As a third generation Yorktown resident, Tom Diana has seen the community slowly transform the last 67 years from a rural area to a family-oriented municipality with a mixture of housing and a low crime rate.
The Shrub Oak native served as a police officer in Yorktown, Cortlandt and Westchester County and was appointed supervisor on Jan. 1 after Matt Slater was elected to the state Assembly.
Now, Diana is looking to earn his first full two-year term when he faces off against Democratic challenger Jann Mirchandani on Nov. 7.
“It’s just a great place to live. I couldn’t think of anywhere else I would want to be,” Diana said. “I love this job. As supervisor, I am able to serve the people of Yorktown in a different capacity and fix things that need to be fixed that have been neglected for decades.”
Mirchandani, 55, has lived in Yorktown for more than 20 years and runs a small business in digital marketing, web design and communications.
She feels she has the skillset to lead and bring a fresh perspective to town government.
“Politics was never a career choice for me, but I think we can make a difference,” she said. “I’ve been paying attention for many years and been frustrated for a long time. I decided to go for it.”
Diana was first elected as a councilman in Yorktown in 2015 and was reelected in 2019. Up until a few weeks ago, he owned a heating oil business for years with his wife.
“I honestly love this job because I’m able to do things and help people. I’ve been a problem solver my whole life,” he said. “You have to be ready to go and be able to think on your feet. The worst part of this job is not being able to help someone for whatever reason.”
Diana stressed a good example of his leadership abilities was when he was able to secure garbage pickup for residents a few days after the Town Board was forced to fire Competitive Carting after the company had most of its trucks repossessed this summer.
“It started out as a decent marriage. They just never seemed to get out of first gear,” he said. “They came to us with a contract that would save the town $1.5 million. We thought $1.5 million was being fiscally responsible and a good thing. I thought with the way he presented it and the way we vetted it, it would work. We are humans. We make mistakes. I fixed it and made it better in 72 hours. I don’t know who else could do that without the relationships and experience I have.”
Diana said the mixed-use Underhill Farm project that was approved a few months ago will provide a lot of positive additions for Yorktown, including an improved intersection on Underhill Ave. and Route 118.
“I think Underhill Farm will turn out fine. I hope it keeps more of our seniors here,” he said. “I’m looking forward to them redoing the mansion.”
If reelected, Diana said he plans on focusing on infrastructure and sewer projects that are needed in Yorktown.
“I’m not a politician. I just happened to fall into this realm,” he said. “It’s the people that matter and I will serve them to the best of my ability.”
Mirchandani said she envisions a Yorktown where “we consciously and collaboratively strive to live up to our town motto: ‘Progress with Preservation,’ where it is our mission, not just a slogan.”
“We need to focus on a much broader definition of housing and what’s available,” she said. “I don’t think we’re asking the right questions. My biggest concern with him (Diana) is that he seems to be more reactive than proactive. The council seat and supervisor seat are very different. As supervisor you need executive skills and manager skills. I think he has certainly dropped the ball in a number of areas.”
Mirchandani maintained the biggest mistake the town board made with Competitive Carting was not properly looking into their past and financial capabilities.
“To say there were no red flags was disingenuous. They’re doing a good spin job, but I don’t think it passes the smell test,” she remarked. “Being penny wise and pound foolish comes to mind.”
During the planning process for Underhill Farm, Mirchandani said the town was shortchanged, while the developer received tax abatements and other benefits.
“I’m not against mixed use in principle,” she said. “There were a lot of concerns that were not taken seriously in the planning process. I don’t think the traffic mitigation plan is sufficient and the parks and recreation fees were not enough.”
Mirchandani is proposing to put together a vacant building registry and hold an economic summit in the spring to “showcase what Yorktown has to offer.”
“We have to start developing those relationships (with outside businesses),” she said. “We haven’t done a good enough job with that.”
She is also looking to take a close look at the town’s Ethics Law and Ethics Board.
“I feel there’s a lot of stuff that happens behind closed doors right now. They give themselves a lot of cover for that,” Mirchandani said. “People make complaints and most of it goes into a vacuum. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something.”
Rick has more than 40 years’ experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, running the gamut from politics and crime to sports and human interest. He has been an editor at Examiner Media since 2012. Read more from Rick’s editor-author bio here. Read Rick’s work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/pezzullo_rick-writer/