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Tower

The student-run news site of The Masters School

Tower

The student-run news site of The Masters School

Tower

The Dominican exchange students who recently visited Masters have been recounting their positive experiences at the school. Similarly, Masters students hosting them heaped praise on the exchange students. The students hail from The Carmen School in the Dominican Republic, and they noted distinct cultural shocks when coming to the United States.
Exchange program provides students with valuable life experiences
Justine Pascutti, News Editor • April 20, 2024

“I loved being an exchange student, because it was something that I always wanted to experience. It was one of the best things that happened...

Meet Dobbs Ferry’s 2023 mayoral election hopefuls

An exclusive look at the three candidates, their policies, and hopes for Dobbs Ferry
The+village+of+Dobbs+Ferry+is+holding+the+next+mayoral+election+on+November+7%2C+2023.
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The village of Dobbs Ferry is holding the next mayoral election on November 7, 2023.

Tuesday, November 7, is Election Day in the Village of Dobbs Ferry. This election cycle, local constituents will be voting for their next mayor. Three candidates will appear on the ballot this year: incumbent Mayor Vincent Rossillo, Edmond F. Manley III, and Justin B. Kurian.

In exclusive interviews with Tower’s Xavier Rolston and Matthias Jaylen, the candidates spoke about why they’re running and their goals if elected to office.

 

Vincent Rossillo (Incumbent Mayor) | Democrat

Rossillo will appear on the ballot as the incumbent mayor of Dobbs Ferry and Democrat party nominee. He has served the town since 2011 on the Board of Trustees, winning reelection the following three terms. In 2019, Rossillo won the mayoral election. While he’s been around Dobbs Ferry for a while, Rossillo made it clear that he’s just getting started.

“I went through the pandemic, I went through social issues, injustice issues, and infrastructure problems. There’s so much more that I have, and I feel like we should do together,” Rossillo said.

One of those things is improving infrastructure in Dobbs Ferry. Rossillo’s administration is focused on creating better recreational areas for residents. He said, “We’re working on Gould Park, and that’s going to be an amazing project that I’d like to see it come to its end. I think we’re going to have a great complex there — probably the jewel of the Westchester County.”

“From there, we’ll move on to Memorial Park. I’d like to see that done as well,” Rossillo continued. “I think with Waterfront Park, Memorial Park, and Gould Park, we will have great recreation areas for Dobbs Ferry.”

Rossillo’s infrastructure plans extend beyond parks, and include taking another look at Dobbs Ferry’s downtown area. Incentivizing businesses to come to Dobbs, and creating a better unified feel, are all on his agenda.

“For years, we didn’t do anything to incentivize people. But, things are happening now,” Rossillo said. “We got a grant from Westchester County to take a look at our downtown. They have experts who have walked the village. They have spoken to the store owners, they’re going to do a really extensive survey, and they’re going to study it. And they’re going to come up with a plan that they think would guide us and lead us into having a better downtown.”

Some of Rossillo’s accomplishments as mayor include climate change and sustainability efforts. He explained that Dobbs Ferry recently signed a grant for Honeywell to redo village property to improve energy efficiency, as well as passing “some of the most restrictive greenhouse gas laws.” As mayor, one of his goals would be to continue that work.

Rossillo’s campaign focuses on one central philosophy: making Dobbs Ferry a more inclusive space for all its residents. He aims to achieve this through a variety of ways: promoting social justice throughout town, including more people in legislative discussions, and making Dobbs Ferry more accessible for its residents, for current and future generations.

There’s much more I think we can do, and I’m excited to do that.

— Vincent Rossillo

Creating a progressive and accepting community is not a one-step solution, so Rossillo has approached this from various angles.

“When Black Lives Matter had a rally at Waterfront Park, I spoke at it, but I also heard people of color speak. And their experience in Dobbs Ferry was way different than my experience in Dobbs Ferry; they didn’t feel comfortable here. They felt a different environment. It really touched me,” Rossillo explained.

“I spoke to them. And in response to that, I created the Human Rights and Diversity Committee. I charged them with addressing these uncomfortable issues that people don’t necessarily like to talk about, but it’s important that everybody had the same experience when they come to Dobbs Ferry.”

This was one way Rossillo highlighted his contributions to addressing Dobbs Ferry’s culture of acceptance. Among other ways was painting the pride flag in the heart of the downtown area, on the intersection of Main Street and Cedar Street.

Rossillo said there’s still work left to do on this front. He said, “There’s much more I think we can do, and I’m excited to do that. Some of those issues would be affordable housing.” Rossillo explained that the high cost of living in Dobbs Ferry was something he wanted to fix, to make the town more equitable.

“I would like to have my kids, who graduated college, be able to come back here and live. I’d like to, myself, be able to live down the road on a fixed income. So I think affordable housing is a big thing,” he said.

Rossillo’s campaign centers not just around his own experience and expertise, but listening to the voices of Dobbs Ferry residents. Right now, Dobbs Ferry has a youth council for students in Dobbs Ferry to become involved in the local government, providing their perspectives on issues and observations. Additionally, Rossillo said that by making village meetings public and broadcasting them over Zoom, residents have more transparency regarding the decisions their government makes.

I think it’s important that we realize that we must adapt. We want to welcome everybody in who has fresh ideas.

— Vincent Rossillo

Rossillo remains committed to evolving and finding new ways forward as a community, in addition to the existing plans he’s worked on or implemented. He said, “I think some people are afraid of change. They like it the way it is here for a particular reason, and don’t want to see any change at all.”

“I think it’s important that we realize that we must adapt. We want to welcome everybody in who has fresh ideas,” Rossillo furthered. “What bothers me is when I hear, ‘Well, we can’t do because it’s always been this way, or we’ve always done it this way.’ We should take a look at it, [and ask] ‘What can we do to make a difference?”

 

Edmond (Ed) Manley | Dobbs Ferry United Party

Manley, a Dobbs local and construction expert, has been working in town government for over 30 years and carries a lot of experience with him. His journey in local politics started in the 1990s when Manley was on the Architectural Review Board in Dobbs. He then transitioned to being a town trustee until 2011, when he stepped down to work in the Dobbs Ferry Buildings Department. There, he helped organize the Department’s system more efficiently and helped digitize all the forms and paperwork to make the department more organized and efficient. Manley has helped make laws and codes like strengthening buildings sprinkler systems, by implementing sprinklers in all new or modified constructions. He’s also helped pass laws that limi the times of year that leaf blowers can be used to just the summer and fall, to reduce sound and air pollution.

One thing that Manley is currently working on is reducing the town’s carbon footprint, and making sure Dobbs Ferry is prepared for the extreme weather that will be a result of climate change. He’s served as the chairman of the Conservation Advisory Board, and is on the Special Climate Resiliency Task Force. Manley plans on continuing to engage in this type of work as mayor.

“We’re working with engineers and professors from Pace University, and we’re meeting once a month with changing our code and our village vision plan to incorporate climate change resiliency,” he said. “We’re looking at the new amount of rainfall that we’re getting and the possibility of extreme heat.”

There’s an office in the Village Hall for the mayor. And in a four-year term, he [Rossillo] hasn’t spent one day in it.

— Ed Manley

Manley’s biggest campaign emphasis was being present in the village. Manley said, “There’s an office in the Village Hall for the mayor. And in a four-year term, he [Rossillo] hasn’t spent one day in it.”*

Manley continued, “I see some jobs and projects that are going on and are very valuable and worthwhile, but I see a lot of waste on them. They’re taking too long, and I think they can just do it more efficiently.” His first changes would be solidifying his city hall presence and spending at least a few days in the mayor’s office weekly, as well as ensuring constant communication with the village administrator.

Another of Manley’s ideas would be to eliminate the parking fees in order to help the local economy in the downtown area. He said, “I don’t even see a reason to charge people to park.”

“If you want your businesses to be successful, and the building values to go up and make a more vibrant downtown, why not just say, no parking fees, we’ll just set a [parking time] limit, and we’ll take our meter people and just have them do a time check,” Manley proposed.

You don’t have to vote, a straight party ticket. I’m running on my own. You’ve got the left, you’ve got the right. I’m here in the middle.

— Ed Manley

When asked if Manley had anything to say to his fellow candidates and voters, he said, “Well, I don’t have anything to say to my fellow candidates. Except for you know, goodbye, hopefully.”

“But to the voters. I’d like to say if you’re on the fence, if you’re looking for a change, you can vote for any trustees you want. You don’t have to vote, a straight party ticket,” he emphasized. “I’m running on my own. You’ve got the left, you’ve got the right. I’m here in the middle. But I’m the guy with the experience.”

 

Justin Kurian | Dobbs Ferry Rivertown Party

Kurian, an author, editor, and lawyer, grew up on Clinton Avenue in Dobbs Ferry. After graduating from Wesleyan University, Kurian traveled the country and the world and lived abroad in Europe and the West Coast. Kurian moved back to Dobbs Ferry to raise his children because he thought it would be a great place to raise his family.

Kurian explained that he has no political agenda and isn’t a career politician. In his words, running for mayor “was more a call from the community to bring some change.”

Kurian noted that the current administration has been in power for a long time in the village. He said, “If you like what you are seeing right now, then maybe I’m not your candidate. But if you want to see change, then I’m the best choice for you.” 

The large question Kurian poses is, “How do we revitalize downtown?” He continued, “We have a really nice downtown, but we don’t take advantage of it.”

Kurian, a strong supporter of the arts, believes that the way to revitalize downtown is by bringing more live music events to the waterfront as well as reopening the theater venue behind the music shop on Cedar street, and even commission sculptures for the village. He feels as though there aren’t enough events and art in town to build stronger community bonds.

Kurian insisted that a cohsesive, inclusive, and involved town is the key to making the village and businesses more money, and making downtown Dobbs Ferry more vibrant. He said the way to achieve that is by making Dobbs Ferry an arts town.

I want this to be a place where people want to grab a coffee downtown, and go listen to a live band they’ve never heard of, and talk about them as they walk home together,” he said.

We have a really nice downtown, but we don’t take advantage of it.

— Justin Kurian

One of Kurian’s largest goals was to be an open-minded mayor who would consult with and take the input of many people in the community in the forms of committees and roundtables. He said, “I like to bring groups together. I don’t want to pretend I’m an expert on everything.”

One committee that Kurian would create once elected would be a group of student representatives from The Masters School, Dobbs Ferry High School, and Mercy University alongside Dobbs Ferry, officials to create more engagement between the schools and the town. Kurian described the schools as isolated and disconnected from the town, and felt strongly that isolation was not good for the village.

When asked about the villages’ growth, and new construction developments, Kurian was weary of supporting many new constructions in the area. Kurian believes that the town should focus on strengthening and improving what they have already, before focusing on the towns’ growth.

He said, “We have to be careful before we make too many new buildings. Traffic is a nightmare. Schools are being filled.” Kurian cautioned that with the town’s already present traffic and overcrowding issues, avoiding excessive growth is essential.

If you like what you are seeing right now, then maybe I’m not your candidate. But if you want to see change, then I’m the best choice for you.

— Justin Kurian

Kurian believes he could be an excellent Mayor due to his time traveling and living abroad. Kurian deeply appreciates it and has it’s best interests in mind, and he would love to use his experiences and observations of what has worked well in other towns, and bring those to the village. He said, “It’s good to bring outside perspectives with inside knowledge.”

Kurian emphasized his love for his hometown. He said, “I care about the village. I care about the schools, I care about everyone. I want to make this a better place to live.”

*Please note, Tower’s editorial board could not verify whether these claims were true or false. Quotes from candidates do not reflect the views of The Masters School or Tower editorial staff, nor are they independently deemed to be true, but rather, are statements candidates made. Quotes are not edited or rewritten.

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