Meet Patricia Sullivan-Rothberg, Candidate for Town Council

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.

Posted in Patricia Sullivan-Rothberg.