In the wake of the Feb. 18 convention during which neither town supervisor candidate received the more than 50% of the vote necessary to be endorsed by the Greenburgh Democratic Committee, there will be a primary election on June 22.
Incumbent Paul Feiner, 65, now in his 15th term, is being opposed by 49-year-old Tasha Young of Tarrytown, who ran the office of a New York City Council member and worked for various social service agencies in Westchester. She would be Greenburgh’s first Black, female town supervisor.
Feiner and Young will have an online debate Monday, April 12, at 7 p.m. The event, sponsored by the Westchester Youth Congress, will include questions from the community. To submit questions, visit westchesteryouthcongress.org. The debate will be streamed live and then posted online to watch on demand.
In an interview last week, Feiner said he wasn’t surprised by the emergence of an opponent and would run on his record. “Experience counts,” he said. “I don’t really know where she stands on issues.”
Feiner graduated from St. John’s University School of Law in 1981 but, instead of joining the profession, he entered politics. In 1991, as a third-term county legislator, he unseated longtime Town Supervisor Anthony Veteran.
“I basically love the job and I feel like we’ve made an enormous positive difference,” Feiner said. Referring to the town program that recruited computer-savvy volunteers to help senior citizens schedule appointments for the coronavirus vaccine, he said, “Just in the past month we organized the ‘Covid Angels,’ which has got national attention.”
He added, “We had early voting and we’ve made the process easier by livestreaming the voting on our website, and having no lines for the frail elderly. We’ve done a lot in terms of pedestrian safety, bike paths, affordable housing and working with Sustainable Westchester on solarization.”
During the pandemic, Feiner pushed for legislation to give residents more time to pay their property taxes.
He also points to the fact that Greenburgh has kept property taxes level for the past two years, while maintaining the town’s AAA bond rating.
In the future, he said, “We’re going to be ‘broadbanding’ on lower-income housing, and have a recycling center where people could drop off furniture. I want to use technology; probably in the next month or so, [we’ll] have a computerized work order system so if people have complaints it can easily be done online. We’re constantly coming up with a lot of new ideas.”
Young, 49, grew up in Elmsford and now lives in Tarrytown. Until recently she was chief of staff to New York City Council member Laurie Cumbo, who represents 140,000 residents of Brooklyn.
“I’m a full-time candidate since February 24,” Young said.
As Cumbo’s director of land use and policy, “I learned what it really means to work with developers,” she said. “That transferable skill can go into how Greenburgh is planned and developed. My role was looking at each proposal for the greatest community benefit. I would have discussions with developers. In Greenburgh, you can negotiate for the biggest community benefit.”
Young is also on the adjunct faculty at the New York University Silver School of Social Work, where she teaches policy.
She was previously chief program officer at My Sisters’ Place, an agency in White Plains that supports victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. Prior to that she was the care management supervisor of the Elmsford-based North American Family Institute, a foster care agency, and was a clinical work therapist for Family Services of Westchester in Yonkers. She holds a B.A. in business administration from Fordham University and an M.A. in social work from Hunter College.
She believes Greenburgh needs what she calls “attainable housing” for its residents. “What I have experienced is there’s a migration of people who grow up in Greenburgh but can’t afford to stay here, whether it’s the taxes or rent. So there’s a demographic of 25- to 35-year-olds that leave and we don’t get them back. It’s so important to attract and keep 25- to 35-year olds, essential workers, or new teachers, new police, to afford to live in the places that they work.”
“I think we could do better,” Young explained. “I don’t think we should buy the excuse, ‘It can’t be done.’ I think we need someone with imagination and creativity to figure it out. Our children deserve better.”
Young envisions other opportunities. “I would like to see more transparency in how things are done, really involving the public prior to the decision, in enough time for the public to really understand what they’re asked to weigh in on.”
She would also like Greenburgh to have more buttoned-down procedures for responding to residents. “What I would like to see done is software — a secured site for constituents and residents to make their needs known, logged and assigned to the appropriate department to be followed up. And there would be a person to be sure it would be followed up.”
Alluding to Feiner’s practice of handling constituents’ pleas for help directly, Young said, “This is not a town of ‘Just Call Me.’ This is a town of 92,000 people. It’s not a one-man job. I think we could do that better.”