BRONXVILLE N.Y. – A state audit that found an operating deficit of $195,000 and the district’s deteriorating infrastructure are just two of the major issues fueling a contested race in the Eastchester Fire District.
The Eastchester Board of Fire Commissioners election will take place Tuesday, Dec.11, and will elect a new commissioner to serve a five-year term. The race will be between Steven Baker, John Palazzolo and incumbent Ray Albanese.
Two of the three candidates met at Bronxville Village Hall on Thursday night to meet the public and to answer questions about their candidacy.
A board of five commissioners oversees the Eastchester Fire Department. The commissioners are responsible for financial policies and procedures, the appointment of department personnel, collective bargaining and general administration. Historically, the election hasn't received a large voter turnout, but last year's election drew a record 1,453 votes.
A major issue facing the board is managing the fire district’s operations and budget of $16.3 million for 2013, said commissioner Jerry Napolitano.
"We're looking for volunteers who are ready to work 15 to 20 hours a week to spread out the work evenly," said Napolitano. "I'm hoping that we get a big turnout as we did last year because what we do really has an impact on the community."
Baker, an attorney in Brooklyn, said he's ready to put in the time and effort to to address what he called the department's financial mismanagement.
"I've served on the Eastchester Zoning Board of Appeals for several years now so I'm no stranger to serving the community," said Baker. "There's no other way to put it, but money has been spent irresponsibly. Now, I don't think anybody is doing anything wrong, but something is definitely wrong. I have the experience to make a difference in the community and to finally rid of this dysfunction."
Albanese acknowledged the department needs work and said he's ready for the challenge.
"I've been on the board for 35 years and my agenda to benefit the taxpayers hasn't changed since Day 1," Albanese said. "The state audit pointed out some faults in our department, but they aren't anything too serious, and they aren't anything that can't be fixed. All I want is to be elected this last time so I can use these next five years to make things right."
Here are the places where you can vote on Tuesday, Dec, 11, from 2 to 9 p.m.
- Eastchester Town Hall, 40 Mill Road: Districts 6, 7, 8, 9, 24, 25, 26, 28, 30, 37, 38 39 and
- LeRoy Gregory Post 979, 40 Bell Road, behind Equinox Gym, Eastchester: Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 23, 27, 29, 34 and 36
- Union Corners Fire Station, 10 Oregon Ave.: Districts 15, 31, and 35
- Tuckahoe Community Center, 71 Columbus Ave., Tuckahoe: Districts 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 32 and 33
- Bronxville Village Hall, 200 Pondfield Road: Districts 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 (All Bronxville Village)