Benjamin Boykin, Alfreda Williams Candidates for County Legislature (unopposed) State Their Positions in Candidates Forum at WP Library By Ayana A. Meade

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County Legislators Benjamin Boykin and Alfreda Williams prepare for Community Forum last week. Jim Kenny, Executive Director of White Plains Television adjusts the Microphones.Photo by Ayana Meade

WPCNR CAMPAIGN 2015. By Ayana A. Meade.Special to WPCNR. October 21, 2015 (Part I of a Two Part Exclusive Report)

In preparation for the upcoming elections on Nov 3rd, candidates running for Westchester County Legislature and Common Council participated in a Candidates Forum at the White Plains Public Library on Wednesday October 14th.

The forum provided an opportunity for candidates to address questions about issues facing White Plains, and for them to educate constituents about their positions. The purpose of the forum was to provide voters with the information needed to make more informed choices on election day.  The forum was hosted by the League of Women Voters of White Plains and co-sponsored by the White Plains Public Library, The White Plains Council of Neighborhood Associations and the White Plains/Greenburgh NAACP.

Addressing a room of approximately 75 residents, the forum lasted about two hours, with candidates addressing questions that ranged from environmental issues, to housing and development.

County Legislator candidates Benjamin Boykin and Alfreda Williams (representing districts 1 and 8 respectively—both Democrats and running for re-election, uncontested) spoke during the first hour, followed by the four Common Council candidates running in a contested election for three Common Council seats: AnneMarie Encarnacao, Nadine Hunt-Robinson, Dennis Krolian, Milagros Lecuona, with Ms. Encarnacao being the only Republican candidate running as a challenger against three incumbent Democrats. (The Council Candidates comments will be covered in Part II of this exclusive coverage.)

The format allowed for candidates to make opening statements, respond to a league question, a question from each of the co-sponsors, and then to questions submitted by the audience that were pre-selected by the league board. The forum was moderated by Carolyn Stevens, Scarsdale League member and the first Vice President of the County League of Women Voters.

County Legislator Boykin, who in his opening statement declared that his key issue was to create good paying jobs and improve our regional economy, cited that he brings a unique set of skills to the County Legislature, including financial business executive experience, education leadership, and a long record of public service in White Plains.

Legislator Williams who previously worked in town government for 14 years, as Greenburgh Town Clerk, cited her experience in seeing numerous pieces of legislation pass through the legislative process.  Her key focus as a legislator is helping to improve the quality of life of all the citizens of White Plains, touting her track record on environmental issues.

The Pipeline

Both candidates were asked to address questions on a wide range of topics: when asked to state their positions on the Algonquin Pipeline, Williams answered an emphatic “I’m against it,” citing its proximity to the City of Peekskill, school districts, residential housing, and Indian Point, as her primary concerns.  Adding that, the democratic members of the Board of Legislators sent a request to the Federal Government in order to eliminate and put a freeze on issuing environmental permits for the pipeline, and have also submitted a petition to the EPA to appeal the decision to issue those permits.

Boykin affirmed Williams’ opposition to the pipeline, adding that the Board of Legislators passed a resolution 15-1, stating additional research needs to be performed.  In addition, the democratic members of the legislators requested that additional insurance be provided for the project.

Plastic bags and Styrofoam Ban

When asked what the status was of the bill authored by Legislator Catherine Parker, that would limit the use of plastic bags and Styrofoam containers by retailers, Boykin responded that he was in support of it, but admitted that progress was “slow,” citing setbacks due to a ruling by a NYC judge that it was inappropriate to ban city businesses from using Styrofoam containers.  Boykin says they’re working toward developing one comprehensive proposal that the entire County can agree on.

Storm Drains

The candidates were asked to discuss their position on allowing the adding of storm drains to carry off excess water to Mamaroneck River, and what they would advise communities facing a similar situation?

Boykin said that having additional storm drains was a requirement under state law., and that the Reconnaissance Plans that the County approved last year are in place for communities to deal with flooding and solving flooding issues. Adding that, under those Reconnaissance Plans not only do they have to look at how it will affect White Plains, but how it will affect Scarsdale, and Mamaroneck, for example.  Once the impact to all potential communities has been assessed, the County decides whether not to provide the 50% funding that is under the Reconnaissance Plans.

Williams added that officials are looking at re-instituting storm drains for the Bronx River as well as Saw Mill and Mamaroneck areas, where so much flooding exists.  Adding that the storm gauges are no longer working or are no longer in existence, making it difficult to prepare for potential flooding.   In response, officials need to look at the possibility of dredging for instance along the Bronx River which is silted over in many instances—using all of these combined solutions to eliminate flooding in the county.

Gun Show Ban

When asked to state their position on allowing gun shows at the County Center, Williams replied that she is co-sponsoring legislation to eliminate gun shows at County owned properties that will be presented at an upcoming Board of Legislators—Legislator Boykin is co-sponsoring the legislation.

While neither candidate stated they were against the possession of guns outright, they both agreed that hosting gun shows on County owned property that was funded by tax payers was not the appropriate place, especially in light of recent gun tragedies.

Curtailing Voter Registration Availability

Candidates were asked to comment on the current County Executive’s repeal of Andy Spano’s executive order to provide voter registration forms at all County Offices.

Boykin responded, “I don’t know why that happened because we need to be as transparent as possible, and we need to get as many people to vote as possible.”  Adding that, it’s important to have the voter registration forms available in as many places as possible, including online access.

During their closing remarks both candidates echoed that voting is a terribly important responsibility of citizenship that everyone should be involved in, and urged residents to head to the polls on November 3rd.

(Reporting on the issues White Plains Common Council Candidates commented on will appear in Part II of this exclusive report)

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