OSSINING, N.Y. In the village of Ossining, newcomer and Democrat Victoria Gearity will be running unopposed for a vacant village trustee seat left open by Marlene Cheatham while trustee John Codman runs unopposed for the second trustee position.
Republican challenger Linda Cabral Marrero and incumbent Democrat William Hanauer are set to vie for mayor in the November general election. The Ossining Daily Voice asked each candidate to fill out a questionnaire with some basic information. Answers were limited to 150 words. Below are Codmans answers.
Name: John Codman III
Family: Widowed with 2 children, Lyle, 20, and Emma, 17
Occupation: Corporate Talent Acquisition
Years lived in Ossining: 24
Party Affiliation and ballot lines held: Working Families Party Member on WFP and Democratic lines
Years in office: 1 year
Other elected positions held: None
Civic organizations: None at present, committed to village government
1. What are the three biggest issues facing your district or town?
Codman: Property taxes, commercial development, Village Budget
2. How would you address those issues?
Codman: Property taxes have regretfully risen every year. Due to commercial and residential tax certiorari claims, our 2012 budget set aside a substantial six-figure amount to settle those claims. Our projected collection of total taxes for 2013 actually will be less than 2012, and we still will have to set aside money to settle future claims. We face a difficult financial and operational dilemma since we need to continue to maintain and improve village services. In 2012, we had six fewer municipal workers than 2011. We were able to achieve this through retirements and not filling vacant positions. We are faced with another difficult challenge again for the 2013 budget with lower revenues, unfunded mandates and uncontrollable pension and health care obligations. This is not sustainable in the long run. State governments mandate for the 2 percent tax cap has no basis in reality when it comes to municipal budgets.
3. What were your biggest achievements?
Codman: Settlement of the village police union contract, the sale of a village parcel in the downtown for development, execution of an RFP for schematic analysis for two other downtown parcels that we need to sell to private developers, supported the hiring of a part time down town manager to assist existing businesses and foster new commercial interest in the Village of Ossining and liaison to Energize Ossining, a program for free energy audits for residential homeowners.
4. Westchester is among the highest-taxed counties in the nation. What would you do to lower the tax burden?
Codman: There are too many taxing districts. Only through municipal consolidations and cost take out through inter-municipal agreements can we reduce the tax burden of redundant government structures. Ossining is far ahead of Westchester and New York in this regard as we have been doing IMAs for 20 years. County and state government have to create and provide intelligent and smart incentives to change the status quo. Most helpful would be financial relief from pension and health care obligations.
5. Why should people vote for you?
Codman: I am honored to serve the Village of Ossining. I want to be a good steward by maintaining the great services of our village but do it in a smart and cost-effective way. We have so much to be proud of and yet, I know, we have not reached our potential. I will work hard to make Ossining an even better place to live, raise our children and enjoy the great benefits of the Hudson River.
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