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Larchmont Candidates Convene in Uncontested Debate

LARCHMONT, N.Y. – The Larchmont-Mamaroneck League of Women Voters (LWV) held a forum Thursday night in Larchmont Village Hall for the three Democratic candidates each running unopposed for office in the March 20 elections.

Anne McAndrews is running for mayor, while incumbent Trustees Marlene Kolbert and Peter Fanelli are running for reelection. While Kolbert has served on the board for 10 years, Fanelli recently assumed the seat of Jaine Elkind Eney after she accepted an appointment to the Mamaroneck Town Board Jan. 18.

Although just a few residents turned out, LMC-TV broadcast the forum live as the candidates fielded questions prepared by the LWV, including what they considered to be the biggest challenge facing Larchmont.

"The challenge is to keep what we have," said McAndrews, who compared Larchmont to a "lovely old house, full of charm and capable of great surprises."

Despite increasing pension costs and the 2 percent tax levy, McAndrews said, the village is in a good financial position. All three candidates noted Mayor Josh Mandell's contract negotiations with the police and fire departments , which were adopted at the end of 2011 and will freeze wage increases at 1.5 percent and significantly increase new employee's health care contributions. As a result, McAndrews said, the village is well below the tax cap this year.

"We are in the very fortunate position in the village in this moment because the people who work for us understood the difficult financial times and we have worked together," Kolbert said.

The village faces several long-term financial challenges, including an aging infrastructure and decreasing assessed values. Discussing the idea of consolidating towns, Kolbert said it hasn't been done in her 45 years in the village for a reason. "I think it's a tricky question of how you do this," she said. While Kolbert said consolidation of services, like garbage, can and do work, Fanelli said he wants Larchmont to have its own emergency services, responding to the idea of an inter-municipal detectives department.

All candidates also promoted more volunteerism in the community. "My biggest message is to just get involved," said Fanelli, who has been doing just that as a stage hand for the Semi-Royal Shakespeare Company leading up to their six performances this weekend.

Fanelli, who ran for trustee as a Republican in the village's last contested election in 2006, said he aspired to be an "ACE," an acronym for which he said is someone with the right attitude, commitment and enthusiasm.

Asked about the affordable housing units being built on 2101 and 2013 Palmer Ave., Kolbert said the board has no real involvement because it is a Westchester County program and Larchmont's planning board has declared itself lead agency. However, she, and the other two candidates, said they welcome the addition to the community.

To watch the LWV Candidate Forum, visit LMC-TV for the re-broadcast schedule, or to view it On Demand in the coming days.

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