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Tarrytown Board of Trustees Candidates Tackle Issues at Forum

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October 18, 2023

By Rick Pezzullo—

Six candidates vying for three available seats on the Tarrytown Board of Trustees tackled a variety of issues during a League of Women Voters forum conducted on Zoom Oct. 12.

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Becky McGovern, a 16-year incumbent, is seeking another two-year term running on the Democratic line with fellow incumbents David Kim and Effie Phillips-Staley. The ticket is headed by Mayor Karen Brown.

On the Republican and Village First party lines, Peter Bartolacci, John Callanan and Haydee McCarthy are looking for support from voters with former Trustee Doug Zollo running for mayor at the top of the slate.

McGovern, a retired teacher, took issue with criticism that the current board have been poor communicators and don’t listen to the concerns of their constituents.

“I think we work very hard,” she said. “With the ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units), we rewrote that three times, so that is listening to people. We put the effort out there. Tarrytown has 11,000 residents. We can’t reach everyone. We haven’t been remiss.”

Phillips-Staley, an experienced non-profit executive with a 25-year work history in social justice, art education and museums who is running for a second term, pointed out the village puts out a weekly newsletter that has about 4,300 subscribers.

“I’m proud of our accomplishments,” she said. “I’m grateful to be on this slate. We work well together and we care for the citizens of this village.”

Bartolacci, a finance, marketing and human resources consultant who has lived in Tarrytown for 20 years, maintained the biggest issue in the village is the “non-representative board.”

“There’s a problem in Tarrytown. I don’t think the Board of Trustees listens to their residents. They have already formulated their positions. That’s a problem,” said Bartolacci, who unsuccessfully ran for the board two years ago. “I have seen improvement. There has been an attempt. I encourage more of it. We absolutely have to figure out a way to allow residents to speak at meetings.”

McCarthy, an interior designer, and Callanan, an historian and 21-year resident of Tarrytown, agreed with their running mate’s assessment.

“The Board of Trustees and mayor are elected to represent all of Tarrytown, not just those who agree with them,” McCarthy said.

“I’m largely here because of the lack of transparency,” Callanan said. “We can do better and we must do better. I’m willing to listen to the people of the village.”

Kim had the distinction of being the first Korean American public official in Westchester County when he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the board in Sept. 2020. He was elected to a full two-year term in 2021.

 

The trained architect and urban planner cited traffic safety as a major concern, along with the lack of workforce housing in the village.

 

“Our rules inhibit flexibility,” Kim said when asked about affordable housing options. “Tarrytown is at a crossroads. We have accomplished much, but our work is ongoing.”

 

McGovern and Phillips-Staley said the village’s current requirement of developers providing 10 percent of units in new buildings as affordable wasn’t enough.

 

“There isn’t sufficient housing for people who grew up in Tarrytown to stay here,” Phillips-Staley said.

 

All the candidates also offered their thoughts on the future of the Washington Irving Boat Club and development of the waterfront.

 

“There’s certain things in town that don’t need to be changed,” McCarthy said of the marina.

 

“It’s a working man’s marina. It fits the character of Tarrytown,” Bartolacci said.

 

Early voting kicks off on Oct. 28. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7.

 

 

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