BEDFORD, N.Y. -- This year's elections for two council seats on the Bedford Town Board include a quartet of candidates with histories of local engagement.
Incumbent (and Deputy Supervisor) David Gabrielson is seeking another term on the local Democratic ticket with challenger MaryAnn Carr, while fellow incumbent Don Scott is running on the Republican ticket with former Supervisor Lee Roberts, who is attempting a political comeback.
Gabrielson and Carr are also running with incumbent Supervisor Chris Burdick; the Republicans did not run a supervisor candidate this year, while independent Patrick Brennan is running as a challenger.
At a recent candidate forum, which was held at Fox Lane Middle School and sponsored by the local League of Women Voters chapter, candidates weighed in on an array of local issues; questions were submitted by the league, Daily Voice and The Record-Review.
Scott, who was elected in a special election last year to fill a vacancy left from when Burdick became supervisor, touted his work during his short tenure. Examples included pushing for legislation to tackle "zombie" homes, which are properties in limbo during the foreclosure process and not being maintained regularly.
“We’re just getting started,” Scott said. Additionally, Scott warned about the rise in employee benefits, which are growing faster than the annual state-mandated property tax cap.
Gabrielson, who was first elected in 2007, touted his work in helping the Town Board with efficient budgets and staying within the tax cap. He also called for using reserves for budgeting when it is prudent.
Roberts, who served as a councilwoman and supervisor over two decades before stepping down in 2013, recalled that she wanted to leave the board because she felt that others should have the chance to govern. Since then, however, Roberts said that she realizes her "first love" is public service. During the intervening time, Roberts has been involved with several groups in the area, such as Bedford 2020 and an organization of Westchester municipal officials. Regarding Bedford's financial condition, Roberts noted the challenges of unfunded mandates, which come from the state level, while calling for getting new revenue streams; film permits were an example of a rising source.
Carr, who has been involved with Antioch Baptist Church in Bedford Hills and the Community Center of Northern Westchester in Katonah, called for adding a new perspective to complement the experience of her running mates. She also touted the fiscal record of her colleagues, such as choosing a refurbishment of the police station, which is slated to cost about $3.5 million to $4 million, over a proposal for a new building that would have cost about $10 million.
The candidates did not have any significant disagreements at the forum. For example, one question, which is whether or not the town's land-use board meetings who should be video recorded, was met with support from all four. Scott, who has worked with the town's communications committee, then explained that the ability to do so will come with a new vendor agreement.
A rare point of disagreement between the slates involved a planned refurbishment of the highway department's building. Roberts and Scott expressed concern that the proposal will not be enough for its needs, while Gabrielson and Carr defended it on fiscal grounds; Gabrielson also noted that the project will address future needs, based on feedback from a department head and architect.
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