Hartsdale resident Eric Zinger fell short Feb. 19 at the Greenburgh Democratic Convention, as current council members Kevin Morgan and Ken Jones secured the nominations once again.
Jones received 65 percent of the total votes cast, Morgan 54 percent, and Zinger clinched 45 percent.
Although the incumbents won quite comfortably, Zinger outperformed both in the unincorporated areas of Greenburgh.
Each Edgemont district leader who cast a vote, cast a vote for Zinger. In fact, each of those Edgemont district leaders voted for Zinger and only for Zinger, abstaining from casting a vote for either Jones or Morgan.
In East Hartsdale, six out of the 10 district leaders who voted cast their vote for Zinger. In West Hartsdale two out of the four district leaders voted only for Zinger, and the other two abstained from voting for any of the three candidates.
Zinger told the Inquirer Feb. 27 he is working to organize a petition to get on the ballot for the June primary.
That task became slightly easier Feb. 20 after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law legislation requiring 25 percent fewer signatures than in past elections for candidates to get on the ballot for public office.
For Zinger to get a seat on the town council, he will have to get significant support from residents in Greenburgh’s six villages.
Morgan and Jones, who have served on the town council for 12 years and eight years respectively, have been able to keep their seats on the board thanks to village support.
“The differential between the unincorporated and village district leaders’ vote really caught me by surprise, and I can only speculate as to its reasons,” said Hartsdale resident Dan Weinfeld, a district leader in East Hartsdale. “I’m guessing village district leaders don’t focus much on town board issues — they have their own village mayors and boards — and consequently have little reason to question the status quo.”
He continued, “In addition, name recognition is probably an issue — if you pay attention to town issues and attend town board meetings, et cetra, then you’ll know Eric’s name.”
Greenburgh residents have seen similar results in the past. Edgemont resident Bob Bernstein ran against Town Supervisor Paul Feiner in 2013 and saw favorable results in Edgemont. However, in the rest of Greenburgh, Feiner received an overwhelming amount of votes.
Feiner again went unchallenged at the convention Feb. 19.
Edgemont residents have previously told the Inquirer they believe Feiner has faced few challengers over the year due to the difficulty of garnering support in the six villages. However, Feiner looks at the situation differently.
“I think most people appreciate the fact that the town is well run,” he told the Inquirer. “We have a Triple-A bond rating, have stayed under the tax cap since the tax cap was approved by the state, our services are outstanding and we respond to every complaint — no matter how big or small.”
He added, “How many other governments anywhere make house calls to anyone who has a problem?”
Feiner suggested he may propose expanding the town board from five members to seven members. According to state law, a town can make that change without interference from the state.
“Adding two additional, newly elected members would allow the town board to increase diversity in many areas and would hopefully allow individuals representing previously unrepresented areas in Greenburgh to become active voices in the town’s future planning,” Feiner said.
This line of thinking runs congruently with Feiner’s recent message of more representation and inclusion of local residents in town decisions.
The town supervisor has recently incorporated the use of local land use advisory committees to comment on land use projects and potentially review request for proposals — RFPs — for land use consultants.
“This experience underscores the importance of greater representation and highlights the benefit of having an active, participating community,” Feiner said.
The caucus members Feb. 19 did not nominate Greenburgh Town Clerk Judith Beville for another term as town clerk, but gave the nod to Maria Portilla instead. Portilla received 62 percent of all votes cast and Beville received 31 percent. Six percent of voters abstained.
Beville was at the center of controversy last year when she accused the town board of meddling in her department’s affairs and creating an uncomfortable work environment.
The controversy came after one of Beville’s employees claimed working in the town clerk’s office was becoming too stressful and brought her concerns to members of the town board.
Like Zinger, Beville wants to continue her campaign despite her loss at the convention. “I will pursue re-election as I am passionate about my commitment to serving the public in this capacity while continuing to elevate the clerk’s office as a resource-rich ‘go to’ location within local government,” Beville said.