Election 2020

Chappaqua Resident, Scientist Makes First Bid for New Castle Town Board

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New Castle Lori Morton
Lori Morton

It was the logical next step for Lori Morton to run for New Castle Town Board.

The 15-year Chappaqua resident has gradually increased her involvement in the community during the past decade, volunteering for the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival and the PTA STEM Committee before contributing her time to the New Castle Democratic Committee.

Morton believes her background in science can give the board a bit of a different perspective.

“I really felt like this was the next step,” said Morton, vice president of research at Regeneron, where she has worked for 18 years. “I feel like I have something to contribute to the discussion and a perspective and a way of thinking that I have to offer that is perhaps unique from other people.”

While Morton is the lone candidate on the ballot in the special election to serve the remaining year of Supervisor Ivy Pool’s Town Board seat, a write-in candidate, Thomas O’Connor surfaced last week. O’Connor decided to jump in after there has been increasingly tense opposition to the town’s proposed Form Based Code.

If Morton emerges from the suddenly contested election, the Form Based Code is likely to be the most prominent issue once she is seated on the board. The code is meant to help officials make downtown Chappaqua more vibrant by de-emphasizing uses and stressing appearance with the goal of having more people live and work in the hamlet.

She said an exciting aspect of the code is that it provides the community an opportunity to map out the future and choose a design for downtown Chappaqua that is desirable. Morton is hopeful there will be evolution during the process to work out various issues and help the town address the issues it wants to solve.

“One of the things I like about the concept of Form Based Code is that it allows the municipality to determine all these things up front so that a developer is bound by them and it puts the town, I think, in a starting position of power rather than being reactive over individual proposals,” Morton said.

The goal, according to Morton, is for the Town Board to arrive at an agreeable final form that addresses the public’s concerns. Currently, two issues that have produced the most outcry have focused on the potential height of buildings that could be developed in the future and how many school-age children any mixed-use development would generate.

“I think they are doing exactly what they should be doing, which is listening to the public and collecting the perspectives of people who are supportive and critical of the plan and hopefully taking that information to inform the next draft,” Morton said.

Morton said she hopes that New Castle can be a community that can be attractive for people of any age and not only for families with school-age children.

She applauds the work that the Council on Race and Equity and the many community volunteers who are engaged into make New Castle a more welcoming, inclusive and diverse community. Morton said she looks forward to seeing some of the council’s recommendations put into action.

An issue of importance to Morton is the restoration of greenspace throughout the town. Preserving greenspace for both Chappaqua and Millwood is critical along with adding to the town’s inventory.

Morton said she will likely run for a full four-year term next year. The fact that next week’s special election is only to serve one year didn’t cause her to hesitate.

“It was just an opportunity to jump in because I intended on jumping in so there’s no reason to wait,” Morton said.

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