Mail-in ballots, contested candidates, redistricting and confidentiality were issues raised Thursday night during the Scarsdale Forum’s general membership meeting during a panel discussion with Michelle Lichtenberg and David Brodsky, the chair and vice chair of the Procedure Committee, Larry Bell, the chair of the Forum committee and moderator Seth Ross.
Proposed amendments to the Non-Partisan Procedure Committee report include:
- A one-household rule (only one person per household can run for office);
- Allowing mail-in ballots accompanied by a certificate of eligibility to vote;
- Prohibiting a former or village trustee from running for election to the Citizens Nominating Committee (CNC) before 18 months have passed; Prohibiting anyone from serving on the CNC for more than three consecutive years;
- Prohibiting concurrent roles (cannot run for CNC if serving in another elected position in the village).
“I don't believe we should add additional restrictions on who can run for the CNC,” said past president Bruce Wells. He said voters should decide if two or more people from the same household can concurrently serve on the CNC. “Restricting participation based on various perceived traits is a slippery slope and these types of restrictions tend not to be treated well historically," he said.
While Wells felt restricting past Trustees or Mayor is problematic, the voters should make that decision. Lichtenberg said in addition to the convenience and privacy of mail-in ballots is, since they won’t be tallied until the day of the vote, if someone voted by mail, then decided to vote in person, the in-person vote would supersede the mail-in ballot.
“This gives people a chance to change their minds,” she said. Brodsky said based on comments and feedback from its four meetings during June and September, “most of the comments perceived the Citizens Nominating Committee to be dominated by a small group of people.”
Mark Lewis asked why there wasn’t one vote per person and said he’d previously discussed it with Scarsdale Forum President B. Kathleen Munguia. Why wasn’t redistricting discussed?” Lewis asked the panel.
Bell replied that the CNC is a political caucus that doesn’t have indirect voting. “No one is claiming disenfranchisement,” he said.
Munguia responded that there was no Procedural Committee when she and Lewis initially discussed the matter. “When will we have contested candidates for the Trustees and the Mayor?” asked Dorothy Levin. “This is not a democratic election. I’m suggesting a double slate of candidates, not two parties.”
In response, another resident noted that, for her, changing from six to five districts “simplified voting and made it less confusing. It wasn’t meant to be one person, one vote.”
Scarsdale Mayor Miriam Levitt Flisser questioned why former village trustees are eliminated from running for the CNC. Brodsky said due to confidentiality, a “cooling off period” is necessary since former village officials may have prior knowledge about a person or an event in question.
“To anyone who thinks the process is controlled by a few insiders, they should get involved,” Wells said. “The process is very open to anyone who wants to participate, it’s rewarding and you meet all sorts of interesting people.”
Following the meeting, Munguia released a statement concerning the evening's agenda. "It is the mission of the Forum to provide for an exchange of ideas about the issues facing our community,” Munguia said. “I hope those in attendance came away with a better understanding of Village concerns and the amendments to the resolution proposed by the Procedure Committee.”
Polls open November 15 from 7 a.m.-9:30 a.m. or 2 p.m.-9 p.m. at Village Hall, 1001 Post Road.