Continuing an ongoing tradition of community involvement and education, the Woman’s Club of White Plains sponsored a candidate’s forum last week. The featured guests were Nadine Hunt-Robinson (Democrat-incumbent) and Terence Guerriere (Republican-challenger) running in a special election for the seat on the White Plains Common Council left vacant when Benjamin Boykin won the election to represent District 5 on the Westchester County Board of Legislators.
Hunt-Robinson was appointed to the seat by the Council in January 2014.
A newcomer to the White Plains political scene, Hunt-Robinson was appointed chair of the Mayor’s Youth Board. She has expressed interest in and worked on numerous projects involving the education and development of youth in the White Plains community, with a focus on STEM (science, technology engineering and math) education.
Guerriere, former president of the Gedney neighborhood association and outspoken opponent of the French American School of New York (FASNY) development proposal in his neighborhood has served on many boards and committees in White Plains with a focus on city planning.
Questions posed by the Woman’s Club committee included concern about the many large parcels of property left vacant around White Plains, including the site of a former automotive dealership on the East Post Road.
Hunt-Robinson explained that current plans include residential development on the Maple Avenue side of the road with retail on the Post Road side. She expressed hope that the Post Road development would enhance the Mamaroneck Avenue corridor. “White Plains is in demand,” she said.
Guerriere said that large tracks of land left vacant are the symptom of land use change as developers are looking for new uses in a free market.
In order to protect White Plains from over development, Guerriere said it was time to update the White Plains Comprehensive Plan.
He added that one way to help promote business in downtown White Plains would be to offer free parking to White Plains residents in all city-owned and operated parking structures. “We already pay enough in property taxes,” Guerriere said, “parking is like a second tax.” Rather, Guerriere felt the offer of free parking would encourage more shopping in the downtown and would ultimately raise sales tax revenue.
Regarding Public Safety, Hunt-Robinson said she was confident in the work of Commissioner Chong and his plans to protect the city even with the reduction in fire and police personnel from 2010.
Guerriere said he thought the eliminated positions should be filled once again to bring the staffing levels up, especially with the amount of night activity along Mamaroneck Avenue that took patrols out of the neighborhoods.
Hunt-Robinson explained that Chong’s plan took officers from desk duty and put them on the street and that patrols in the neighborhoods were ongoing.
Regarding transportation and the further development of White Plains as a hub, both candidates seemed in agreement that White Plains would benefit from the new Tappan Zee Bridge.
Guerriere expressed concern that White Plains be proactive in figuring out how the Bus Rapid Transit component of the new bridge plan would bring buses into the city.
Hunt-Robinson talked about development of a new Metro-North station and mentioned a possible new park along the Bronx River Parkway.
Guerriere said he would like to see development of parkland in the north part of White Plains near Orchard Street and the city’s watershed area.
When it came to FASNY, Guerriere said he knows as much about the development proposal and maybe more than most members of the Common Council and that with that information he could easily say he is definitely opposed to the proposed plan.
Hunt-Robinson would not say that she is for or against FASNY but iterated her list of considerations when making any decision for the welfare of the citizens of White Plains.
The next candidate forum will be held at the White Plains Public Library, Wednesday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. It will include White Plains Common Council, NYS Senate and NYS Assembly candidates and is co-sponsored by the White Plains League of Woman Voters, WPCNA, NAACP and the White Plains Library.