DiGiacinto, Ruisi, Hussain the Right Fit for North Castle at This Time

Opinion Advocates for ideas and draws conclusions based on the author/producer’s interpretation of facts and data.

We are part of The Trust Project

North Castle voters are in the enviable position this year to not only have a full array of candidates on Election Day, but the ballot is filled with capable people who are seemingly there for the right reasons.

Republican Councilwoman Barbara DiGiacinto tries to make the leap to the supervisor’s seat after Michael Schiliro decided last fall this would be his last term on the board. She faces Democratic Committee Co-chair Joe Rende who has impressive public and private sector experience throughout his career.

Meanwhile, Democratic incumbent councilmen Saleem Hussain and Jose Berra are vying for a second and third term, respectively, on the Town Board. They will face Republicans Larry Ruisi, a Planning Board member, and Architectural Review Board member Mel Orellana.

Every town faces challenges and North Castle is no different. But the town has been well-run with an overflowing fund balance and a quality of life that residents of many other towns would envy.

Even one of the major issues of the day – the pace of development – comes down to philosophy and approach.

If you agree that the town has generally gone in the right direction under Schiliro for the past decade, then DiGiacinto would be a solid choice to continue on that path. With her 10 years on the board and a lifetime in North Castle, DiGiacinto has the institutional knowledge and grasp of the issues to help guide the town for at least the next two years.

In most of her decisions, she employs logic and reason and is appropriately inquisitive. She doesn’t follow dogmatic principles and considers issues on a case-by-case basis.

At the start of her board tenure, she reached out to North White Plains residents, something that had been lacking at the time and is still needed today.

DiGiacinto’s greatest challenge may be to find a way to shorten some of the meetings that have averaged well over three hours this year. She said it is a matter of managing the agendas. Whatever it is, that will need to change.

Depending on the makeup of the board, DiGiacinto would need to navigate the different strong personalities and must remain even-keeled when the temperature in the room begins to rise.

There is no question that if Rende is elected, the town would in no way suffer. The nine-year town resident served a term on the Port Chester Village Board in the 1980s and worked in the administration of Andrew O’Rourke. He has also been a business owner and is well-versed on the issues.

It comes down to whether the town would benefit from a material change. At this point it doesn’t seem like that is necessary.

For Town Board, the best choices would be Ruisi and to bring back Hussain for another term.

Ruisi’s extensive financial background, and for the last four years, experience on the Planning Board has him well-equipped to weigh in on two of the most important issues–development and guiding the town’s finances. He helped the town on the Budget & Finance Advisory Board, assisting the town plan financially for its aggressive road paving program.

His balanced approach to development, including recognizing the need for some condo taxation in order to better retain empty-nesters and young professionals and for North Castle to do its fair share on the housing issue is much needed.

Hussain has steadily become a valuable asset on the board, providing important input on technology issues and the library. An exceedingly thoughtful member, early on in his time on the board he seemed a little uneasy, but has been increasingly finding his footing. It would be good to see what he can do in a second term.

This recommended makeup would also force those three and Councilman Matt Milim to reach a consensus on the appointed board member to take DiGiacinto’s seat for most of 2024.

Berra has served the town well for the past eight years and in an appointed role for nearly another year. He’s sharp-eyed and has made contributions. However, his nearly across-the-board negative votes on development has been somewhat unfortunate. A board member shouldn’t be a rubber stamp but without some growth a town becomes stagnant.

Orellana has served on the Architectural Review Board for about a year and would serve the town well with his business and construction background. However, with such a talented field, it is hard to break in and he should be encouraged to try again if he comes up short.

We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.