Dobbs Ferry, New York 10522, October 30, 2006
The annual Candidates’ Debate was hosted by the League of Women Voters last night at the Embassy Center. Six candidates for the office of Village Trustee squared off in a raucous, not-holds-barred verbal firefight. As the bulky black microphone was passed from quivering hand to quivering hand the battlelines were drawn; on one side, the incumbent Dobbs Ferry Party, a self-selected clique of Republicans, independents and turncoat Democrats and on the other side, the notoriously devisive and partisan Democrats.
This year the Republican incumbents were fighting for their lives as the demographics continue to tilt toward the Democratic majority. Plus by cunning referendum a non-partisan group had succeeded in moving the election to November. This put the sham Dobbs Ferry Party on Line I next to the Socialist Party. Only Frank Farrington had the courage to appear on Line A as a Republican candidate.
The debate revolved around the Village’s most recent real estate development controversy. The Dutch-owned Ahold Corporation, owner of the Stop & Shop supermarket wants to build a Super Stop & Shop ‘box’ store. Owning property on both sides of tiny Esterwood Avenue, Ahold wants the Village to deed them the street. The Dobbs Ferry Party incumbents want to keep the Village’s options open and cut the best possible deal for the Village with the developer. The three Democrats, David Koenigsberg, Laurence Dengler and Scott Seskin, who all happen to be trial lawyers, firmly and unwaiveringly drew the party line at giving public property to a private enterprise. Each side accused the other of demogoguery and fear mongering; of raising the specter of traffic to scare the populace into action or inaction. Republican incumbent Ms. Kay reassured the audience that in closed executive session the ethics of any deal would be vigorously vetted with the extremely well-connected Republican village attorney.
Other issues that came before the debatees were renewable energy, the new $5.6M Department of Public Works, affordable housing, open space, use of local contractors, downtown improvement and pedestrian zones.
The most reasoned commentary on most issues was provided by Hartley Connett, an incumbent independent, who struggled to control his rage at the viciousness of the carefully barbed questions.
The most delicious part of the night was the closing statements. One candidate invoked his dying mother. Another recalled the wisdom of a deceased Trustee. One Republican incumbent commented that she had turned down the invitation to run on the Democrat’s morally bankrupt ticket. All three Democrat trial lawyers thanked the audience for their excellent and insightful questions with toothy smiles.
All-in-all, the night was a complete success and a hell of a lot safer than being on a street corner in Baghdad or Kabul.
Everyone went home to their insolated houses, excellent police protection, superb garage collection, plentiful running water, odorless waste treatment, world-class schools, generous senior programs, affordable town camp, championship football and the Halloween Parade down Main Street the next day.