Trustees Gebler, Gonzalez, Spiro Running Unopposed in Sleepy Hollow Election

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by Rick Pezzullo – 

Three trustees in the Village of Sleepy Hollow will be running unopposed for their second two-year terms on Tuesday, March 20. (Voting takes place from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.)

Rachelle Gebler, Sam Gonzalez and Sandra Spiro were all first elected to the village Board of Trustees in 2016. Gebler and Spiro have both been village residents since 2004, while Gonzalez has called Sleepy Hollow home for the last 25 years.

Each of the candidates recently responded to identical questions posed to them.

Rachelle Gebler

Why are you running for reelection?

The past two years have given me an amazing education in how our village government works and really how much is happening in our little community. Now I plan on putting that knowledge to work on initiatives that our residents feel are important in both maintaining the culture of our village and moving us forward to even better things.

What do you feel has been your role or you have contributed as a trustee during your first two years on board?

The first job I signed up for as a village trustee was performing public outreach surrounding the new East Parcel project. The East Parcel is the piece of land on the east side of the railroad tracks at the bottom of Continental Street that will ultimately house a new DPW complex as well as sports fields, performance space and a community center. I met so many residents from different parts of the village during that process and that experience helped me realize how important one-on-one outreach is to understanding the tapestry of cultures and backgrounds that make our village great. It also helped me understand how important it is to make sure the public is engaged in any changes that happen in our community because it is their experiences living here that shape what will be needed in the future.

What do you feel have been the board’s most significant accomplishments over the last two years?

I feel the biggest strength our board possesses is an amazing work ethic and a diversity of interests. We are very much a working board in the sense that we don’t just meet once a week to pass resolutions, but are very active in the community. That’s important for understanding current issues in our village that need to be addressed as well as understanding what makes our village a unique and wonderful place to live. Each trustee and the mayor take on a multitude of tasks from liaising with the developers of the Edge-on-Hudson project, to working with the fire department to understand what equipment they need to keep us safe, to updating our village website to make sure it is easy for our residents to use so they can stay informed. Because our board understands the importance of the work we do, we are able to accomplish a great deal together.

What do you feel are the most pressing issues facing the village and what do you see the board focusing on in the near future?

Of course, the Edge-on-Hudson development is foremost in most of our minds. It is a huge project and will be extremely beneficial to our village. In addition, we are in the process of updating our Comprehensive Plan and Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) which together we call the Master Plan. Change is inevitable for our village and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. With the help of the Master Plan, we can manage that change in a way that benefits our residents while maintaining the character of the village we all love.

Sam Gonzalez

Why are you running for reelection?

Having served for the last two years, I’m in a much better position to serve the community. The last two years have been a significant learning curve on how our Village government operates, how our employees tackle their work and how we as a board form policy to effectively govern the Village.  Having this experience, I now have a much better perspective on the priorities we need to focus on and how to solve problems and issues as they arise.

2) What do you feel has been your role or you have contributed as a trustee during your first two years on board?

My focus has been on keeping taxes down by managing village expenses, supporting the identification and hiring of new talent (superintendents) in the village, and ensuring that the Edge on Hudson and East Parcel developments are carefully managed and are moving forward. I have also focused on ways to improve the care of Fremont Pond, and I’m working on improving the aesthetic of the Route 9 corridor.

3) What do you feel have been the board’s most significant accomplishments over the last two years?

Edge on Hudson and East Parcel development progress.  This includes the partnership with the LDC. Hiring of leadership in several of our departments, including the new Chief of Police and superintendents for the Recreation Department and Department of Public Works.  I enjoy working to find board consensus on a Comprehensive Plan for the Village’s future.

4) What do you feel are the most pressing issues facing the village and what do you see the board focusing on in the near future?

The Edge on Hudson, East Parcel development and the Comprehensive Plan (CP) will continue to be a primary focus for us in the next 2 years.  We need to drive our economic development efforts by partnering with the local Chamber of Commerce, business owners and prospective business investors.  Finally, engaging the community to help us find innovative ways to improve housing safety and availability to all of our residents will be an on-going priority.

Sandra Spiro

1) ) Why are you running for reelection?

For one, I got the bug for local government and was welcomed by the administration and the Board.  When you work together with dedicated board members there is no other choice but to use your ideas to make a collective difference and see what is possible.

In the first two years, I took the time to get involved with the administration’s select projects by spending time with residents throughout our village. They provided the insight and knowledge to represent their community while keeping the village task at hand.

Equally important is my recent involvement in the Sleepy Hollow Master Plan. I welcomed the responsibility to be part of the core team to see the Master Plan move forward, knowing it would require an investment of time over the next two years to create the continuity it deserves.  It’s for all these reasons I decided to run for reelection.

2) What do you feel has been your role or you have contributed as a trustee during your first two years on board?

I must say the bar was high knowing what our village needed from the board members to meet the vision Mayor Wray had on the horizon for our community.  These were big expectations and right from the beginning my first project was to create a strong marketing strategy. We needed to build a communication plan that was informative, educational and created a two-way conversation on many levels.

It was clear to the Board what was needed and with my network and expertise in digital marketing, I ran with it. While I led the infrastructure development, the content and input came from many, and today our collective efforts created a new Sleepy Hollow website, a quarterly newsletter, and a government Facebook page.  With special thanks to a Sleepy Hollow intern, who ran with it for six months, we built content and a strong on-line network.   In addition, two websites were created for projects that are very important to the village.  The first, the Sleepy Hollow LDC website www.sleepyhollowny.gov/local-development-corporation to support the on-going communication for the #1 Village project, the East Parcel, and the other, most recently launched, is the Sleepy Hollow Master Plan website www.sleepyhollowconnected.com. None of this would have happened without the Board’s own “master plan” to be more engaged than ever with our Sleepy Hollow residents and businesses.

3) What do you feel have been the board’s most significant accomplishments over the last two years?

Over and above the infrastructure accomplishments for the past two years we spent a great deal of time understanding the future needs of our village. As a board, we needed to be mindful in setting up our departments to succeed and be ready for the many projects in the pipeline and the increased population – in the next three to five years we will experience a 25% increase in population.

We know our most valuable asset is our village employees.  There are many demands being placed on our village to grow and change and to staff appropriately will be key in facing those demands. To date, we have two new Superintendents, added staff to the building department, and to the police force all while holding the line on taxes.

4) What do you feel are the most pressing issues facing the village, and what do you see the board focusing on in the near future? 

Growth will be the most pressing issue. The board will continue to focus on recognizing and bridging the old and the new  – always looking at both sides with everyone invited to the table. The board will endeavor to balance our village’s rich history and charm into the future.

 

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