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New Castle Councilman Christian Hildenbrand will run in a special election for the unexpired term for the seat he now holds after submitting his independent party petition before the May 31 deadline.
Hildenbrand said he put in his nominating petition to the Westchester County Board of Elections to appear on the Unite New Castle line shortly before Memorial Day weekend. He filed his acceptance of nomination last Tuesday.
The delay in Hildenbrand officially announcing his candidacy was to make sure he wanted to go through with it and avoid making a premature statement.
“There is work involved and I would say after five months on the job, I actually enjoy it, I really do, in going to the meetings and dealing with the issues we deal with, working with the town counsel effectively and working with the staff and (Town Administrator) Jill Shapiro,” he said.
Hildenbrand was appointed in January even though he campaigned with Unite New Castle running mates Lisa Katz, Tara Kassal and Victoria Tipp starting late last summer after Andrea Sanseverino Galan announced she was moving out of town. Sansverino Galan was stuck on the ballot, but the rest of the ticket announced that if they won, Hildenbrand would be appointed.
He said in March that if he ran for the remaining three years of the term, it would be as an independent candidate, not on the Republican or Democratic lines.
Under the law, a Town Board appointee serves until the next Election Day when a special town election would be held, in this case for the remaining three years of Sanseverino Galan’s term.
He will be facing Democrat Holly McCall in November. McCall lost to Katz last year in the race for supervisor.
Hildenbrand said he would expect this campaign to be less contentious than last year but many of the issues remain, including development and the future of the Chappaqua hamlet. Given the uptick in new businesses that have moved into downtown Chappaqua in recent months, he said it has shown that the town didn’t need to make sweeping changes to its zoning code.
Last year’s campaign centered nearly exclusively on the controversial Form Based Code.
Since he was appointed there have been two new restaurants and several service and retail businesses that have opened, he said.
“When I look around town, what’s happened here in just a couple of months is kind of what we thought would happen without the need for transformational development projects in town,” Hildenbrand said. “So for me, I’m excited about the movement in town, I’m excited about the vitality and energy in town.”
The recent passage of allowing below-grade residential units mainly along King Street could help increase different types of housing stock. Decisions about North Greeley Avenue still need to be addressed.
Other issues to be tackled are sustainability and making sure the recently appointed Committee on Race and Equity has what it needs to make progress, he said.
McCall said she also does not expect as combative a campaign, with more of an issues-focused debate this year. However, most voters’ attention could be diverted to the congressional mid-terms, gubernatorial race and other state elections.
“I hope that we can have a much more calm and less heated race this year,” McCall said. “I think the issues are a lot less contentious, maybe no less important, because I think the future of the community, especially when it comes to our housing diversity, still really hasn’t been addressed. I’d love to see how we can really be planning for the future in line with the Comprehensive Plan, and I feel like right now it’s been a lot of talk and not much action.”
While not surprised that Hildenbrand is now officially a candidate, she said it seemed to be a departure from the norm that he did not publicly announce whether he was running or not.
Katz said in the five months that Hildenbrand has been on the board he has shown to be “an invaluable asset.”
“He is a hard worker and I would like to see him continue for the next three years,” Katz said.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/