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Staying in our Lane and Focused on Your Local Issues

We are seeking your support (and your vote on November 5th) because we believe we can make a positive difference as your local elected officials.  We know that local government decisions have an impact on everything from your property values to you and your family’s safety and quality of life.   We would take each of those decisions seriously and bring every bit of our expertise, experience, judgement and common sense to Town Hall.

There is no local issue too big or too small for us to address.  Since none of us have aspirations to run for higher office or campaign for anyone else running for higher office, you will find us squarely focused on the local agenda, not an agenda that serves us personally or serves the political masters that we’d need to win an election in Albany or Washington.  And one thing is sure, we will resist the drama and distraction that has become national politics.  Our time will be spent working on local issues and improving our Town, every single day.  That’s called staying in our lane. It is why local government exists and it is what your tax dollars pay for.

We hope you will get to know us better throughout the campaign and get to know the approach we would take to governing and addressing the issues that are important to you.  These tabs start that conversation.  But one thing we know for sure- you can’t run a campaign (or a Town) on Facebook or on a website like this, so we hope you’ll have the time to engage in an actual conversation with us out in Town. We will make ourselves available anytime.

Local Issues

Taxes, Property Values & Fiscal Responsibility

Our conversations with residents have underscored our concerns about increasing taxes, declining property values, and government’s inability to provide important services at a reasonable cost. We believe elected officials at all levels have a fiduciary responsibility to you the taxpayer to address these concerns; and to devote as much time and energy to reducing your tax burden as they do spending your tax dollars.

As local government elected officials we would take seriously the role of responsibly managing Town budgets, and we would also serve as advocates for residents by working with elected officials at the county and state level to support responsible budgets and appropriate levels of service.

We’ve heard from you and see for ourselves: Your Metro-North commute to the city has become longer and less reliable yet more expensive; your property tax bills have continued to increase while you see more potholes than ever; and you are paying more to government and being left with less money to improve your own property or comfortably pay for your own kids college.  The trend carried forward even a few more years is unacceptable and unsustainable.

We must create a more sustainable financial environment for residents. We look forward to having a conversation on this issue throughout the campaign, telling you what we plan to do about it, and with your support, hopefully leading the Town on this issue as elected officials. This is a priority, or else the Town

Development: Finding the right balance between town and country

Commercial Districts

New Castle has three primary business districts: the Chappaqua and Millwood hamlets, and now also, Chappaqua Crossing.  The commercial success of these areas is important to the vitality of our Town:

  • Impact on Resident Lifestyle: New Castle’s commercial districts are part of the experience and vibe of living in Town, and a chance for the community to come together.
  • Impact on Finances and Town-Wide Services: Our commercial districts help broaden our tax base so that, for example, more roads get paved without further burdening residential taxpayers. Many residents never go to our hamlets based on where in Town they live, but they should still benefit from their success.
  • Impact on Property Values: Downtown is the very first thing anyone looking to buy a house in Town experiences- is this the Town you have always dreamed of calling home.
  • Providing New Business and Employment Opportunities: Commercial districts provide an opportunity for local small-business owners to be founded and for part- and full-time employment for our family members.

The Chappaqua downtown infrastructure project is almost complete, NOW WHAT?

On the heels of a long downtown infrastructure improvement project in Chappaqua we are often asked, “Now what happens?”  Downtown will not suddenly be vibrant because the sidewalks are beautiful, but the upgraded visual and underground infrastructure does provide us with a springboard and opportunity to make downtown better than ever.  We believe we are the leaders that can bring residents, commercial property owners, merchants and Chamber of Commerce, and local government together to make Chappaqua and Millwood a destination experience, not just a transactional experience; and ensure that Chappaqua Crossing is a successful, complimentary commercial center as well.

Residential Neighborhoods

Beyond the core commercial zones we have the bucolic residential, country neighborhoods that attracted many of us to our Town in the first place.  As we walked door-to-door this summer and met many of you, we had the opportunity to enjoy time on so many streets; we can attest to the incredible assets these peaceful neighborhoods represent.  We believe the formula for success and the job of local government in these neighborhoods is straightforward: protect those neighborhoods, maintain the roads, make sure safety issues are addressed, and develop recreational opportunities and sidewalks whenever possible.  Beyond that, residents should be left alone to enjoy their homes, families, and peaceful neighborhoods.

Growth

A word about growth.  We are committed to making our commercial districts a better place for residents.  But progress and growth should not be forced on our Town just for the sake of progress and growth.  We must always ask why are we trying to change the Town? Does this benefit the residents of the Town?  Do residents want this?  As elected officials we are not elected to dictate our beliefs on others, we are elected to represent all residents and execute plans that they support and that benefit them and their Town.  You will never hear a Team New Castle elected official ignoring the voices of residents because we think we know better.

Safety & Preparedness

The health and safety of Town residents must be a priority of local government.  Be it a hurricane or nor’easter that takes takes out power and closes our streets, dangers from our road-grade railroad crossing, the reality of a world with too much hate, gun violence and terrorism, or an everyday problem like distracted driving and speeding in residential neighborhoods, our Town must have the capabilities to prevent, respond, and recover.  Preparedness is a vital component.

Aircraft Noise over New Castle

The growing impact of aircraft noise stemming from the approach to Westchester County Airport (HPN) can no longer be ignored.  We believe urgent and committed leadership is required to solve this problem for our community.  Through a combination of professional analysis, resident complaints, and advocacy from elected officials, a solution can be found.  Team New Castle will not kick the can down the road on this issue.

The Environment

We believe environmental leadership is more important than ever.  Making a difference is much more than passing a law that imposes change on our residents, however.  Making a real difference requires a community to come together.  While regulation can be necessary and helpful, it can also polarize residents, financially burden residents, and at the same time still fail to achieve what was intended on paper. The alternative is to inspire residents to try new practices and to change– it can become contagious.

This applies to many areas of environmental concern, but one that has gotten the most attention over the past year in New Castle is the regulation of leaf blowers. Our approach to this issue is not to start by legislating a ban, but to instead pass practical regulation that leads to quieter and cleaner equipment, and then to invest the time to bring the landscaping community and residents together to establish and promote best practices.  That’s right, resolving this issue requires an investment of time, not simply the passage of strict regulation.  It also requires a solid understanding of the issues and concerns of residents and the involvement of New Castle stakeholders.

There is no place for partisanship at the local level

Team New Castle exists to provide gravity to the political pendulum, a pendulum that at the state and national level is swinging further and further everyday. We want to slow that down before it breaks.

We formed a local Independent Party called TEAM NEW CASTLE that will appear on the ballot in November.  It will be the bottom line on the ballot, but you know what? We’re all about the bottom line!  Our opponents chose an adversarial approach that ultimately landed in NY Supreme Court.   We find this adversarial form of ‘leadership’ to be at the heart of what is tearing our communities apart, and we do not want this for our Town.

Jim Smith on Our Facebook Community and Political Labels

Facebook community chatter. Not so productive. It drives residents to tune out, participate less, and potential residents to flee. The good news is the Facebook dumpster fire doesn’t represent the Town I’m seeing from my vantage point running for Town Supervisor. The conversations I’ve had, one at a time over the last seven months, with…

Local Elected Officials and their Politics

by Jim Smith My opponents and their surrogates have deployed a to-be-expected political-attack strategy. It’s time to set the record straight. I have a bi-partisan history focused on specific issues; and I’m proud that I become stronger as a non-partisan candidate every day.  While most of what is said is a diversion back to national politics and…

SAM Party of New York Endorses Jim Smith for New Castle Supervisor, Lauren Levin and Sean Maraynes for Town Board

Team New Castle is proud to announce that New York’s newest political party, the SAM Party, has just announced that we will be their candidates on the ballot for the November election. We are proud to be amongst the very first candidates in New York State that SAM has announced for their party line. See…

Jim on the Bi-Partisan SAM Party Announcement

Team New Castle is proud to announce that New York’s newest political party, the SAM Party, has just announced that we will be their candidates on the ballot for the November election. We are proud to be amongst the very first candidates in New York State that SAM has announced for their party line. See…

An Independent Party to be proud of

After meeting the signature requirement (which appears to have been higher than any candidates in the history of the Town of New Castle) we successfully created the Independent Party, TEAM NEW CASTLE. It’s a rebuke of partisan politics and we hope that eventually elections in our Town will be without party labels similar to the…

Supreme Court Rules Independent Party “TEAM NEW CASTLE” Will Appear on November Ballot

N.Y. Supreme Court Dismisses Petition Challenge Filed by Opponent Pool, Saland and Lichtenthal Surrogates and Attorney Kristen Browde Board of Elections Determination of Validity Stands Can you believe our opponents did this? Following a rare ballot access challenge by surrogates of our opponents and attorney Kristen Browde, New York Supreme Court Justice Janet Malone ruled…

Board of Elections Rules in Favor of “TEAM NEW CASTLE” Ballot Line; Opponents Pool, Saland & Lichtenthal Surrogates hire Kristen Browde to Challenge BOE decision in court.

On Friday, June 14 the bi-partisan Board of Elections (BOE) ruled in favor of Team New Castle and declared that “…the names of James A. Smith, Lauren L. Levin and Sean B. Maraynes will appear on the Independent Party “TEAM NEW CASTLE” ballot…” in November’s election.   That decision of the bi-partisan BOE was not…

A Petition Challenge Update

Additional General Objections filed against Team New Castle petitions We talked to so many people at Town events this weekend, and with more than a few, the conversation led to local elections.  We were asked too many times, “What’s going on with the objections to Team New Castle petitions?” So we’re posting an update to…

Last Call for Democracy

A petition challenge has been filed against us. We have obtained well over the minimum number of signatures required on the Independent Nominating Petition to create a Team New Castle line on the ballot. But to honor the voters whose signatures may be challenged, we are collecting additional signatures up until today’s deadline. We will…

Not Left. Not Right. Forward!

Help Team New Castle collect signatures to create an independent line on the November ballot Why are we seeking a Team New Castle line on the ballot? Before Team New Castle candidates won 6 years ago, the New Castle Democratic Committee held a monopoly on Town government. This monopoly was built on the premise that…

Infrastructure

Over the past six years the Town has made significant infrastructure improvements.  This has of course included the painful, yet important, infrastructure improvements in downtown Chappaqua that had been put off for generations.  It also included a significant increase in the Town’s paving budget.  We believe these were positive steps, and now, as we head into 2020, we believe it is time to take a fresh look and some new action on these and other infrastructure issues; everything from the fundamental concerns for small towns- roads, sidewalks, and sewers- to the future issues, including 5G and energy supply.

We believe the Town must become more thoughtful in the planning process because it ultimately allows us to deliver the most infrastructure for your tax dollar.  While we would all like to have all our roads newly paved and lined with sidewalks, the reality is something different. We won’t make campaign promises to deliver all of that, but we will promise to significantly raise the bar on what the Town can deliver, because we know that is achievable.

Roads must be paved more than once in a generation

A more aggressive Pavement Management Program is required that starts with an accelerated paving program to catch up. We need to convert our reactive program into a proactive program. Our current, reactive strategy means paving is done on a ‘worst first’ basis where there are always a long list of Town roads in poor condition.…