BEDFORD, N.Y. -- March is normally a quiet time of the year for Bedford politics, but a special election to fill a vacant council seat has resulted in a busy set of weeks.
The special election is being held on Tuesday to fill a seat vacated by Francis Corcoran, a Republican who resigned late last year after being elected to the Westchester County Board of Legislators. The seat has a term that expires on Dec. 31, 2017.
Vying for Corcoran's old seat are Republican Luke Vander Linden and Democrat MaryAnn Carr, a pair who share some things in common. Both candidates have served as the chairs of their parties' town committees. The two also ran unsuccessfully for council seats, with Vander Linden's bid in 2011 and Carr's this past November. Also notable is that, regardless of who wins, the town board will once again have a resident from Bedford Hills.
The town board currently features three Katonah residents and one Bedford Village resident.
The candidates touted their backgrounds during a recent forum, which was moderated by the local League of Women Voters chapter.
Vander Linden noted his roles on the board of the Bedford Hills Free Library, the town's Communications Committee and in helping to create a new master plan for Bedford Hills' park. He also argued that involvement in town appointed boards or local organizations is key for experience to served in a council seat.
“You need to have served before."
Carr touted her involvement with a parents' associations, volunteering for two decades as a member of the Antioch Baptist Church in Bedford Hills and assisting the Community Center of Northern Westchester in Katonah.
“I have the commitment, the experience and skills to serve Bedford effectively.”
An IT consultant by profession, Carr noted her history in bringing people together to work on complicated issues.
Addressing a question about the state of the town, Carr praised the town government's financial record, specifically with the work of Supervisor Chris Burdick, while also noting that retention of services.
“This is something that we can all be proud of."
Vander Linden praised the town's years of leadership, although he added that there is an "impending crisis" for it, citing unfunded state mandates and their fiscal impacts.
Vitality of the hamlet's three hamlets, especially Bedford Hills, is a key issue for the candidates.
Vander Linden suggested that the town's role can be to support hamlet organizations. He also praised the efforts of Bedford Hills Live, a civic group that formed last year and focuses on revitalizing Bedford Hills, along with the Bedford Hills Historical Museum. The groups, he noted, have had presences at the train station, which has helped to bolster downtown foot traffic.
Carr, who also praised the work of Bedford Hills' aforementioned groups, addressed the importance of getting a long-term lease of the train station property from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) so that the town can plan for long-term usage of the space.
The town's agreement, which technically a sub-lease, expired last year.
The two also addressed an upcoming update of the town's Comprehensive Plan, which is the overarching document governing land use. Vander Linden suggested, as a new approach, doing a separate plan for each hamlet and potential another one for the Route 117 commercial corridor.
Carr believes, by contrast, in using one plan.
“I don't see a problem with it being a single plan for all three hamlets."
Vander Linden is also running on the Conservative and Reform Party ballot lines, while Carr is also running on the Independence and Working Families Party lines.
For more information about voting on Tuesday, call the town clerk's office at 914-666-4534.
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