Local Representation for North Castle Neighborhoods
Understanding the Ward System – Frequently Asked Questions
Neighborhood Representation on the North Castle Town Board will make Town Government more accessible and accountable.
A special election considering Neighborhood
Representation on the Town Board will be held on Thursday, November 13, 2014.
Propositions to convert Town Council elections to the Ward System and to increase Councilpersons to six from four will provide a more representative system for North Castle citizens.
What is the Ward System Proposal?
Quite simply, it is changing the way we elect Board Members from town wide elections, to elections based on districts built around neighborhoods. It is also proposed to increase the number of Councilpersons from four to six to allow more direct representation of the many neighborhoods in the town. No other aspect of Town government changes.
Why do we need a change?
The current system allows one area of Town to dominate the election process leaving other parts of town underrepresented.
There is no geographic diversity on the Town Board. In recent memory, there has not been a council member from North White Plains, the Middle Patent or Banksville areas. Other neighborhoods such as Windmill and Whippoorwill have had to rely on Neighborhood Associations to be heard.
Currently the all Town Board Members live, on average, one mile from the Town Hall and this has been the case for decades. The Armonk centric Board does not understand the needs of the many neighborhoods in the Town. The ward system will provide elected neighborhood representation and will assure your neighborhood has representation on the Board.
Why is this a problem? Our town spans a large area with highly diverse communities. Different geographies – urban, suburban and rural; different age and economic profiles – middle class, professional, new families, retirees; different school districts – Byram Hills, Valhalla, Bedford, Harrison, Mt. Pleasant.
Almost 10% of active voters in North Castle signed the Petitions calling for the referendum. They and many more believe that the Town Board structurally “didn’t get it” and would not until there was a reform in the system.
How will this benefit Your Neighborhood?
Your neighborhood will have someone on the Board who understands your needs; will be from your neighborhood; and is accountable to you.
The change to the Ward System will also bring the Town Board back to standard two year terms instead of the current four year. This will increase the accountability of councilpersons.
Will we lose influence by voting for our own Councilperson?
You will gain influence. The current political environment in North Castle is dominated by factions and parties, not by neighborhoods where the need for services reside.
Current Councilpersons are accountable only to the biggest blocs of votes, not to every neighborhood. A dedicated councilperson will be your representative and and will have a seat at the table.
Without a representative system 51% gets 100% control and 0% for the rest. That is why we need representative government.
In North Castle you will gain representative government. You will vote for your councilperson, the Supervisor, the Town Clerk and Tax Receiver.
Why increase the number of Board members?
North Castle is spread over a large and diverse geography with numerous distinct neighborhoods. Six councilpersons are necessary to create districts built around key neighborhoods
Will there be enough candidates?
More than enough. The Ward System dramatically lowers the barriers to running for office. Candidates will no longer have to rely on The Democrat or Republican Political Parties to effectively launch a campaign.
THAT IS WHY THE PARTY COMMITTEES ARE OPPOSING IT!
Candidates need only compete in their neighborhood rather than Town wide, making campaigns closer the the voters, lower cost and easier to conduct.
We currently have four Councilpersons in an area which would be the equivalent size of one ward. Those councilpersons are arguing that we could not get one “qualified” candidate from each of the other proposed 6 areas.
Will this Cost the Town More?
It should cost less, not more. A change in the Board system is an opportunity to adjust Board compensation from $18,000 per year plus benefits to perhaps $10,000 like New Castle or $0 like Scarsdale. The cost is totally up to the Board and can be reduced substantially.
Will the Ward System create divisiveness on the Board?
Current Board members are arguing that it is now peaceful on the Board and that the Ward System would create divisiveness.
They are somehow assuming that the current set of councilpersons, who live on average just a mile from Town Hall, can work together responsibly, but representatives from other parts of Town cannot. A Board from all parts of town is not divisive. It is representative. The implication that a representative from currently unrepresentative neighborhoods could not work constructively on the Board is insulting.
We can be sure that Town Board members will have the wisdom to work together for the benefit of the whole town. Having geographic diversity on the Board will help them to make better decisions. Some disagreements on the Board may be a good thing.
How will districts be drawn?
Under the law, districts must be made up of approximately the same population. The petitioners are proposing six districts built around major neighborhoods in Town. The exact boundaries will be established by the Westchester Board of Elections. The Town and the public will have input into the final boundaries.
Who Supports Neighborhood Representations?
Some councilpersons contend that the ward system is a “solution in search of a problem”. Almost 10% of North Castle active voters signed the petition supporting neighborhood representation via the ward system. They think there is a problem. These petitioners came heavily from neighborhoods which do not feel represented by the current system.
PLEASE JOIN US TO FIGHT FOR NEIGHBORHOOD REPRESENTATION – FORWARD THIS TO A FRIEND.
VOTE ON NOVEMBER 13 FOR BOTH OF THE WARD SYSTEM PROPOSALS.
Informed Citizens | firstname.lastname@example.org | Informed Citizens 2014 | Box 59 | Valhalla, NY 10595