Patch: Why did you decide to run for re-election?
Christine Robbins: I gave considerable thought before deciding to run for Somers Supervisor. I decided that the time was right for a change in leadership. This year there is an open seat for that position and numerous people from all parties encouraged me to run for Supervisor.
The endorsements extended to me by the Somers Democratic Town Committee, Independence Party and Working Families Party also encouraged me to run. I strongly believe in open government and that elected officials are accountable to the residents of our town, and in many instances this has not been the case. The final straw came when the town board refused to answer simple questions put to them by the League of Women Voters because they were afraid of the political fallout.
I don't see how you can consider yourself a town leader when you won't even answer a straight-forward question put to you in a public meeting. An elected official in this town owes a resident the courtesy of an answer.
Patch: What personal or professional experiences qualify you to serve as a supervisor?
Robbins: I have been involved in the community for over 26 years serving on state, county and local boards and committees. A few are listed below.
- Member of Somers League of Women Voters
- Served as President of Somers Newcomers Club
- Served as President of Somer's Womens Club
- Served on Board of Directors for Hope's Door, helping abused women and children countywide
- NYS Commitee woman 94th Assembly District
- Founding Board member of statewide organization - Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Committee
- Member of the Somers Friends of the Library. Served on the Library Fair Committee
- Member of the Somers Historical Society
- Active member of the Church of the Good Shepherd
As a marketing manager with Haarmann & Reimer a former subsidiary of Bayer Corp., managing a real estate office and a small business I have extensive managerial experience. I also have experience as a political consultant and fundraiser.
Patch: What are the top three issues facing town residents?
Robbins: The town of Somers needs a Capital Improvement Fund to sustain and improve our aging infrastructure. We need to develop a long term plan for capital renovation, repair and funding.
There has been zero dollars put into the Capital Improvement budget code line 9950.94. I would make sure that the town board starts addressing this issue so that we can responsibly repair and update our aging infrastructure. With proper budgeting we would not have to borrow $2 million every other year to pave our roads. Because of the 10-year bonds it means that the town will always be $10 million in debt to repave its roads.
Due to the lack of funds the town board eliminated the Conservation Board and town engineer, cut back to a part time town planner, reduced the police force, and reduced library personnel.
We need to institute a proactive rather than a reactive approach to running our town. Prioritize our spending and prepare for emergenices ... before they happen.
The residents of our town deserved a more open, transparent and accountable government.
Patch: Describe your campaign platform or how you differentiate yourself from your opponent's platform?
Robbins: I would actively seek grant money from federal, state and county governments so that we can enhance and sustain the Somers Library and our parks. Attend grant writing seminars, informational grant workshops, NYS Association of Towns meetings and join the "GrantFinder" program to identify grants. Stretch our tax dollars and get "more bang for our buck" by consolidating both services and spending. Find ways to bring other revenue to town to stay below the tax cap.
I would look into making Somers a more "green" town by working with the Somers Energy and Environment Committee to identify areas where we can save on energy dollars. Fully implement both the “Sustainable Somers Action Plan” and “Energize NY” program to qualify for increased funding opportunities.
I think we need to attract more businesses to Somers that would create jobs and bring in revenue. I would work with the Somers Chamber of Commerce and landlords to create incentives to achieve that goal. Increase Somers’ share of state funding for energy-saving projects by adopting the “N.Y.S. Complete Streets” program, and by joining the Tri-State Transportation organization to locate grants to create more pedestrian and bike friendly pathways in the center of town.
Address the stormwater management issues that impact our town.
Patch: Should you be re-elected, what would you like to achieve over the course of your term?
Robbins: We need to get serious about long term planning. Master plans should be updated every 10 years. There hasn't been an updated comprehensive master plan put into place since 1994 to face the future needs of our town. Times have changed, but both our master plan and our government appear to be behind the times.
Create a more open, transparent and accountable government. I would conduct monthly "Saturday with the Supervisor" open town hall meetings where issues can be discussed and resolved. Institute a new "Kitchen Cabinet" quarterly meeting protocol with town department heads to share ideas and services, improve efficiency, and establish common goals.
I would put a comprehensive plan into place to face the future needs of our town. It's time to roll up our sleeves, analyze our needs and get things accomplished. We need to get creative and find ways to stretch taxpayers' dollars. One way to accomplish this is to have better interaction between town departments. It is important that we share ideas and services and work toward potentially saving tax dollars.
Establish a Central Purchasing Agent so that all depts. can benefit from the best prices, and so that the various town departments could focus their attention on the needs of the residents rather than the rigmarole of figuring out business decisions. It will be much more efficient to have all that work centralized in one office rather than having the various departments duplicating each other's efforts.
Support building a Community/Senior Center. Encourage developers to contribute to a community center fund. We have promised a facility to our seniors for years and nothing has been done. Combining a Community Center with a Senior Center would allow us to apply for grant dollars that are targeted for senior programs. We could also use the center as a warming station for residents when there are power outages.
I would enlist the advice of financial analysts to find ways to better fund future projects and make our money work harder for us.
Patch: Is there anything we haven't asked that you would like the public to know about you or your candidacy?
Robbins: We need to continually update our Somers Emergency Preparedness program with up-to-the-minute improvements by coordinating with neighboring towns and the county for regional coordination of services.
Increase support for Somers Police by updating much needed equipment and technology to better prepare for emergencies before they happen.
Work closely with our first responders to conduct emergency simulations once every year to fully set procedures in place in case of emergencies such as power outages caused by storms.
Coordinate improved information sharing between NYSEG, Comcast, Verizon and Cablevision and town residents. Blackouts have lasted far too long with far too little information provided to the town. We must do everything we can to avoid and/or reduce blackouts in the first place.