adding more affordable housing, the statistics shared by the county Planning Dept. with each municipality can help determine policy.
- The County has a Planning Board that is advisory and eager to help communities evaluate comprehensive, or master plans.
- Rye should join our consortium for Community Development Block Grants as we had in the past. Working together, Rye might be able to get federal dollars passed through the county for nonprofit partners with capital needs.
Are there areas where the County could improve in this area and thereby assist localities such as Rye?
Parker: I would like to see the Board of Elections add an early voting polling station in Rye.
Tell us about you:
How would your friends and family describe you in one word?
|Select from:||Your Pick:|
|Coke or Pepsi?||Sparkling water|
|Regular or diet?||Regular Sparkling water|
|Action movie or rom com?||Barbenheimer!|
|Cook, order in or eat out?||Cook – I’m pretty good in the kitchen and enjoy cooking when I have the time.|
|Dog, cat or no pet?||Proud dog and cat mom|
|Balsamic vinaigrette or ranch?||I am not a ranch fan|
|Ruffles Original, Lay’s Barbeque or Funyuns?||Not much of a potato chip person either, but for snack food cheese and crackers are my go to|
|Still, sparkling or tap?||Tap water which after a time in my Brita filter goes into my Soda Stream.|
What is the kindest thing someone has ever done for you?
Parker: I am fortunate in how many people have shown me kindness and generosity at every turn. I try to pay it forward too. We live in a community where people really show they care so to pick just one instance is difficult, but after Parkers had flooded there were customers that stopped by to see what they could do. That has always struck me as fairly remarkable.
What is your day job?
Parker: Being County Legislator! And it’s my night job too. In other words, it is not 9-5, Monday-Friday. Some weeks it feels like every day is Monday.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why, and who would you take with you?
Parker: Last summer, I missed out on going to Iceland with my husband and son because I was running for Congress (story for another day). It is high on my bucket list, but for sure I am not taking my husband and son!
What is your favorite streaming / TV series ever?
Parker: Right now I am watching Lupin, season 3. Best TV series ever? Game of Thrones of course. It’s like a medieval West Wing with dragons!
What is your favorite movie?
Parker: So many to choose from! The Graduate, Out of Africa, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Raiders of the Lost Ark – C’mon don’t make me pick one!
Where do you live in Rye and how many years have you lived in the City?
Parker: I live on Milton Road along the brook. If you like Halloween, you’ll love my house!
What affiliations do you have with organizations in Rye?
Rye Arts Center – Current Advisory Board (previously served on the board as Officer (1999-2014)
Rye Historical Society – Knapp House Advisory Board
Rye Lions Club – Co-President
Rye Chamber of Commerce – Past President
Rye, Rye Brook, Portchester League of Women Voters – Past President
Rye Presbyterian Church
What are three of your favorite food takeout / delivery restaurants in Westchester County’s 7th legislative district?
- Sal’s Pizzeria (Mamaroneck)
- Mr. Chen’s (Mamaroneck)
- Coriander Modern Indian (Larchmont)
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Parker: As a history buff, I really enjoy genealogy. I also like too many New York Times puzzles -Wordle, Connections, Sudoku, and of course the crossword!
Catherine Parker’s bio (provided by candidate):
Legislator Catherine Parker has been representing Rye, Mamaroneck, Larchmont, and parts of New Rochelle and Harrison for the last ten years. She first won both a primary and general election in 2013, won contested general elections in 2015 and 2017, and was reelected again in 2019 and 2021.
Catherine Parker has had a long record in Rye as a leader in the community, as a businesswoman (Catherine owned Parkers, a travel and lifestyle store on Purchase St. for 22 years which was included many times in Westchester Magazine’s Best Of edition) and as a reliable community volunteer. She helped restart organizations like the Rye Chamber of Commerce and the local League of Women Voters. Parker has served as an officer of many civic organizations including the Rye Lions Club where she is currently Co-President. She has also served as a class mom and a Sunday school teacher. Parker credits her mother as instilling in her the value of giving back to the community.
In 2007, Catherine Parker was first elected to Rye City Council, and served for six years, gaining expertise in local government, and seeing how Westchester County interacts and administers many programs with federal and state dollars that help our community. That same year, her store Parkers experienced two major floods as did many homes of residents and institutions. Rye’s challenge with flooding has shaped much of the work she has done as an elected official, from the construction of the Bowman Ave sluice gate, to passing stormwater reconnaissance plans for all the watersheds in Westchester, to splitting the local share for Mamaroneck’s Army Corps of Engineers project, to funding the living shoreline project to stop erosion at Edith Read Sanctuary. Catherine also recognizes that science on climate change shows us that the longer we don’t face the music and wean ourselves off fossil fuels the longer we will be paying a very high price to combat the water challenges that is a biproduct of climate change. In 2015, Catherine led the creation of the position of Energy Director and Office of Sustainability for Westchester.
Catherine Parker’s record as a Legislator has been notable for more than just environmental accomplishments. She came into office focused on bringing the good fiscal municipal management that she had learned on the Rye City Council to Westchester. She was shocked by how bad things were being run. Spending was exceeding revenues. Reserve funds were being spent to pay for operating expenses and were dwindling to levels that were causing the credit rating agencies to take note. Residents also took note, and in 2017, an election brought much needed change. Since 2018, the Board of Legislators with County Executive George Latimer has cut the property tax levy four times to bring it to its lowest level since 2008, and our reserve fund is back to a healthy level.
When Catherine Parker is not working or volunteering, she is spending time with her husband, Licensed Massage Therapist, David Walker and their two kids, Julia (age 22 and an IBMer) and Aidan (age 15 at Rye High School). Perhaps the best fun fact about Catherine is that she won $50,000 on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Catherine graduated from Providence College with a B.A. in American Studies and has been a fan of Big East basketball ever since. Go Friars!