The village election season has begun, and Quaker Ridge resident Rochelle Waldman is one of three candidates running for three open seats on Scarsdale’s Board of Trustees.
The nonpartisan Citizens Nominating Committee named Waldman, 52, to its slate in January. She has resided in Scarsdale with her husband Joshua and three children for nearly 20 years.
“Over the years, we have enjoyed living in Scarsdale,” Waldman said. “We have taken advantage of many of the resources and amenities Scarsdale has to offer” — including swim lessons and the recreation department’s summer camp, as well as the public schools from kindergarten through high school.
Now, Waldman said, it is time to give back to the same community that gave so much to her.
Waldman has an M.D. from Albany Medical College and works part time in the field of sleep medicine at White Plains Hospital Center and New York Eye and Ear Infirmary.
She has volunteered within Scarsdale and Westchester with several organizations, including as an area chairman, a divisional chairman for UJA-Federation of New York, and is now a co-chairman of UJA’s Scarsdale Freebirds initiative. That initiative is for people who have older kids in the later high school years, or whose kids are away at college, and therefore have the time to engage in meaningful projects in the community.
Waldman has also been heavily involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the largest funder of Type 1 diabetes research.
“It’s an organization that is very close to my heart as my daughter has had Type 1 diabetes for the past eight years,” Waldman said. “I am also the advocacy team chairman, which has enabled me to travel to Washington, D.C., for the past four years to meet with senators and congressmen to talk about federal funding for Type 1 diabetes research.”
Waldman will be recognized in April for her work at a JDRF Westchester gala in Greenwich, which is themed Moms on a Mission.
For the foundation, in addition to advocacy and outreach, she has fundraised, coordinated walk teams and completed two 100-mile bike rides.
Closer to home, Waldman served on the Scarsdale Parks and Recreation Advisory Council for eight years until 2017. Her volunteer experience with the PRC board helped her to understand the workings of village government and how decisions are made.
“Through that capacity, I had the opportunity to meet many of the residents, work with village staff, meet many trustees over the years who served as liaisons to the PRC. I had a sneak peek into what the trustees do and how they take our issues back to the board as a whole and help serve the community in that way,” Waldman said.
As a longtime volunteer in the community, Waldman said she feels it’s time to give back even more by serving on the trustee dais and listening to residents.
Although her volunteer experience has focused on the parks and recreation part of village life, Waldman said she wants to help with all aspects of the village.
“I am looking forward to getting to know the greater community as a whole and meeting as many members of the community as possible and talking to as many people as I can to hear about the issues that bother them,” she said.
Such conversations, she said, can be brought back to the board to discuss further and to listen and make decisions that will improve the village for all residents.
To Waldman, being a trustee is about having an open mind.
“It’s important to listen to both the residents and my fellow trustees,” Waldman said. “I think we all have to learn how to compromise and come to a consensus that serves the community as a whole the best we can.”
Consensus is something Waldman sees will be important.
“I haven’t sat at the table yet,” she said. “And I haven’t addressed any of the issues with [other board members]. But I do think it’s important to arrive at a consensus on big issues that impact this village and that will have an impact on our community.”
Among the decisions the board of trustees will have to make in the future is the plan for redeveloping the Freightway garage site.
An ad hoc committee conducted surveys, data and information to come up with four options for the site. The options are currently being reviewed and discussed by the board and no final decisions have been made yet.
“The redevelopment of the Freightway site is a big issue affecting our village right now,” Waldman said. “I look forward to learning more about that project and hearing from the residents on what they want, how they can improve our village and downtown and help revitalize the downtown to make it a destination for residents and merchants.”
Listening to residents is just one of the ways Waldman would gather information. She said it’s equally important to talk to and listen to village staff and collaborate with fellow board members.
And, because of her experience with volunteering and collaborating, Waldman believes she’s ready to take that next step.
Her strengths come from “learning to work with people, learning to listen to people, learning to make hard decisions to move forward with one project or another and how to prioritize what’s important,” she said, and she will rely on her “ability to talk to people, listen to people and to hopefully come to the right conclusion for what seems to make the most sense and will benefit the most people.”