Two Somers men are vying to serve a one-year term on the Somers Town Board in a special election on Tuesday after Harry Bolton, former councilman, resigned earlier this year due to health problems.
George Dieter, who served one four-year term on the board, and Anthony Cirieco, a Somers school board member, are the two candidates.
When Bolton resigned in March, the town board appointed Richard Benedict to replace him until a special election in November. Bolton's term will expire on December 31, 2013.
Dieter, 60, has lived in Somers with his wife since 1989. The couple has three children. The man is an attorney who was endorsed by the Democratic, Independent and Working Family Parties. He previously served on the Somers school board from 1994 to 2000; and he was a councilman from 2006 to 2009. He is involved with the following civic organizations: Conservation Board, Planning Board, President of the Somers High School Marching Band Parents' Association.
Cirieco, 59, has lived in Somers since 1983 with his wife Carol and three children. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Accounting and MBA in Finance. For the past couple of years he has been an investment manager at Morgan Stanley in Mount Kisco. He is currently serving his second term as trustee on the Somers School Board. For years, he has coached football and lacrosse and was chairman of Scout Pack 210. He also supports his wife's efforts with American Cancer’s Societies’ Relay for Life where she raised more than $200,000. Cirieco was endorsed by the Republican Party and Conservative Party with the support of town Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy and the Somers Republican Committee.
Below is a Q&A with Cirieco. Click here for a Q&A with Dieter.
Patch: What are the three biggest issues facing your district or town?
Cirieco: Like most municipalities, slow "revenue growth," "rising expenses"(associated with pension costs, heath care costs, fuel and utilities) that are increasing beyond the 2 percent tax cap; addressing “the need to maintain our existing infrastructure and service levels."
I am concerned about our senior citizens ability to manage on fixed incomes, the portion of your community that may be unemployed, our youth that needs to be kept engaged in activities and our families that hope to retire here in an affordable fashion.
Patch: How would you address those issues?
Cirieco: What this means is that our planning must be prioritized in the context of the climate of slow growth and rising costs. The town needs to look ahead 12 months and create a financial picture to prioritize what is urgent, important, and nice to have. After answering these questions the town needs to come up with a three year plan, identify risks and opportunities and use these as a benchmark for making decisions on the projects we would like to accomplish and the services we value as a community.
Advocate that all expenditure proposals are assessed for measurable added value; undergo a review of alternatives for the most cost effective solutions.
Advocate (I have always been) for the “coordination of government” between schools, and town. As an example, recreation facilities must to be coordinated to insure full utilization. Snow removal and road maintenance are coordinated with schools to reduce costs.
Patch: If you are a challenger or running for an open seat, what would you do differently than the previous office holder?
Cirieco: This is a special election to fill a one year term. The seat I am running for is temporarily occupied by Richard Benedict, retired businessman and President of Heritage Hills Society. Richard has endorsed my candidacy.
Patch: Westchester is among the highest-taxed counties in the nation. What would you do to lower the tax burden? Be specific.
Cirieco: I will start by saying that I want Somers remain as one of the lowest taxed towns in Westchester. I advocate that we match expenses with activities levels. In times of slow growth you look to part time versus full time personnel commitments. Shorten contract terms and be mindful that the town does not get stuck with unsustainable commitments in this low growth climate. With community involvement advocate for efficiency of use programs associated utilities and energy conservation.
Patch: Why are you running for office?
Cirieco: As a family, we have a history of participation with the school, town and Somers community. I believe that community leadership is a “life example” for our children and our youth.
Patch: Why should people vote for you?
Cirieco: I bring an enormous amount of financial and business experience in challenging economic times. I have proven management skills, budget and planning experience. My background compliments the career experiences of other town board member’s. Town Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy is an attorney, Councilman Tom Garrity is a sales professional, Councilman Richard Clinchy is an educator and Councilman Rick Morrissey is an expert in environmental health. As a community leader, I have continuity serving the Somers Community, lowering costs and maintaining service level priorities in challenging times.
My present position on the school board and activities on various committees uniquely situates me to leverage my relationships to advocate for coordination of government between the town and school. I have demonstrated the ability to manage expectations, be “up front with people” and bring people together.
Patch: Describe your campaign platform or how you differentiate yourself from your opponent's platform?
Cirieco: In a time of slow or flat revenue growth and increasing cost, maintaining our present infrastructure and maintaining a low tax rate is going to be the challenge! Over the first year we want to maintain the present infrastructure in a cost effective fashion with safety being a priority. My platform is about establishing financial priorities for the projects and initiatives that the town has on its agenda while distinguishing our “needs versus our wants” in the context of what we value as a community.