NORTH CASTLE, N.Y. -- Voters will get to decide in November whether to switch the election of North Castle council members from at-large to a ward system, along with whether to add two more Town Board seats.
The proposals, which come from North White Plains resident Tony Futia, call for having the Town Board's council seats to be elected in geographical districts instead of getting votes from across the town. Futia's other proposal would be to enlarge the Town Board from five members to seven.
The Town Board is currently made up of four council members and a supervisor.
Futia, a retired town employee, describes the referendums as a democratic way to represent people in town.
The local group Concerned Citizens of North Castle will hold a forum regarding the ward proposal. It is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the American Legion Hall in Armonk. Joe Lombardi, Daily Voice's Director of Media Initiatives and Managing Editor, will moderate the forum.
Residents discussed the proposals at the Town Board's Sept. 23 meeting, with the standing of the town's three hamlets a matter included.
Councilwoman Barbara DiGiacinto, referencing the all-Armonk composition of the board, called it "absolutely inconsequential," and brought up that they serve all of the town.
“Our commitment is to every single resident in North Castle,' she said.
DiGiacinto, a lifelong North Castle resident who hosts monthly community meetings in North White Plains, discussed the origin of her initiative, which came following chilly feedback she received when she canvassed in the hamlet as a candidate.
“And I went door to door, and I can't tell you how many people said to me 'We'll never see you again. You're only here when you want to get elected, and that's all I have to say to you,'" she said. “And after hearing that time and time again, I finally responded and I said 'If you for vote for me, you will hear from me again. I will work with you.'”
Some residents talked about non-ward alternatives for the hamlets.
One resident, who voice opposition to the ward system and brought up DiGiacinto's involvement in North White Plains, suggested that there be a "point guard" for Armonk and Banksville as well.
Resident John Diaconis suggested having a task force for North White Plains.
Some residents expressed concern about the nature of a ward system, arguing that there would be a smaller talent pool and speaking against only being able to vote for which ever council member represents a given ward.
Neil Baumann warned that the ward system would be “essentially the United States Congress right here in town.”
Baumann's concern was about board members under a ward system caring more about their district than the town as a whole. He also expressed concern about there being less turnover than under the at-large system.
“You put a ward system in here, this town board will rarely turn over.”
The Town Board voted to move the process along by making referrals to the Town Clerk, who in turn is tasked with getting in touch with the Westchester County Board of Elections. The board declined to act on a third proposal from Futia, which would be to keep the total compensation of the Town Board from growing under an expanded board size, after getting a legal opinion from Town Attorney Roland Baroni.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.