The White Plains Examiner

Slate of Four Running for City Council May Push a White Plains Primary

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Michael Kraver, Alan Goldman and Saad Siddiqui.

It was little more than a month ago, on January 29, that White Plains Councilwoman Milagros Lecuona broke ranks with her Democratic colleagues in city government and directly challenged incumbent Mayor Tom Roach by announcing her intention to run for Mayor of White Plains.

Lecuona stood outside the Democratic Party headquarters in White Plains and using the backdrop of vacant retail space along the Mamaroneck Avenue corridor, said that lack of transparency in communications, lack of vision in city planning, and a need to take things in a different direction were her reasons for running.

At a kick-off meeting at the Hudson Grille in White Plains on Thursday evening, Lecuona found herself in the company of three other Democrats, Michael Kraver, Saad Siddiqui and Alan Goldman, all breaking from traditional Democratic Party procedures to announce their run – as a slate – for three seats on the Common Council.

The four candidates found they agreed on many policy issues and were strengthened in their intentions to run with the mutual support.

Mayoral candidate Milagros Lecuona talks to supporters at the kick-off party for three council seat candidates on March 2.

During interviews with The White Plains Examiner after the kick-off party each candidate said they had come to their decision to run for office individually and that with the encouragement of some city residents had found their way to a developing platform that might have White Plains Democrats voting in a primary later this year.

Mayor Tom Roach has said publicly that he intends to run again.

On the Council, two seats held by sitting Democrats John Martin and John Kirkpatrick are being challenged. The third seat, held by Beth Smayda, also a Democrat, will be vacant as Smayda has indicated she will not run for a third term.

Smayda’s departure has opened the door in the nominating process and it is possible that one of the three candidates could get the official nod from the Democratic City Committee. What that would do to the triumvirate’s politicking going forward would be decided at the time. Each of the Council candidates has acknowledged that they would be happy if any of their group was elected even if they personally did not make it. But, it is early in the process and more names might be entered into the race over coming weeks.

Alan Goldman, owner of Pip Printing on E. Post Road is the only candidate new to the Democratic Party. The former Republican changed affiliation just before the national election in 2016. Goldman said it was his desire to do something constructive for White Plains that pushed him to the decision to go Democratic. “People from the community came to me and said we need you,” Goldman said. He jokingly comments that people are constantly approaching him about issues they have with White Plains such as the vacant storefronts, aggressive policing of parking meters and high ticket fines, as well as spot zoning instead of updates to the city’s Comprehensive Plan and the need for more public safety staff in both the police and  fire departments. “It was either put out a shingle for counseling or run for office,” Goldman said.

As a business owner at the same location for about 20 years and a resident for almost 30 years, Goldman has seen a lot of White Plains’ recent history. He has decided that now is the time to step into the mix and make things happen.

On the other end of the political spectrum is Michael Kraver, a White Plains native who returned to the city in 2006 to raise a family. “This is where we decided to settle,” Kraver said. “The White Plains Schools are much better than their reputation and I think something should be done to market that.”

Kraver, a devoted member of the Democratic Party in White Plains, said he tried to throw his hat into the ring to run for office many times but could never get any traction and finally gave up trying. He had decided to give it a go on his own before he was approached to join with Goldman and Siddiqui.

Kraver is a lawyer, living in the Gedney Meadows neighborhood with children in the city’s schools. He is active with the White Plains Council of Neighborhood Associations and is aware of the many issues raised by residents. “There is too much attention given to people who don’t live here and too much focus on the downtown,” Kraver said. “We need to focus on the infrastructure and serving the people who live here.”

Saad Siddiqui, moved to White Plains when he was 14 years old and is now raising a family here. He and his wife are in the process of finalizing the adoption of their son.  As a father, Siddiqui said there are many reasons he wants to work to improve the quality of life in White Plains.

Siddiqui also sees the need for infrastructure improvements and more transparency in communication with City Hall. As a lawyer with a criminal defense background and a partnership in a local law office he has seen close-hand how important it is to have a well staffed and equipped police and fire department.

Siddiqui also wants to see the more diverse cultural elements of White Plains life represented in the city government. As a Muslim, Siddiqui is married to a Jewish woman, whose mother, a Roman Catholic, lives with them. “I have a perspective on how many cultures can work together that most people don’t have,” he said.

As for Mayoral Candidate Milagros Lecuona, she is happy to find that there are other voices in White Plains that have echoed her concerns and vision for the city. As far as the politics goes, “We will take it as it comes,” she said.

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