Election Day is here and I am writing on behalf of current Trustee Jim Steinberg and his running mate, Jose “Joe” Gonzalez. When I was elected Mayor last year, I appointed Jim to my vacated Board seat. I felt he was the best person for the job then and I continue to feel that way now. Jim has proven himself to be an asset to this Village in many ways over the past year.
He established a “Welcome to Croton” packet that is mailed to new residents, opened up pertinent dialogue with AYSO and Little League, and regionally has forged relationships with legislators from the federal to town level. Joe Gonzalez will bring to the Village Board his wealth of business acumen and experience working with large budgets, this along with his willingness and eagerness to move Croton forward will serve the Board well. As true progressives Jim Steinberg and Joe Gonzalez will always represent you, the residents. I urge you to give them your vote today!
I am very proud of the Board’s accomplishments during my first year as Mayor: we reduced last year’s budget increase from 17% to under 10%; we completed ongoing projects such as the one in Harmon that eliminated brown water; we upgraded environmental laws to further protect the natural beauty of Croton; we expanded field space for AYSO and Little League players, we prioritized solving the decades old problem of flooding at the train station and we hired a new Village attorney who takes a pro-active and insightful approach to our Village’s legal matters.
Perhaps the most notable accomplishment, one that I take personal pride in, is the diversity of appointments I have made to the various Boards and Committees that help shape Croton. After careful consideration of all names suggested, I chose residents whose talents and experience would best serve the Village. I never once made an appointment based upon political affiliation. In fact, I reappointed my Mayoral opponent, Ann Gallelli, as chairwoman of the Planning Board, as she was the best suited person for that position at that time. This is a major change from previous years where Boards and Committees were a reflection of the majority on the Village Board. This inclusiveness is what makes Croton great.
Incidentally, Mrs. Gallelli is now seeking a Trustee position and quite frankly some of her comments over the past year, particularly now during the election season, have me concerned about her allegiance to the best interests of the Village. She has flip-flopped her stance on Metro-Enviro several times. She was one of the supporters of the original permit and she supported negotiating with them and their successors even when you, the Croton community, stated you wanted them shut down. More importantly she has been engaging in fear mongering regarding the costs and obligations of the Eminent Domain proposal. Her partisan attitude has not served this Village well. We have to continue moving forward toward a consensus that works best for all, not back to the tired politics of Ann Gallelli.
When I took the oath of Mayor last April, I promised that everyone’s ideas would be listened to, and that as a team we would work together to keep Croton great and work to make it better. I sat as a Trustee on the minority for four years and I always voted with the Village in mind, whether that meant I was voting with or against the majority.
Trustee Kane’s voting record for this past year shows a voting philosophy that reflects a purely partisan based ideology that is not in the best interest of the Village and certainly does not reflect a sense of team work. He has consistently stood against progress and good government; he voted against the budget and would not explain why; he voted against holding public hearings that would provide residents with information regarding Village projects and initiatives; and now he is speaking out against “advice of counsel” sessions, even though he knows these sessions are critical to protecting Croton’s legal interests. These actions are politically charged and do not embrace good government.
It is imperative that all members of the Village Board strive to work as a team. This doesn’t mean we have to agree all of the time, (in fact opposition is productive and good) it means we debate issues, listen open-mindedly to opposing views and ultimately come to a consensus that allows Croton to move forward.
Today, I urge you to return Jim Steinberg and elect Joe Gonzalez to the Village Board so that residents will have board members who understand the necessity of working together towards a common goal – keeping this great Village always moving forward.
Dr. Gregory J. Schmidt, Mayor, Village of Croton-on-Hudson, NY