BEDFORD, N.Y. -- Incumbent Bedford Supervisor Chris Burdick and opponent Patrick Brennan found themselves discussing the town's leadership and communications at a recent forum.
The forum, held at Fox Lane Middle School and presented by the local League of Women Voters chapter, included questions to the candidates from the League, Daily Voice and The Record-Review.
Burdick, the Democratic candidate who is seeking a second, two-year term, touted his track record, including town budgets coming within the tax cap, funding community events and adding improvements to all three hamlet parks.
“Experience matters, experience as your supervisor working through tough problems. I offer a positive record and tangible results.”
Brennan, a Katonah architect who is running on an independent line called Go Bedford, argued that the status quo in town government in insufficient.
“We have a lot of challenges facing our community - taxes, clean water, aging infrastructure - but the big overarching challenge is leadership.”
Brennan was critical about the town's Comprehensive Plan not having been updated for 12 years; the latest update round is now underway. Brennan singled out the lack of movement on a wastewater management recommendation from the plan's 2003 update, and said that the town needs to create advisory panels and engage stakeholders for the latest update.
Burdick, who was part of the group that worked on the previous update, responded that the previous recommendation, which involve bringing in sewers, was later found to be unaffordable and would have resulted in a "crushing tax burden" for the tax base. As an alternative, the incumbent cited his role in helping to secure $3.5 million in funds under a county program to help repair and replace septic systems, an initiative that will cover more than 85 percent of town residents.
In a further rebuttal, Burdick noted efforts already underway for the Comprehensive Plan's update, including the retention of Pace University for assistance and upcoming outreach to business groups and property owners.
Another issue raised is business development in the hamlets, with the controversial CVS expansion proposal in Katonah (since halted) and discussion over future uses of the Bedford Hills train station among examples cited.
Brennan, whose wife, Cynthia, owns the recently shuttered Table Local Market in downtown Bedford Hills, noted that the retail environment has changed over the years, citing the impact of online commerce on mom-and-pop stores. Citing the investment that merchants make, Brennan called for the town to invest in hamlet infrastructure, streets, signage and lighting.
Burdick cited his record in hamlet affairs, including a cap on store sizes approved in response to a request from the Katonah Village Improvement Society (KVIS) - the cap, which lowered the minimum amount of first-floor space for new retailers, blocked the CVS expansion from going through - and in getting the Post Office to stay at its Bedford Hills location.
Burdick and Brennan will face off on election day, which is Tuesday, Nov. 3. Burdick is running on a Democratic ticket, with David Gabrielson and MaryAnn Carr running for a pair of council seats. Brennan, in contrast, is running by himself.
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