Voters in this election in Mount Kisco, Bedford and all the communities that comprise District 2 on the county Board of Legislators are fortunate.
There should be a level of comfort that regardless of the outcome of next week’s race between Democrat Karen Schleimer and Republican Francis Corcoran, constituents will have a representative with a strong and distinguished public service record over an extended period of time.
That’s also a good thing because for seven-and-half years Peter Harckham served the district exceedingly well, and with his departure, his successor will have high standards to live up to.
Since the 1980s, it seems Schleimer has been involved with almost every board or committee in Mount Kisco. She has served on the planning board, zoning board, village board, master plan and zoning review commission, finance and water quality committees and library foundation director. She has also been a passionate advocate on issues related to senior citizens.
In addition to all that, she was village prosecutor at one time. Then there’s her long legal career, where for the past 31 years she has had her own practice with a focus on business, real estate and land use.
Meanwhile, Corcoran has spent the past 13 years on the Bedford Town Board. Along with his town board service, most of his professional life has been in the financial industry. He was appointed to unpaid positions to work on financial-related issues, including chairman of the inspector general’s office for the MTA, serving under four governors, both Democratic and Republican.
Voters can only choose one of the candidates and as hard as it may be to split them apart – unless you happen to be a rabid partisan – the call by the narrowest of margins goes to Corcoran.
Although there have been improvements over the past two years, there are periods when bipartisanship in White Plains can be in short supply. Corcoran has served on split boards in Bedford and while there will always be disagreements, he has managed to deftly navigate those potential political pitfalls.
During his tenure, Bedford has maintained a AAA bond rating, something that takes at least five board members and staff to accomplish, but he was one of them.
For a large portion of District 2, environmental matters are of supreme importance, particularly water and sewer issues. Corcoran also would advocate for alternative water treatment systems, which in areas of the district may become a necessity.
Aside from accomplishments in a well-functioning town, Corcoran said he could help the county aggressively pursue corporations to sell them on the advantages of Westchester and explore the feasibility of giving tax breaks to companies who provide their own child care.
He opposes borrowing to pay for operating expenses in the budget, a move that generated waves of criticism during last year’s deliberations.
The one area where Corcoran’s views should give pause is on the affordable housing issue. He parrots the Republican line regarding federal overreach. However, he also said he would try to work with the municipalities involved in the settlement that haven’t approved the model ordinance to sell them on some of the strategies Bedford has employed. From before the housing settlement, the town has been among the leaders in providing affordable and workforce units through the Blue Mountain Development Corporation.
Considering all of her professional and public service achievements, there is little negative to say about Schleimer. On a few occasions she has been the dissenting vote on the village board; one of the more recent times was opposing the community choice aggregation program because all of the details weren’t made public before the vote.
Her work on senior issues with the Livable Communities Council and the Northern Westchester Geriatric Committee will only become more important over time.
The only substantive gap between the two candidates was the appearance that Schleimer was not as well-versed on several county issues as her opponent. This year that becomes more critical because the winner of this race will be seated as soon as the election is certified since Harckham resigned midyear.
All things considered, Corcoran is the best choice of two very strong options.”