Samwick seeks seat on dais as mayor

Marc Samwick, who served as village trustee from 2014 until 2018, is ready to return to the dais.

This time as mayor.

“There’s a lot going on in the village, and there’s a real opportunity to have an impact and make a difference in a positive way,” Samwick, 55, said. “We have very high standards in our community. And upholding those standards takes a lot of dedicated effort on a lot of people’s parts.”

Looking back, Samwick said he had quite a bit to be proud of from his tenure on the board — the $20 million library renovation project, for example, which required a collaborative effort by so many in village hall and the community.

“You saw so many people galvanized around this exciting project,” he said. “That’s something the community will benefit from for decades to come.”

Samwick recalled the discussions about the size of the project, and working alongside the library board, the Capital Campaign Committee and the building committee to find a solution that worked for everyone and to achieve the optimal scenario, while hitting a budgetary goal.

The result, Samwick said, is a project that is going to be transformative for the village as a social hub that’s representative of Scarsdale.

“It focuses on a lot of the positives that we have, education, coming together as a community,” he said. “All of that is embodied in the library.”

In addition to the library renovation, there’s another major transformation on the horizon — the Freightway redevelopment.

“We recognized that Freightway, which has been an eyesore for a very long time, is going to require about $2.5 million of capital expenditure over the next few years,” he said. Considering options for the site, “We looked at the success of Christie Place,” he said.

Christie Place was originally slated to be only a parking garage, but was reimagined to become condominiums, in addition to the parking garage.

“It’s really a phenomenal asset to the community where we have people living in the village center,” Samwick said. “We have stores and we have restaurants that are frequented by people, and you also have a lot of parking near the train station. We have the ability to replicate that type of community asset, but bring it to another level.”

Samwick said the Freightway redevelopment is an opportunity to have more connectivity on both sides of the railroad tracks, to have a more cohesive village center, and to create some public space with parking delivered in a way that provides residents with future flexibility as technology and needs change.

And, if the final design includes residential units, having even more people living downtown would mean more foot traffic in the central business district.

It’s a project Samwick started working on as a trustee, and he’s looking forward to continuing that effort as mayor.

“One of the real focal points of Freightway was community input and involvement,” he said.

Putting together a steering committee and involving community members with surveys, meetings and group discussions were among the ways the village government communicated with residents about the project.

Being a member of a board that invited community collaboration and involvement gave Samwick a new perspective on and appreciation for how village government works.

“One of the things that was very interesting to me early on in my work as a trustee was the process and the pace at which things happened. Coming from the private sector, I was a little surprised [by] the deliberate nature of how decisions are made,” he said.

He also came to “understand and appreciate the fact that we have a village here that runs phenomenally well,” he said. “We’ve had a nonpartisan political system that has worked well … our village is really the envy of many other communities in the area.”

Samwick recognized the success and progress of the village didn’t happen overnight.

“[It] takes a lot of effort and time to build up [which is] reflected in our Triple A credit rating,” he said. “Change should be done in a very thoughtful way, and oftentimes in an incremental way.”

Although business endeavors typically are done in an expedited manner, village governance is the total opposite.

“We have to be very thoughtful and careful about how we make changes to something that works really well; really think every step of the way, and a big part of that is listening” to the community, staff and other board members. Listening helps to build consensus, which Samwick said is a vital part of the fabric of Scarsdale and its government.

“Consensus building can be confused with groupthink,” he said. “but consensus building is hard, it means you’re listening to all the different constituents and you’re hearing their concerns, their ideas, and trying to synthesize that into something that works best within the confines of what you have,” which in his view leads to better outcomes.

As mayor, Samwick said he wants to see a less formal means of communication between residents and elected officials to create even more dialogue, and he wants to make things as transparent as possible. He said he believes his background in finance and real estate has been valuable, and can serve positively for the community.

Since completing two terms as a trustee in 2017, Samwick has become an empty nester with his wife, Cynthia. Their youngest son, George, just started college, and their other two sons are living in the city.

In the past two years, he served on the building committee of the library, helping to keep the construction process on time and on target as much as possible.

And his reason for returning to the dais is simple.

“It’s an opportunity,” he said.

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