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Three Vie For Open Seat On Millwood Fire Commissioners' Board

Millwood Station 1, where voting will be held for two seats on the Millwood Board of Fire Commissioners.
Millwood Station 1, where voting will be held for two seats on the Millwood Board of Fire Commissioners. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

MILLWOOD, N.Y. -- On Tuesday night, voters in the Millwood Fire District will decide from among three candidates who are running for an open seat on the Board of Fire Commissioners.

The fire district is the taxing and budgetary entity that governs Millwood Fire Company No. 1, which is the fire department. The district serves residents of Millwood, western Chappaqua and New Castle's West End.

Vying for the open seat, which carries a five-year term, are Charles Canero, Michael Wolfensohn and Robert Nesbit.

Additionally, a special election is being held to fill the remaining one year left on Hala Makowska's seat.

Makowska resigned after being elected to a council seat on the New Castle Town Board; her term began at the start of the year.

Jason Lichtenthal, who was appointed by the commissioners to fill Makowska's seat on an interim basis, is running unopposed in the special election.

The board has five seats that have staggered terms. Voting will take place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will be held at Station 1, which is at 100 Millwood Road.

Wolfensohn, who served on the New Castle Town Board from 2007 to 2011 and helped push for the creation of the local 9/11 memorial, told the League of Women Voters in a questionnaire that the fire district's budget and taxes are important priorities.

"Now the job for the Board of Fire Commissioners will be to rein in ongoing costs to stay below the constraints of NYS Tax Cap. I believe my experience on the Town Board will be helpful in this regard."

On the issue of communications with constituents, Wolfensohn told the League, "I will be in favor of any new, cost-effective ways that can be found to keep residents better informed—Millwood’s experience has shown that that works to everyone’s benefit."

Wolfensohn, in the questionnaire, was open to extending the voting window beyond three hours. The window, which is the state minimum, was met with a backlash in Chappaqua during a failed firehouse expansion referendum. State law allows for fire commissioners to voluntarily add voting hours.

"The short voting hours that are typical of most fire district elections in New York caused great dissatisfaction in the recent New Castle Fire District election. It’s possible to extend—but requesting them takes Fire Commissioners who see the need—who understand and are in touch with the concerns of their constituents."

Nesbit runs an executive-recruitment firm, according to the questionnaire. He told the League that recruiting for new members is the fire district's biggest challenge. 

"I'm a huge supporter of full transparency and communication around all decisions that would impact the Fire District's ability to serve the community," Nesbit said in the questionnaire when asked about communications.

Canero, a retired driver for a septic company, has served as an ex-Millwood fire chief and is currently a driving training instructor for it, according to the questionnaire

Canero, in the questionnaire, also stressed the importance of retaining members.

"The goal should always be to provide a superior level of fire protection and aid to our residents. I understand the necessity of maintaining the balance of needs within our community while being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers. I am willing and able to listen and carefully consider all options for addressing issues to ensure the best solution can be made."

On the issue of communications, Canero told the League that he supports a broad range of ways, whether it is social media, email or through newspapers. 

"All government entities need to be open and transparent, especially when dealing with taxpayer dollars."

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