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  • Mamaroneck Observer

Board of Trustees Yields to Public Pressure

By Kathy Savolt -

Robert F. Kennedy once said, “Democracy is messy.” That sentiment was certainly on display at the public hearing on February 13, 2023.

The Board of Trustees had proposed a law that would extend their terms of office from two to four years. Their proposal was to make this change without input from the voters unless the voters were able to gather enough signatures within 30 days to require a referendum to be put on the ballot.

Because of previous reporting in The Mamaroneck Observer and amplification on social media, the Board of Trustees received a significant number of emails prior to the hearing demanding the change be put before the voters.

Before the hearing was open for public comment, Mayor Murphy indicated that the Board was now leaning toward holding a referendum on the issue and that they would not approve the proposed law that evening. They did, however, still want to hear from the people who were present and prepared to address them.

This auspicious beginning eventually devolved when resident Amy Siskind, after presenting her own views on the proposed law, reported that she heard many of the emails sent to the Board were because people were reluctant to attend the meeting in person due to fears of uncivil behavior by members of the Board.

Mayor Murphy immediately responded causing Siskind to tell him that his remarks were exactly what she was talking about saying “that suppressed our democracy”. Siskind called for an anti-bullying rule. Murphy, a Democrat, stated this must be the start of the election season and said this is why the term extension was needed. He then launched into rehashing unrelated, old political grievances against the Village Democratic Party, seemingly to portray certain members of the Board as victims of bullying.

Trustee Yizar-Reid was specifically asked if she would agree to treat the people who come before the Board with respect. She responded that bullying goes both ways and did not answer the question in the affirmative.

Despite the drama, democracy prevailed. Twelve residents and the co-Presidents of the Larchmont/Mamaroneck League of Women Voters spoke at the meeting. Some were for the proposed term change and some against but most wanted a referendum in November so the people could decide.

When all was said and done, the Trustees did not take a vote on the proposed law. Instead, they voted on two resolutions: the first resolution directed the Village Attorney to draft two new proposed laws both for four year terms: the first with the entire Board (Mayor and 4 Trustees) elected in line with the presidential election and the second with staggered terms (Mayor and 1 Trustee/3 Trustees) every two years in line with federal elections (Congress/presidential). It passed 4:1 with Trustee Lucas voting no. The second resolution was to ensure that any new law include a public referendum to be held in November. It also passed 4:1 with Trustee Young voting no.

Watch the public hearing HERE: starting at minute 21:25.Watch until the end of the meeting for more of the Board’s behavior.


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