Hosted by Jen & Otis Brown
August 4th 5:00 – 8:00PM
RSVP firstname.lastname@example.org for address
Hosted by Jen & Otis Brown
August 4th 5:00 – 8:00PM
RSVP email@example.com for address
5:30 to 7:30
345 Kear Street
RSVP to GilbertRSVP2019@gmail.com
First things first: What does the Town Clerk do?
My office deals with the nuts and bolts of daily life for the people of Yorktown. We’re an efficient, smooth-running department with a wonderful, knowledgeable team who are devoted to the residents of our community. We work directly for the citizens of this town and that mission is clear in everything we do.
If you’re re-elected, it would be your second term as Town Clerk. What have you done so far that you’re most proud of?
I’m proud of making our work more available to more people, in a variety of ways. We’ve finally put the town’s official documents online, making them more secure and accessible. Our office now accepts credit card payments. We’ve automated work where possible, making it more convenient for our residents and more cost effective for our town.
We’ve also made our office more accessible to some of our seniors and disabled residents by creating a Mobile Town Clerk’s Office, which brings our office out to the community. Some people have difficulty coming into our regular office, so we go out to them at Jefferson Village and the Nutrition/Senior Services Center. More locations will be added soon.
There are more initiatives, as well:
What made you decide to run for a second term?
In January 2003, I became the Deputy Town Clerk in the Town of Yorktown and had the honor of working with and learning from Alice Roker, the former Town Clerk. In 2016, I was honored and humbled to be elected Town Clerk and have loved every minute of the past four years. I have met many wonderful people and have enjoyed helping others over the past 20 years of my public service career. I decided to run for a second term as Yorktown Town Clerk because I have more initiatives that I would like to see implemented in our community.
Professionally, I’ve continued to improve my skills and connections: I’ve achieved designations as a New York State Registered Municipal Clerk and an International Certified Municipal Clerk. I’ve forged relationships with other clerks all over the state.
Did any particularly interesting stories come out of your first term?
In 2017, our museum team found a record book up for auction that had to do with the communities of Yorktown, Cortlandt, and Somers. At the time, we did not have any idea of just how important this record was to the town and its history. I contacted the Manhattan auction house handling the sale and asked for this book to be returned to the town. The auction house contacted the person who owned the book, and she agreed to let the town have it back for free.
This book was the oldest record of the town! It begins in 1760, and it’s called the Book of Highways. As we move forward, I will be placing more historical documents like this one on the Town Clerk’s website so that everyone can enjoy the rich history of our community.
What do you enjoy about Yorktown and how do you plan to make it better?
I most enjoy the sense of community and spirit of volunteerism that exists here. I am always amazed at how much our residents are willing to give to a group in need. We have a wonderful cross-section of all ages, and I am always pleased by the interaction I have with them. Our older residents remind me to honor our history; our younger residents remind me of the wonderful future we have ahead of us in Yorktown.
I am humbled and honored to serve as Town Clerk, and I hope to continue to serve in a second term.
Tell us the story of how you came to Yorktown.
Twenty-five years ago, my husband and I were looking for a community where we could raise our family. We lived farther south at the time, but we’d always come to Yorktown to go to a restaurant called Huckleberry’s and to go shopping and it stuck in our heads as a great place to live. We found a solid, affordable house where we could raise our children [now 26 and 23], in the Lakeland School District which attracted us because of its strong reputation, size and diversity. It made sense for us to set down roots here.
What do you do for a living?
I’m an attorney and I practiced law for 34 years. I’m not currently working as a lawyer, but my legal experience comes in very handy in the work I’m now doing as Deputy Commissioner of the Probation Department. It’s a community supervision organization that works to both hold offenders accountable and help them address underlying factors, such as drug addiction, in order to help them make better choices, reduce recidivism and thereby further public safety.
How would that inform your work on the Town Board?
Over my entire career, I’ve spent a lot of time listening to people and also researching, seeing how seemingly different issues are related, working together and finding common ground in order to get the job done. I know how to identify problems, cut through red tape and I know how to find solutions. I appreciate the importance of transparency, fiscal responsibility, creating workable budgets and building partnerships between institutions, and I would bring that expertise as well.
I also have to distill complicated issues into an understandable form for many different audiences. In the courtroom, you have to speak to many people at once—a judge, other lawyers, clients, their families, spectators and jurors—and that’s a skill that would be valuable in town government.
What issues would you target if elected?
I want to attract more businesses here, and I want to think creatively about who can really help us do that so that we both increase our tax base and plan a robust future for our town. There are lots of wonderful, engaged young people here, and many of them are very attuned to the needs of our community; I would love to create a partnership with young people to look to the future about businesses in the town, as well as our stewardship of the environment.
I see a town that’s rich in assets, like the bike trails, Turkey Mountain, the theater in town, successful working farms, beautiful open space—and we need to figure out how to link them together, build on them and create an economy around them that generates revenue and prepares Yorktown for the future.
I would also focus on mental illness and addiction—things I address in my work every day, and issues that affect many of our neighbors. There’s a lot of work to do to destigmatize and support individuals, families and our first responders, especially our police department in the fight to restore people in our town to good health and productivity. And, I want to engage young people in the political process and listen to their ideas. I think it’s a responsibility of local government to get that in motion.
What other responsibilities do you think local government should take on?
Town government is about quality of life, making plans for the future, and finding ways to make life better for our residents and attract new ones. I do not view it as a forum to discuss larger philosophical and moral issues. Government has enough trouble with credibility without elected officials using it as a platform to advance their own personal agendas.
And I believe that the truth is really important. Oversimplifying or mischaracterizing issues to gain political or personal advantage shouldn’t work in relationships between people, and it absolutely should not be tolerated from elected officials. They have an obligation to be honest with you, and I guarantee I will do that.
Anything else you’d like to add? I am really hoping to see more women in government. I’ve been in leadership roles for many years, and increasingly, I think we’re all coming to realize something we women have known for a long time: Women are very hard working, and we do not quit, because we CAN’T quit. We plow through any number of obstacles to get the job done. We bring a more collaborative approach to solving problems, and every branch of government could benefit from that — including, especially, our Town Board.
Let’s start with something unusual: What’s something about you that would surprise people?
Well, I’m brutally honest, so I sometimes say things I shouldn’t. I can’t lie. Isn’t that a terrible quality in someone who’s running for office?
Not at all! But why are you running for Town Board?
I feel deeply connected to Yorktown, and I’ve dedicated a lot of time and energy to volunteering for the PTA and the Boy Scouts here. We moved here 15 years ago, largely because it was affordable. And I love the history of this town. I live in a pre-Revolutionary War house that was once owned by a Town Supervisor, Ebenezer White, who met with George Washington when he came through this area.
Professionally, I’m the national outreach director for a documentary film distribution company. My job is to build community and audience. I help put people together. That’s very important in leadership; you’re trying to connect the right people, and I’d like to use that skill in service to our town.
What’s your vision for Yorktown’s future?
I believe we need to create experiences for people. Stores are very important, but I’m not just talking about shopping — Amazon has shown us that retail can change so quickly. I want to think about, how can we make this a place where people come to DO things?
Jacob Burns Film Center is a great example of a destination. That building was falling apart, until someone who had a clear vision brought the theater in as a 501(c)(3). And now people come from all over to one of the best art houses in the country, and it’s transformed that downtown area into a vibrant place for businesses to thrive and money to be generated. No one had to lie down at the feet of a developer to get it done, either.
If someone had said 20 years ago that there would be a huge money-generating art house cinema in the center of Pleasantville, everyone would have said no way — but here it is! You have to plant the seeds for these kinds of experiential places to grow.
What kind of experiences would you envision in Yorktown?
We have so many natural resources here, it’s hard to choose just one. But definitely something that would showcase our wonderful working farms here, growing produce and making maple syrup and fresh sausage, and so much more. Maybe we need a centralized farmer’s market, or a distribution center where those goods can be sold; maybe we need a farm-to-table experience for families where they could connect with where their food came from.
There’s also so much more we could showcase: our hiking and biking trails like the North Country Trail and Turkey Mountain; our open spaces; our historical roots. There’s so much here.
What about more businesses?
I absolutely want to bring more businesses into town, and I want them to be 21st-century businesses — meaning, if we bring in a hotel, maybe it’s a green hotel. If we work on the arts center to help it thrive, let’s include our historical assets to create a museum or a broader cultural experience.
We actually have a great new example right now: Goldfish Swim Center, which went into the Triangle Shopping Center during [current Supervisor] Lanny Gilbert’s tenure. Think how much additional business is coming to that mall just from the additional traffic of young families who are drawn to Yorktown for that experience.
Do you have any other vision for Yorktown?
I envision a much stronger infrastructure than we currently have. I believe you really have to pay attention to the basics.
The [previous] Grace administration ignored that until things basically fell apart. The retaining wall at Mohegan Lake is a perfect example—that would have been so much cheaper and less of a disruption if you’d actually maintained it before it fell apart.
Lanny Gilbert is in the process of addressing this kind of maintenance. It’s not sexy to fix a roof, but hey, any homeowner knows that you have to balance maintenance with bigger, flashier projects.
What else informs your desire to serve on the Board?
My work with the PTA and the Boy Scouts. I’ve met such a huge variety of people through these groups, and I love hearing what’s important to them, what they’re concerned about.
As I said, I never thought I’d run for political office. But I was very disappointed with the Grace administration, and I was very worried for our collective future. When Lanny Gilbert was elected, I thought, great, finally, this town is going to be run for the benefit of ALL the people in Yorktown, and not the people lining their own pockets.
When I saw these two seats coming up for election this year, I thought, ‘This kind of leadership lines up with how I’d like to contribute, and I really don’t want our town to slip back into the Grace mentality.’ But I didn’t jump into the race as a reaction. I did it because I love building community, and I believe I’m good at it. Now, our town is run by someone I can really work with, so let me use my skills to help our town work even better.
May 18 3 to 6PM
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday May 21 6 to 8PM
Alex’s Lounge, 213 East Post Road, White Plains
Buy tickets at vedatgashi.com/may21