Yorktown Supervisor Bows Out Mostly Gracefully
An emotional Yorktown Supervisor Michael Grace bid adieu to residents, colleagues and co-workers last week during the final televised Town Board meeting he will chair in his six-year run as the town’s chief executive.
Grace got choked up a few times as he spoke at the end of the four-and-a-half- hour session and reflected on what he felt was a very productive administration.
“I’m very proud of the things we accomplished over the last six years. It’s been a team effort,” said Grace, who fell short in his bid for a fourth two-year term last month. “I’m very proud and pleased to leave the town in a much better state than when I came in. We tried our best. It’s been fun. I’m actually looking forward to leaving.”
Grace conceded his loss to Ilan Gilbert still stings, along with character assassinations during the campaign that he maintained were hurtful and uncalled for from individuals he considered friends, including Gilbert and councilwoman-elect Alice Roker.
“There are some hard feelings,” he said. “To me being accused of being a racist was beyond the pale. I hope our differences don’t make us enemies in the future.”
At the same time, Grace said he had “faith” in Gilbert “that he will do well,” but noted Gilbert has not contacted him yet about a transition, a point that Gilbert refuted.
“I was surprised and taken aback by Supervisor Grace’s statement at the Town Board meeting on December 19th that I had not tried to meet with him to discuss the transition of the office of Supervisor. It is not accurate,” Gilbert said. “Weeks before his statement, after the second day of budget hearings, I had sat down with Michael Grace and (Councilman) Greg Bernard, to discuss the issues facing the town and to discuss the transition. Unfortunately, instead of focusing on the issues it turned into a non-productive session about matters not germane to the transition.”
“However, yesterday (Thursday) after seeing Michael at a ribbon-cutting, I told him if his statement at the recent Town Board meeting was meant as an invitation to me to meet again then I would be glad to sit down to discuss the issues facing the town and his perspective as the outgoing supervisor,” Gilbert added.
“I look forward to working with all the members of the Town Board for the benefit of the residents of Yorktown. They deserve no less.”
Promising to “be around” and “needle” the town board from time to time, Grace said he looked forward to working with Gilbert “in some capacity” and stressed the strong financial position he was leaving Yorktown to Gilbert, who is a former town justice.
“I’m very confident the incoming board, if they are wise and frugal, the town should enjoy fiscal stability for a very long time,” said Grace, who mentioned reducing the town debt by $12 million while increasing the town’s unrestricted fund balance. “It’s an amazing accomplishment if you want to realize what the economy was when I took over. The town is in great financial shape.”
Meanwhile, Grace urged the new Democratic-controlled town board not to impede progress, particularly with recent approval for the Jefferson Valley Mall and his pet project of relocating the highway garage and parks department operations to make room for Depot Square on Front Street.
“Hopefully you’ll have a different perspective than to just say no,” Grace said. “It’s very easy to do nothing. It’s not worthwhile to be in this position and do nothing. Don’t be a sheep and follow the political rhetoric. We took the attitude of putting winds in people’s sails and put passion in their dreams.”
Gilbert said he didn’t appreciate one of the last resolutions the Grace-led board made last week regarding Depot Square, remarking, “I was troubled by the way, at the 11th hour of his administration, the current town board committed $120,000 of taxpayer money to hire an architect for the controversial highway garage project, knowing the incoming board and the community at large has serious reservations about that project and all it entails.”
Republican councilmen Greg Bernard, who was also defeated in the November election, Tom Diana and Ed Lachterman all praised Grace for his leadership, along with Police Chief Robert Noble.
“I think we had a good crew with us four white guys here,” Bernard remarked, referring to the four Republicans that controlled the board. “It would be my honor to be called a bobblehead for Michael Grace.”
Rick has more than 40 years’ experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, running the gamut from politics and crime to sports and human interest. He has been an editor at Examiner Media since 2012. Read more from Rick’s editor-author bio here. Read Rick’s work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/pezzullo_rick-writer/