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New Castle Council Candidates Face Off At Forum

Left to right: Jeremy Saland, Hala Makowska, Seth Chodosh and Eileen Gallagher.
Left to right: Jeremy Saland, Hala Makowska, Seth Chodosh and Eileen Gallagher. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- In one of the last events of what has been a contested (and contentious) election cycle, the four candidates for a pair of New Castle council seats spoke at a forum on Thursday.

The tickets include the Democratic slate, called "One New Castle," which is made up of Hala Makowska and Jeremy Saland. The opposing slate, called "Team New Castle," has the Republican ballot line. Its candidates include Eileen Gallagher and Seth Chodosh.

The Team New Castle candidates are running on a slate with incumbent Supervisor Rob Greenstein, who is seeking a second term. The One New Castle candidates is running with supervisor candidate Victoria Alzapiedi. This campaigns have been tense, as the tickets have exchanged criticisms over campaign literature and each other's positions. 

Saland, the son of a former state senator and who once worked in the Manhattan District Attorney's office, sought to avoid making big pledges.

“I can't stand before all of you and promise you if you elect me I am going to do something 'x' or 'y,'” he said. “What I can promise you is that I will diligent, I will be thoughtful, I will be considerate, I will put my best foot forward to represent the people of New Castle.”

Makowska, who is chair of the Millwood Board of Fire Commissioners and helped end a 25-year saga to build a new firehouse, noted that there several local issues still pending, such as status of Chappaqua Crossing and Conifer Realty's affordable-housing proposal by Hunts Place.

“I believe that our town is at a tipping point and that the next years will be critical.”

Gallagher, who covered town government as a freelance writer for "Inside Chappaqua," spoke about her hardline on the Conifer plan, which has been controversially locally due to its location by a highway and train tracks. She noted her attendance at meetings and a letter to the county's federal housing monitor expressing concerns as examples.

“I believe that my ongoing commitment in action and in written statements is one of the issues that sets me apart from the other candidates."

Chodosh, who grew up in town and returned last year with his family, runs a pet-care business in Manhattan. He said that his strength is to consider other viewpoints on issues.

One question pertained to hypothetical developments, such as moving town hall and the police station to Chappaqua Crossing or the develop the train station parking lot. Gallagher said she would listen to what others think before making decision, while Chodosh expressed a willingness to consider changes if they help with the local tax base. Makowska preferred to let the town's master plan update process play out at this time, while Saland expressed strong concerns about moving town services to Chappaqua Crossing, saying, “it will make our downtown a ghost town and it will be dangerous for our downtown.”

Candidates also weighed in on the proposal from Sunshine to expand its children's rehab center in the West End of town. Makowska, who lives near Sunshine, praised its work for kids but expressed concerns about how the town has handled the environmental-review process. Saland acknowledged that with Sunshine, and other major projects, there are people who live near by and have concerns about what is proposed. Gallagher declined to make up her mind on the project for now but would decide should she need to get involved. Only Chodosh took an overt position, saying he would “probably fully support it.”

Video of the full forum is available here, with council seat discussion starting at around the 20-minute mark.

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