When Carmel Supervisor Kenneth Schmitt decided he was going to run for an eighth two-year term this year, he anticipated being challenged.
What Schmitt didn’t expect was the challenger to be former Carmel Police Chief Mike Cazzari, who will be going toe-to-toe with Schmitt in a June 22 Republican primary that will determine who will lead the town since no Democrat has stepped forward.
Schmitt, along with incumbent Councilwoman Suzanne McDonough and Mahopac native Steve Baranowski, were endorsed by the Carmel Republican Committee. Cazzari, who served as chief for six years before retiring last July, garnered enough signatures to force a GOP primary. Also on the primary ballot with Cazzari are Town Board hopefuls Erin Lee Crowley and Gerard Ahler.
However, Crowley, a small business owner in Mahopac, told Examiner Media last week she was running alone and not as a team.
Schmitt, who noted he voted to appoint Cazzari, had sharp words for his opponent.
“I’ve lost all respect for the man. Anyone who does what he’s doing…It’s kind of like biting the hand that feeds him,” remarked Schmitt, who mentioned Cazzari received a $50,000 buyout when he retired. “We had an excellent working relationship when he was chief. I look forward to debating him. My record of accomplishment over the last 14 years speaks for itself. He can’t lead the town in the manner I have been leading it the last 14 years.”
Schmitt said there’s a big difference between overseeing a $9 million Police Department and a $44 million town government.
“It would be a tremendous learning curve for him. I guess anyone is capable of doing certain things,” he said. “The voters ultimately will decide who is more suited for the position and who has the experience to run the Town of Carmel. The voters of the Town of Carmel are very smart people. The primary is the election. That’s why we’re working hard every day, reaching out to the voters and encouraging them to come out on June 22.”
Cazzari has lived in Mahopac for 27 years. He was elected to the Mahopac Board of Education in 2016 and served one three-year term.
Repeated attempts to reach Cazzari in recent weeks were unsuccessful. Reportedly, he supports term limits, expanding the tax base and a balanced Master Plan.
“There’s already term limits. If you’re doing a bad job, people don’t vote for you,” said Schmitt, who emphasized the town has been able to maintain an AA bond rating and reduced the tax rate by 3.75% this year. “I’ve been elected seven times to this position. That speaks for itself.”
Crowley, a married mother of a teenage son and identical triplets, is the founder of the Hope Chest Sisters, a nonprofit organization that provides support and advocacy for domestic violence victims. During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, her Mask Maker’s Guild distributed more than 30,000 pieces of personal protective equipment to frontline workers and she was recognized by State Senator Pete Harckham as a “Hometown HeroTop of Form
“I will always act on behalf of the community as a whole, and never allow myself to become beholden to any private interests. I will always vote my conscience, and will never be pressured into voting along with the board, simply for the sake of not rocking the boat,” she stated on her campaign website. “I will operate openly, in a transparent manner, and am committed to regularly engaging with the residents of Carmel, beyond the election. Every taxpayer deserves a voice!