Ilissa Miller Profiled in Sound & Town Report

The Sound & Town Report is profiling all the candidates for Village of Mamaroneck Board of Trustees. Below is the Q & A with Ilissa Miller:

Q. The next Board of Trustees is guaranteed to have three new members. Given this scenario, what can you bring to the board that no one else can?

I firmly believe the only way to solve our challenges, as a community, is to insist on greater transparency and accountability from the Board of Trustees. Residents deserve more information about how fiscal and planning decisions are made, and local officials need to listen with more sincerity to the concerns of the community. My years of business experience have taught me how to listen, communicate, and bring diverse groups of people together.

Q. What is the most important issue facing the village, in your opinion? How will you address this issue as a trustee?

How to protect our village character in a time of continued economic uncertainty is the great challenge Mamaroneck is faced with today. New development cannot be allowed to disrupt our quality of life, public assets should not be neglected, and public services must be maintained. We need to plan for long-term financial health by implementing and keeping to budgets that reflect our village values and respect taxpayers and families.

Q. According to the latest census figures, Westchester County has the highest property taxes in the nation. What would you do as trustee to keep this burden to a minimum for village taxpayers?

Our responsibility is to make sure that the high quality and diverse character of our community can be maintained for new families looking for the perfect place to raise their children. That means planning for long-term financial health with responsible budgets that respect taxpayers. I am committed to finding alternative sources of revenue to protect our village character without putting more pressure on families that face their own economic uncertainty.

Q. Flood mitigation is a continuing problem for the village. What is one project or measure you would undertake to combat this problem as trustee?

They say you can’t beat Mother Nature, but you can be prepared. We need building and zoning codes that are easy to understand and enforce. We need to provide information about past floods to help village residents make cost-effective decisions about their own homes. And when flooding hits the village again, we need a plan in place to provide residents access to emergency funding and assistance.

Q. Open meetings have been a concern in the village. Do you think village government is run in a transparent manner? Why or why not?

My professional work has always been about communication, so it’s natural for me to focus on that. I know that nothing happens without cooperation. That’s true in business, it’s true in my family, and I think it’s absolutely true in the Village of Mamaroneck. The Board of Trustees has, too often, ignored the advice of our volunteer committees and treated citizen speakers at board meetings with disrespect. Votes are taken without residents having access to enough information to evaluate the issues. I am committed to sharing more information with residents of Mamaroneck and engaging in more open, respectful discussions with village residents.

Q. The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights recently found the Mamaroneck Union Free School District’s placement policies resulted in a disproportionate number of minority students in a single kindergarten class. Given Mamaroneck’s history with issues like the day worker lawsuit and questions about the implementation of Secure Communities, some feel there is a disconnect between Mamaroneck and the Hispanic community. What would you do as trustee to address this issue?

Mamaroneck’s diversity should never be treated as anything but part of our strength. Having a Board of Trustees that reflects our diversity, I think, should be an important goal for voters when deciding how to vote on Nov. 6. That’s one of the reasons I’m so proud of the Democratic ticket.

Q. What would you like to have seen the previous Board of Trustees handle differently? How would you have handled certain issues?

Mamaroneck has dedicated citizens with a variety of backgrounds contributing to our volunteer committees; the Board of Trustees needs to be much more attentive to those committees and citizens’ voices. While serving on the Mamaroneck Avenue Task Force Committee, we were joined at times by the village manager and other staff members, but not once by the mayor or any other member of the Board of Trustees. If I am elected, I will encourage representatives of the board to visit regularly with these important committees.

Q. What is one piece of legislation you’d like to pass or repeal once you become trustee and why?

I would like to evaluate the village’s boards, commissions and committees to provide clear guidance and tasks in order to ensure that participating members can accomplish appropriate initiatives. I expect that some committees could be consolidated and redefined. As far as I can tell, the village committees have not be reviewed or updated in the past decade and have operated as is for the course of many years. I think some of the committees feel like they are spinning their wheels and stepping on toes and realize they can add more value if they are leveraged more effectively.

Q. What is one thing about you, completely unrelated to this campaign, that you’d like villagers to know?

Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m not a political person. Running for office reflects my interest in community activism, volunteerism and cooperation.

This appeared originally in the Sound & Town Report, 10/26/2012.

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