By Barrett Seaman—
The Democrats running for re-election as Trustees in Irvington, Mitchell Bard and Arlene Burgos, had no opposition this cycle and thus won handily. But there was one not-quite-new name on the ballot this year: Jon Siegel, also uncontested–and now Irvington’s Mayor-elect.
Siegel has had the job before, from 2009 until he stepped down in 2011, as the demands of his day job proved too much to handle the workload demanded of a village mayor. He was succeeded by Brian C. Smith, who served for the next 12 years. Siegel will now take the gavel back—this time unburdened by the demands of his former position as CEO and General Counsel of Walker Innovation Inc, a small communications consulting firm.
Even in his brief single term, Siegel earned a reputation as a pragmatist and problem-solver who managed to steer clear of impassioned politics. That probably won’t change. With one-party control of the Board of Trustees, he is unlikely to face much internal opposition, but there are issues like zoning, affordable housing and finding new homes for the fire and public works departments that will continue to spark controversy in the village as a whole.
His approach going into the job: “I’m not concerned about what someone’s political party is—just whether they are willing to work in the best interests of the village,” he says, “I’m not looking for flash.”
He is looking for efficiency, however, as well as for better communications between the village government and its citizens. That will range from getting more people to sign up for village emails to holding more public hearings on issues in a timely manner.
One of the first issues Siegel and the board must address is the need to upgrade the fire house, this in the wake of the better than five to one defeat of an $18.2 million bond issue that had combined funds for rebuilding the fire house with funds to move the administrative offices, police department, rec staff and courthouse into a new complex. Siegel monitored deliberations on these plans but will now have to revisit the issue from scratch. “What I’d like to do is take a very careful look at each of the things that were included in that bill,” he says. By soliciting public opinion on individual components of what had been an omnibus capital plan, Siegel hopes priorities will emerge and lead to an affordable plan.
How to break the logjam on developing the North Broadway corridor is another challenge Siegel and the board must face. Two major projects—one, an assisted living campus, the other an affordable housing complex—were rejected, either by the village or by the developer, leaving in doubt how this critical stretch of property will be utilized in the future.
Jon Siegel may have been out of office for a dozen years, but as he says, “the issues don’t change dramatically in a 12-year period.” The end goals are the same. “My goal is to keep Irvington attractive, affordable and accessible to everyone.”Read or leave a comment on this story...