The North Castle Democratic Committee made its selection for this year’s town election official last Wednesday by endorsing three-term Supervisor Michael Schiliro and Councilman Jose Berra while adding a political newcomer to the ticket.
Schiliro, 54, who also served six years as councilman before being elected supervisor in 2013, said he enjoys serving the town and working with a board that leaves political differences at the door.
“I really enjoy being part of local government because it’s the purest form of government,” Schiliro said. “I have a strong sense that we’re able to get things done that directly impacts people’s lives.”
Major land use proposals such as the mixed-use Eagle Ridge development on a parcel formerly owned by IBM and the sensitive Mariani Gardens property along with the potential restructuring of some town departments are decisions that Schiliro said he would like to be part of.
There are also critical new hires to be made, including appointing a new town administrator and recreation superintendent.
The newest member to the town’s political scene is Saleem Hussain, 38, a North White Plains resident. He runs strategy functions for the Cognitive Applications Unit at IBM in Armonk, where he has worked for about 13 years.
Hussain, who serves on the board of the Friends of the North Castle Public Library and has volunteered at the Armonk Outdoor Art Show, said he cares deeply about the town and wants to contribute.
He and his wife have three young children with a fourth on the way.
“We were welcomed from the beginning in the community and we care so much about the lives we have here, as one would expect we would, and over time I’m getting more and more involved and there’s a lot of really important things to do,” Hussain said.
He hopes to address issues that affect young families in town and also make sure that North White Plains has sufficient representation.
“The representation of that hamlet is important and I want to make sure that is something I’ll always carry with me,” Hussain said.
During the course of the year, Hussain said he plans to interact more with residents to learn more about their priorities.
With the deadline for nominating petitions approaching early next month, it is unclear whether the Democrats will have competition in November. Republican Committee Chair Anita Cozza said last week that the GOP doesn’t have candidates yet for the election, other than endorsing Town Justice Elyse Lazansky and Town Clerk Alison Simon. The committee also is backing County Legislator Margaret Cunzio.
Cozza said the change in the election law, which pushed up the petition-carrying period about three months, along with the sudden announcement last month that Councilman Stephen D’Angelo will not seek a third term, caught the committee by surprise.
Armonk developer Michael Fareri said his own candidacy or finding candidates that he would support is still a possibility but that he has been preoccupied with personal matters. Fareri, a Republican, said in January that he wanted to challenge the incumbents because they have failed to increase the tax base and property values have sunk.
“Hopefully I will able to consider running,” he said. “If not, I’m certainly looking for qualified, intelligent business people to be able to get into the positions to make fair, honest decisions.”