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Democrat Seeks to Crash All-GOP Mt. Pleasant Town Board

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Wayne McPartland is seeking to do what no other Democrat has done for a very long time – get elected to a council seat on the five-person, all-Republican Mount Pleasant Town Board.

McPartland is challenging incumbent Councilmen Mark Rubeo and Nicholas DiPaolo, who are running as a slate on the Republican, Conservative and Reform party lines.

Republican Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi is unopposed by the Democrats this fall.

Nicholas DiPaolo

DiPaolo, 37, is making his first run for public office. He was appointed to his seat earlier this year to succeed Fulgenzi, who became supervisor last fall, replacing Joan Maybury. The Hawthorne resident has been director of guidance for the past decade for the Mount Pleasant School District.

So far, DiPaolo’s experience on the board has been positive.

“I think we’re fortunate to have the makeup of the board that we have. We are very transparent in everything we do,” he said. “While there could be some disagreement, everyone is looking to get consensus. It’s a collaborative group.”

Prior to being appointed to the town board, DiPaolo was active in the community, a member of the Thornwood Lions Club and the Mount Pleasant Italian-American Club. He also acts as a service liaison for the Rotary Club and the Thornwood American Legion. As liaison, he strives to have students interact with the two organizations. He fulfills that same role for the school district, working to encourage students to be active in the community.

DiPaolo said he supported the town’s effort to seek state funds for downtown revitalization, which would include aesthetic improvements, such as lighting, plantings, façade upgrades and installation of new sidewalks.

The recent move of EF Academy, a boarding school for high school students on the old Legionaries property, has been very helpful to town merchants and has brought different cultures of students to Mount Pleasant, DiPaolo said.

“They’re wonderful neighbors,” he said. “I see nothing but positives.”

DiPaolo said the town board recently extended a commercial shopping zone down Columbus Avenue in an effort to increase business on the road. One of the new businesses he would like for the street would be a fresh produce market.

The town board is also working on a multiyear road improvement plan, DiPaolo said. It would be paid for through borrowing.

In response to the Feb. 3 accident at the Commerce Street railroad crossing in Valhalla that claimed six lives, the National Transportation Safety Board has asked the town to look at all of its crossings, DiPaolo said, and to devise recommendations. Town officials have toured other railroad crossings to see how they may be made safer, including building new roadways, he said.

DiPaolo said the town is looking to enhance its recreation programs, such as adding additional fields and an indoor pool, but grants and savings would be needed to fund the proposals. The town is also exploring installation of solar panels on town government buildings and adding smart water meters.

DiPaolo said the town needed new housing for seniors who want to downsize, but not leave Mount Pleasant.

Having a Democratic opponent this year is healthy for the political process, DiPaolo said.

“Some of the stuff we’re learning is a little surprising to us,” he said of McPartland. “He strikes me as very radical.”

Some of his opponent’s social media sites are “quite vulgar in some ways,” DiPaolo said. “I’m not certain of the agenda,” he added.

McPartland has not attended a town board meeting at least since March, Di Paolo said, even though the challenger disputes the statement.

Wayne McPartland

McPartland worked for the New York City Fire Department for 33 years, which he called “the ultimate in public service.”

McPartland, who retired two years ago, said he wanted to run for a council seat.

“I’ve always been interested in politics whether international or local and I decided I want to serve the community,” he said.

There has not been a bona fide Democrat town board candidate in two decades, McPartland stated.

“This time it’s a real organized effort,” he said.

He criticized town officials for being too closely allied with Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a town resident. County government is wrong to borrow to pay for annual expenses and Astorino too often antagonizes the Department of Housing and Urban Development over the affordable housing settlement, McPartland said.

During his campaign and a recent fundraiser, McPartland said residents have told him they are happy the Republicans have a challenger.

McPartland said he does not agree with a property tax cap, which has been difficult to meet during the current period of low inflation.

“One of the reasons I’m running is to have transparency and openness,” McPartland said. “It’s like a bit of a closed group over there. “We’re not getting the information we should get.”

He criticized some of the reductions in town staff, which makes it difficult to make road repairs, he said.

McPartland, 64, said he would advocate for a stop sign on Columbus Avenue, where a woman was killed in September attempting to cross the road.

McPartland said the Republicans attempted to knock him off the ballot even though he easily had enough signatures. However, he said is willing to work with the board’s Republicans.

“Some Republicans have been my biggest supporters,” McPartland claimed, saying some are impressed with his knowledge of safety-related issues. For example, he has seen fire hydrants buried from sight because of vegetation.

McPartland said the town could increase its use of shared services with neighboring communities, including Briarcliff and Sleepy Hollow.

Mark Rubeo

Rubeo, 44, was appointed to the town board in February 2010 when Maybury replaced Robert Meehan as supervisor. Meehan became county attorney under Astorino.

Rubeo said he was running for re-election to continue helping town residents.

“My parents taught me at a very early age the importance of serving the community, however you can,” he said.

Rubeo, an attorney who lives and practices in Hawthorne, has been active as a coach and league administrator for the town’s American Youth Soccer Organization. He has been involved with several other community efforts, including the Mount Pleasant Education Foundation and is on the board of directors of the local chamber of commerce, the board of a local ambulance corps and a member of the Rotary Club.

“We have some projects that we’re working on that I want to see through to the end,” Rubeo said.

In the area of town finances, Rubeo said the town has an obligation to find ways to maintain a high level of service, but maintain or even reduce costs.

He said the town has been working on downtown revitalization, which has been in the offing for years. The idea is have residents spend their money in Mount Pleasant, which benefits the town, including generating additional sales tax revenue, he said.

The town is eyeing state funds to help remake the hamlets, he said, hoping to make the downtowns more attractive for pedestrians and small businesses. There is a need to broaden Mount Pleasant’s commercial tax base in hopes of spreading the tax burden so it doesn’t fall on residents’ shoulders, he said.

The town has also used its Industrial Development Agency to attract new entities to Mount Pleasant, including Regeneron and EF Academy, Rubeo said.

In recent years, officials have helped extricate Mount Pleasant from a “fiscal stress” designation by the state comptroller’s office and have increased its reserves by millions of dollars, Rubeo said.

He said he supports increasing the use of shared services. One example is having a private entity deal with yard waste, he said. Mount Pleasant’s highway department has been renting and sharing equipment with North Castle and Pleasantville, he added.

Rubeo said the town has adequate affordable housing, including new apartments, and with new zoning, residential units could be added to the second floor of downtown businesses.

Not having a Democrat elected to the town board for several years is “a reflection on the job that our town government has done over the past several decades,” said Rubeo who also works in his family’s business, Berger Hardware, in Hawthorne.


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