1. Why did you decide to be a candidate for Village Board Trustee?
I love the Village of Sea Cliff. I deeply appreciate its charm, its friendly and neighborly welcome, and the spirit of volunteerism and caring that this community embodies. I love that the Sea Cliff Civic Association welcomes new neighbors, and I love that we have not only a beautifully renovated Children's Library, but also the resources and kind advice of the Adult Library. This village is where I have enjoyed summer evenings listening to music at the Sea Cliff Beach. And this village is also where my neighbors and I call each other to make sure that we are healthy and whole during and after nor'easters. It is unique and wonderful, and I am proud to be a resident since 2009.
I decided to run for Village Trustee because I have the time and energy to dedicate to public service at this time in my life; I have the skills needed to improve our governing practices; and because I want my daughter, a third-generation Sea Cliffian, and all residents of our village to continue to be able to appreciate this special place.
When I heard that Terryl Donovan is also running, I was thrilled. We believe in the same good government principles, and together, with our complementary expertise, we can help steer our village towards policies and procedures needed for greater openness and transparency.
2. What skills or experience do you bring to the position?
Sea Cliff is a village of diverse needs and points of view. This diversity can be our strength if we build consensus; organize and plan for the future; and implement critical infrastructure and technology. This means that we need Village Trustees who can determine the needs of the village not through guesswork or intuition, but by eagerly eliciting the opinions and concerns of our neighbors. They speak to a person with the skill and experience to balance diverse perspectives so that the outcome is the right one for the village, not the expedient one, or the one that is right for just a particular group. And when mistakes or miscalculations happen, as they do in any administration, we need someone with the right disposition and training to hear and respond positively to criticism.
The last twenty years of my professional career have been spent learning and actively practicing these very skills and responsibilities starting at Goldman Sachs, TIAA-CREF, Lehman Brothers, The New York Times and currently at Teach For America, where I am the Senior Managing Director of Data Platform. Information Technology has changed significantly in the last 10 years. It no longer means a sole decision maker or developer coding alone in a cubicle. IT stands for innovating together; I recognize that the only path to success is the one in collaboration with our partners and stakeholders in the work. To be successful, I actively build relationships, listen carefully to diverse perspectives and work to bridge gaps. I am open to feedback and am willing to change course when appropriate. And as a budget owner at Teach For America, I am responsible for finding creative ways to deliver more, better, and faster while reducing spend.
These are the skills I bring from my professional work experience, and I believe they are the skills critically needed on the Board.
3. What do you see as the two or three most important challenges or issues facing the Village? What do you believe the Village government could or should do in addressing those issues or challenges?
One of the most important challenges the Village faces is diminished confidence in how Sea Cliff is governed. While not possible to rectify overnight, there are commonsense actions and processes we can put in place to change course. Terryl Donovan and I both agree that transforming our processes by setting expectations for openness and transparency is key, whether it be engaging with the Village Board or any other of our Village Services. This includes encouraging greater participation by radiating information out about the issues facing our village and actively pursuing feedback; strategic planning like establishing a comprehensive 5-year plan based on open dialogue with residents, committees, and experts in this field; and critically, holding ourselves accountable to those plans and priorities. In this day and age, our website should be the obvious first step to easily engaging with the Village Government. As I resident I should be able to use it to apply for everything from zoning permits to positions on Village Boards and Committees. I should be able to use it to sign up for Senior Programs or a permit to park at the Beach. And I should be able to use it to submit feedback when things in the Village aren't going as they should.
Another critical challenge we face is mounting environmental and traffic pressure from continued development in neighboring communities, like the 1,100 new units planned for Garvies Point in the City of Glen Cove. How we chose to engage the City of Glen Cove will be pivotal in whether our needs are steamrolled or ultimately safeguarded. We must work closely with the new Glen Cove Mayor, Tim Tenke, and his administration to share and understand priorities. We must continue to work through the right legal channels to protect our interests. And when it comes to the mounting pollution and traffic, we must put real and consistent pressure on Nassau County to make positive changes in both wastewater management and options for public transportation.
4. What does Village Government do well? What, if anything, could the Village government do better?
The Village Government is full of committed, talented volunteers and employees. These individuals ensure that we take advantage of Federal and State grant opportunities, like those won to install sewer lines. They work hard to answer resident's questions and concerns over the phone and in person. They are meticulous in their bookkeeping and keep our budget fiscally responsible and in control. They ensure that the Village retains its charming tree-lined streets and a beautiful beach. I am thankful for their efforts and dedication to their responsibilities.
And all organizations can do better. Some of the ways we can do better in Sea Cliff include upgrading our technology to more efficiently and transparently meet the needs of residents. We can streamline laborious processes for those working in Village Hall. And we can improve the transparency of our budgeting, so that any interested constituent can know exactly where their tax money is being spent. Participation is the key to good government and these are some of the ways we can encourage it.
5. Are there any new proposals you would make as a Village Trustee? If so, what?
While not new, there is no doubt that Terryl and I would work closely with Deb McDermott to realize her proposal for a community center and a 5-year plan driven by community feedback. And because I, and many others in this community, feel strongly that we need to protect our fragile environment, I would also propose starting the process for an Energy Performance Contract, which could significantly increase our energy and water efficiency without increasing our budget. I feel positive that others in the community would support this type of proposal and be interested in working on the efforts required for its success.
6. What do you believe are the characteristics of a great trustee?
First and most importantly a genuine love of the Village of Sea Cliff, and eagerness to learn from, listen to, and serve its residents. And also:
Proven record of leadership and financial acumen
Enthusiasm for the practices of good government, like transparency and accountability at all levels
Willingness to accept critical feedback, including learning from and acknowledging mistakes
Healthy and respectful engagement with fellow Trustees, so that the best decisions can be made for the Village