Click here for incumbent Michael Grace's responses.Editor's Note: We asked the candidates for Yorktown Supervisor – incumbent Michael Grace and councilman Nick Bianco – a series of questions before the Election on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Here are the responses by Yorktown Councilman Nick Bianco.
Patch: Why did you decide to run for election?
Nick Bianco: I've spent 26 years in public service in Yorktown – 10 on the Conservation Board and 16 years on the Town Board. In that time we've worked together to make Yorktown a better place. That's the spirit of Yorktown, that regardless of our differences we can sit down and work things out so that everyone feels that their voice has been heard and that they are a part of the process. It takes time and a lot of hard work; democracy isn't easy. But that's been lost in the past two years. Time and again we see decisions made in secret, behind closed doors, that benefit a small group of insiders. I don't want to see all that hard work that so many of us have achieved get undone.
But more than that, I want to see the spirit of Yorktown restored. That's what we need to preserve, when we talk about progress with preservation: the sense that we're all in this together. That Yorktown belongs to everyone, not just the Supervisor's friends.
Patch: What personal or professional experiences qualify you to serve as a supervisor?
Bianco: This is all detailed, along with my specific ideas and goals for the town, on my website, nickforyorktown.com. My career as a law enforcement officer and now in recent years as an investigator for the Westchester County Legal Aid Society has made one thing clear above all else: family matters. I moved to Yorktown to raise my children, and Ginny and I have been truly blessed that they were able to grow up in such a wonderful place.
I was asked by the Supervisor back in 1986 to join the Conservation Board as the first Enforcement Officer in Westchester County; aside from making sure that the laws were followed and our great natural beauty protected, I'm proud of the work we did to rewrite and strengthen the town rules and regulations on wetlands. I resigned from that post when I was first elected to the Town Board, on which I've now served four terms.
Over the past 25 years I've worked closely with several Supervisors and I don't know how many constituents and local businesses to help resolve their problems and work toward improving the way things are done here in town. As we saw in just the past few weeks in Washington, there are deep divisions and ideological differences that make governing almost impossible. We simply can't allow that to happen here in Yorktown. That's what scares me the most, that in the past two years so many people that we've worked with in the past now feel left out. It's just not right: Yorktown belongs to all of us.
Patch: What are the top three issues facing town residents?
Bianco: Taxes, number one. I can tell you to the dollar how much it costs to run this town and where the money goes, and I've worked relentlessly to keep our expenses as low as possible. I can also tell you where each and every dollar comes from. We're not the Federal Government, we can't just print money to fill the gap. We have to be realistic and draw up budgets that are sensible and will keep us fiscally sound over the long term. My eye is always on the future; and I have tried to sound the alarm for two years now about the shenanigans and tricks the current Supervisor is using to make it look like he's saving money. It's so shortsighted and dishonest: if you want to play games with a budget, it's easy. But it's irresponsible. Anyone can raid their savings account to pay their bills, but no responsible person does that. I want to restore a sound fiscal policy to our town -- one that looks to long-term health and security.
Number two also involves taxes -- it's attracting new business to town, and making sure that those that are here feel welcome. But under our current Supervisor, a few are favored and the rest feel left out. You shouldn't have to be a major campaign contributor for your concerns to be heard. You shouldn't have to go over the the Grace Building and make deals behind closed doors. No business is going to come to a town that has a reputation for that kind of insider dealing. This isn't some third world banana republic, where you have to know who to see to get anything done. We need to go back to an honest, clear, transparent government that operates in the open at Town Hall.
Third is pretty simple: progress with preservation. There is so much that can be done, but we don't have to sacrifice what we have, or sell it at cut-rate prices to any out-of-town developer who happens to turn up. We need to enforce the laws and establish a level playing field. It's the way we've always done things, and for more than two hundred years it's seemed to work just fine.
Patch: Describe your campaign platform or how you differentiate yourself from your opponent's platform?
Bianco: My record speaks for itself: I believe that we only achieve real progress when we work together and everyone has a voice. Like I said, it's not easy, and it takes a lot of time and patience. But it's the way democracy works. You have to lay a proper foundation if you want to build a house that will be there for your grandchildren. We have some huge challenges facing us in the coming years, and we need to have everyone working together to meet them. I have no doubt that we will: one thing I've learned over the years, and that's that if we join forces and put our minds to it we in Yorktown can get things done.
Patch: Should you be elected, what would you like to achieve over the course of your term?
Bianco: I want to see us return to those values and way of doing things that lead to solid, real growth. We need to keep attracting new businesses to enlarge our tax base. We have to look to the future: these once-in-a-century storms are now happening every other year. I want to be sure that our infrastructure is ready for the next Sandy. We need to establish and stick to realistic budgets that will control current costs and offer us a sound fiscal future.
Patch: Is there anything we haven't asked that you would like the public to know about you or your candidacy?
Bianco: I want to thank everyone for having given me the opportunity to serve on the Town Board. The harder the work, the more satisfying the reward; and the past 16 years have given me a chance to do things that really matter to make this town a better place. I'd like to continue that work with a team that shares my vision of what this town can be, building on a solid foundation.