Three first-time political candidates have been tabbed to represent the New Castle Republicans in this November’s town elections, it was announced on Wednesday.
Leading the slate, which calls itself Team New Castle, is seven-year Chappaqua resident Jim Smith who will run for supervisor. He will be accompanied by Streetscape Committee member and former Chappaqua-Millwood Chamber of Commerce Vice President Lauren Levin and town native Sean Maraynes.
They will be taking on Councilwoman Ivy Pool, who is running for supervisor for the Democrats. Her running mates will be incumbent Councilman Jeremy Saland and Millwood Fire Commissioner Jason Lichtenthal.
Smith, 45, a consultant who helps companies address fiscal issues, said since he’s lived in New Castle its financial position and quality of life have improved but there are ongoing challenges for the town. He said striking the right balance between development to help the tax base and ease property tax pressures while preserving the town’s rural characteristics is essential.
“I’ve seen a lot of pressure mounting from all the decisions frankly made from all kinds of government and I think our residents feel that pressure on their home values, concerns about quality of life, the reasons why they came town in the first place,” Smith said.
“I think looking at development and encouraging a commercial tax base is sort of against our desire to protect the environment and as a rural town it’s a puzzle and I think I’m well-suited to sort it out.”
That pressure has been heightened with the approaching Con Edison natural gas moratorium, which will place an additional hurdle on the town’s plans to reshape downtown Chappaqua.
Smith, who is currently a registered Republican, had been a Democrat in his early days. During college and immediately afterwards he interned and then worked for former vice President Al Gore on the Clinton-Gore re-election campaign and also worked on the Inauguration Committee.
However, over the years Smith said he no longer feels at home with either major party. He said there’s no place for partisanship in local government.
“I’m so passionate about that because I see it getting in the way all the time,” said Smith, who has served on the Planning Board in the Town of Fremont in Sullivan County where he is currently the chairman. Smith also owns a house in that community and said he would leave the board if he is elected supervisor.
Smith’s political stripes mirrors the New Castle Republican Committee’s goal of taking divisive party politics out of local issues. Warren Gottlieb, chairman of the New Castle Republican Committee, said the ticket embodies that sentiment.
“Consistent with the last three local election cycles, our committee is confident that town voters will again embrace our non-partisan, local-issues-first approach and support Jim, Lauren and Sean as they carry the torch of good government forward for the entire community,” Gottlieb said. “We are truly excited the town has a ticket of this strength heading into the 2019 election cycle.”
Levin, 36, a former buyer for Lord & Taylor, said she decided to run for Town Board after serving on the Streetscape Committee and the Chamber of Commerce in hopes of reinvigorating downtown. She created Wine Around Town, patterned after the successful Art Around Town, to attract residents and visitors to the hamlet.
“For me, I really enjoy serving the town,” said Levin, a registered Republican who described herself as fiscally conservative and socially liberal. “The chamber of commerce, I got that position because of my retail background with the merchants. I know everybody who owns the stores in Chappaqua because my kids and I go to their stores, have lunch there and it’s fulfilling for me. To do something like this, to get to the next level where now I have the opportunity to be a council member, is really exciting.”
Maraynes, 36, a former assistant district attorney in the Bronx who is now a civil litigator for a White Plains law firm, comes from a family that has called New Castle home for four generations. He said maintaining New Castle’s broad rural character just a 45-minute commute from Manhattan while attracting appropriate development will be the key challenge moving forward.
“Most people agree that that’s something they love about Chappaqua and New Castle and they don’t want it to change,” said Maraynes, who is politically unaffiliated. “But at the same time, we need to develop certain areas and want certain things and we sort of have to have a vision of having a certain identity.”