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Incumbent Susan Siegel Still in Race for Town Supervisor

Susan Siegel announces she will continue to run for Town Supervisor along the Yorktown Better Government Party Line

Despite being , incumbent announced on Friday at her home on Granite Springs Road that she will continue her run for re-election.

Siegel said she will run on the Conservative Party line and as a third party candidate for the Better Government Party line.

"The supervisor election is not over," she said. "Approximately 935 votes were cast for somebody else, but we haven’t heard from over 8,000 other voters. They have yet to cast their ballot."

Now running against former town supervisor Don Peters (D) and Michael Grace (R), Siegel said she thinks most people in Yorktown "vote for the person, not the party."

"It’s Mr. Grace who didn’t accept the verdict of the town committee, he is the one that split the party, not me," Siegel said when asked if this would split the Republican vote.

Siegel said she intends to win the election and beat both Peters and Grace based of her record. She cited implementing financial reforms that have cut expenses by more than $800,000 and generated more than $800,000 in new town revenue as some of her accomplishments, including overseeing the collection of more than $2 million in back taxes,

"I’ve finally done something about the senior center," she said. "We’re doing fire inspections of our commercial establishments to make sure they’re safe. Our public water supply is once again in the hands of a qualified water distribution professional. These are all important changes I’ve made since taking office."

Don Peters said he was aware that Siegel was going to run on a third party line after the Primary results were announced on Tuesday.

"That’s the democratic way," he said. "I’ve been working hard, concentrating on my campaign and trying to get support… I’ve been running like I’m behind."

Michael Grace said he feels Siegel took a "deaf ear" to the primary results.

"I think her leadership style and her legislative agenda don’t resonate with her constituents," Grace said. "We won the primary by 60 percent to her 40 percent. A resounding defeat, a two to one rejection of her leadership by her base. So I don’t understand why she thinks she will fair better outside."

After her speech during a question and answer session, Siegel said she has "no confidence that either candidate can do the job that [she knows] has to be done."

"Going forward my campaign will be simple and straight forward," Siegel said. "I’ll be campaigning on my record of accomplishments and my very specific plans for the next two years. There is more money to be saved by introducing better management systems."

Here is a statement entirely written by Siegel, which she released to the media after her press conference:

An election isn’t decided by 935 votes. Certainly not when over 8,600 voters cast ballots for Supervisor in 2009. 

The 2011 election for Yorktown Town Supervisor is far from over. Beginning this weekend, and as my duties in Town Hall permit, I will be out knocking on doors, speaking to voters, answering questions about my record and where I stand on issues, and hearing what’s on residents’ minds.

As the only truly independent candidate on the November ballot, I’ll be running on the Yorktown Better Government Party line. 

Of course I was disappointed to have lost the Republican line Tuesday night. I’ve put in long hours for the past 20 months trying to set things right in Yorktown. I’m proud of my record. I’ve implemented financial reforms that have cut expenses by over $800,000 and generated over $800,000 in new town revenue . I’ve overseen the collection of over $2 million in back taxes, some dating back to 1995. I’ve finally done something about the senior center. We’re doing fire inspections of our commercial establishments to make sure they’re safe. Our public water supply is once again in the hands of a qualified water distribution professional. These are all important changes I’ve made since taking office.

It’s always easier, and certainly politically safer, to leave things as is and say “Yes” to everyone as my predecessor did. But that’s not why I ran for office in 2009. Voters chose me because I was a different kind of candidate, committed to reforming Yorktown’s antiquated government. 

But some people like the status quo. They benefit from it. And they resist change. So when I started making the reforms I promised voters I’d make, I also alienated some people, even some of my original supporters. 

The first and probably most controversial reform I made was being one of four votes on the Town Board to eliminate the Director of Labor Operations position. It’s no secret that the fallout from that vote has been ongoing. But it was the right decision to make and I’d do it over again if I had to. 

I alienated some special interest groups because after weighing all the pros and cons of an issue, I sometimes concluded that what those groups wanted was not in the best interests of the majority of Yorktown residents. I fully understand that the role of special interest groups is to fight for what they want. But it’s my job to look after the interests of the entire town, not just one group.

There are even a few department heads who aren’t happy with the new Procurement Policy I implemented because it makes more paperwork for them. But the bottom line is, it works. It saves a lot of money. Taxpayer’s money.

And finally, there was the State Comptroller’s audit report. Some people were so incensed by the report’s findings that their attitude was: out with all of them, me included.  They didn’t stop to think that I was the person who called for the audit in the first place, that the audit covered the time before I was in office, that it covered Don Peters’ administration, and that I had already implemented 80% of the changes recommended in the report even before the report was issued.

The end result of having the courage to take the stands I did was that Michael Grace, as an outsider, became the candidate of choice for all these angry people. And, as we all know, it’s the negatives who typically come out in a primary. 

Sadly, the result of Tuesday’s Republican primary is that in November, Yorktown will now have two candidates running for Supervisor neither of whom have a real plan of action or a real plan for tackling the Town’s underlying problems. 

On the Democratic line, there’s Don Peters. It was his failure as a Supervisor that prompted me to run in 2009. And Mr. Peters has already stated publicly that if elected he’ll be bringing back Eric DiBartolo as the Director of Labor Operations. That was a mistake then and it’s a bigger mistake now. Considering the recent findings in the audit report, one can only wonder what else Mr. Peters plans for Yorktown.

As for Michael Grace, it’s hard to know what he really plans to do if elected as he hasn’t come out with one significant, workable, practical idea. He keeps promising more commercial development but Yorktown already has seven major commercial development projects in the pipeline. According to the Town’s Planning Director, we’re busier now processing commercial development applications than we’ve been in many years.

Mr. Grace also rails against over regulation but he hasn’t yet named one regulation he would change or eliminate.

Escrow fees. Mr. Grace opposes them but somebody has to pay the legal bills incurred by developers. I don’t think that homeowners should have to pay those costs.

As for Mr. Grace’s plan to hire in-house land use counsel, I’d like to know where he’s going to get the money to bring on this additional staff person. Cortlandt pays $60,000, plus benefits, for a part time planning and zoning attorney – much more than we pay our outside counsel. Maybe Mr. Grace hasn’t heard about the 2% property tax levy cap.

Nor does Mr. Grace seem to know that sewer diversion was killed six years ago. Remarkably, he’s still talking about it as a “solution” to Yorktown’s sewer problems. 

Mr. Grace is also conspicuously silent on one of Yorktown’s key issues: reinstating Eric DiBartolo as the Director of Labor Operations. It’s time he told voters where he stands on this hot button issue. 

Finally, Mr. Grace has yet to answer the question of whether he will give up his law practice and devote his time exclusively to the job of Supervisor.

Putting aside for the moment the very real issue of ethics and potential conflicts of interest, there simply isn’t enough time in the day to take on outside legal work when you’re responsible for overseeing a $50 million budget and the myriad of issues that come across a Supervisor’s desk each and every day. If Mr. Grace intends to collect a $112,000 salary for a part time job, he should tell us now. And he should tell us who he’ll be delegating his responsibilities to while he’s handling his legal business.

Going forward, my campaign will be simple and straight forward. I’ll be campaigning on my record of accomplishments, and my very specific plans for the next two years. There’s more money to be saved by introducing better management systems. I have plans to consolidate several department functions in 2012. And I want to build on the Business Revitalization Plan I already started to fill some of our vacant commercial buildings.  And I will continue to be the 24/7 Supervisor Yorktown needs and deserves. 

Susan Siegel: Position Paper

How I differ from the other two candidates for Supervisor

  • I’m the only truly Independent candidate, beholden to no one and no party. I don’t owe any favors to anyone. The only people I answer to are the people of Yorktown.
  • Unlike my two opponents who are very much a part of the Town’s “old guard,” I’ve spent the past 20 months shaking up the entrenched status quo. I want to forge ahead, not go backward.
  • I’m the only candidate with a proven record of accomplishments as Supervisor. Mr. Peters’ lackluster record speaks for itself. As for Mr. Grace, if he wants to continue to tout his 16 years experience as town attorney (not all of which was in a full time capacity), then he should also take responsibility for the things that went wrong during his tenure:
    • The backlog of uncollected taxes, typically the responsibility of the town attorney’s office.
    • The illegal contract to purchase the Holland Sporting Club cited in the 1996 audit report
    • The failure to address the problems cited in the NYS Comptroller’s 1996 audit..

Commercial development

  • I will continue to support an expedited review of commercial development applications currently in the pipeline, including: Lake Mohegan Motors, the Field Home, Crompond Crossing, Costco, State Land, Contractor’s Register and Croton Overlook.
  • I will continue the process begun in January, 2010 to identify ways to streamline the review process for both subdivision and site plans and building permits. Nothing is static; our procedures are continually being reviewed.
  • I will continue to assist property owners and brokers to market their vacant structures.

Consolidation of Town Services

I support consolidation when properly planned and headed by qualified professionals.

  • The 2012 budget will include the consolidation of all building maintenance staff and functions within the Building Department.
  • Planning continues for the merger of the Planning, Engineering and Building Departments in one location. This will result in a one-stop customer service counter, a future reduction in staffing needs, and a reduced need for redundant equipment such as copiers and plotters.
  • By law, a DPW, headed by a professional engineer, can only be created when the position of Highway Superintendent becomes appointed. The earliest this can happen is January, 2014.
  • Centralized purchasing will be expanded to include more items, resulting in better prices and greater efficiencies. Once we get our own purchasing centralized, we will explore a cooperative purchasing arrangement with the Yorktown School District. While the Town would benefit if it had a full time purchasing agent, given the 2% cap issue, there’s no money at this time to add a new position.

Town Board dynamics

  • Disagreement and compromise is at the heart of a healthy, vibrant Town Board. I would question whether a Board that consistently voted 5-0 and rubber stamped the initiatives of a single member was taking its job seriously.
  • That said, Board members should respect each other’s opinions. There is no excuse for a lack of civility and common politeness to fellow board members as well as to the public.
  • Decorum must be maintained at all times at Town Board meetings and, if and when necessary, the public will be reminded of the Board’s rules and procedures so that the Board can conduct its business.

Other initiatives waiting in the wings

There are many things to be done because there are many years of neglect to catch up on.

Aristotle September 24, 2011 at 03:07 PM
With the attitude Mrs. Siegel has shown citizens speaking at town board meetings, especially those that have asked repeatedly for an open public forum to discuss the audit findings from the report titled "Town of Yorktown Ethics and Internal Controls Over Purchasing Practices and Computer Use", no wonder she lost the primary. She's arrogant, belligerent and not willing to listen to anyone else that might have ideas. It's always her way or the highway. Goodbye Mrs. Siegel your time is up!
john CONKLIN September 24, 2011 at 03:48 PM
Siegel may rub people the wrong way. Boo hoo. Get over it. It's not a popularity contest. She is an excellent administrator who has used her time in office to straighten out many issues that have been created and ignored by previous elected officials. I feel Siegel has made many tough decisions that others were afraid to make, all with the taxpayer in mind. She'll get my vote in November.

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