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Rye Mayoral Candidates Debate Building, City Management

Rye mayoral candidates Nancy Silberkleit, Peter Jovanovich and Joe Sack discuss city issues at a forum held Wednesday.
Rye mayoral candidates Nancy Silberkleit, Peter Jovanovich and Joe Sack discuss city issues at a forum held Wednesday. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

RYE, N.Y. -- Rye mayoral candidates discussed infrastructure, city management and Playland in a forum Wednesday that also saw some personal criticisms between opponents.

Republican Joe Sack and Independents Peter Jovanovich and Nancy Silberkleit are currently vying for the position of the city's mayor after Douglas French decided not to run for re-election. Sack and Jovanovich currently serve on the City Council, while Silberkleit has not held political office. The candidates addressed city issues in a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters.

In discussing infrastructure, Jovanovich said the city has built a lot recently, but needs to address roads, sidewalks and sewers.

"I would start first with our train station plaza. It has reached the end of its economic life, and we've now put patches upon patches," he said. He would also address the intersection of Theodore Fremd Avenue, Purchase Street and Purdy Avenue.

Sack said that capital improvements are important, but the city needs to have deep conversations about which projects need to be funded first.

"The name of the game when it comes to capital improvement projects is prioritizing," he said. He praised recent sidewalk projects. "We need more of that, but the real question is what we can afford to do now and what do we have to put off for tomorrow."

Silberkleit said she would look for creative solutions on raising money for capital projects. One would involve the city selling bricks that could be used to pave pathways and sidewalks.

"I see many other communities with beautiful brick pathways," she said. "Let's start building funds, and put it aside and wait until we have the proper funds and do a proper job."

With recent issues in the city manager's office, including the situations with the Rye Golf Club and Rye TV, Sack said that the city council has not properly done its job in the city manager and making sure he acts honestly and responsibly. Silberkleit said the city manager has had to deal with cutbacks, and that the city should move on and work collaboratively. Jovanovich said that the city manager has had a number of accomplishments, but added that the manager has made mistakes that need to be addressed.

Sustainable Playland is proposing a 95,000 square foot field house as part of its reinvention of Rye Playland. The field house has drawn some questions from neighbors in terms of its potential impact. Jovanovich said that it is important for the mayor to take a stand and assert that Rye has legal authority with regards to what gets built at Playland. Silberkleit said she would act as a voice for the people , and thinks the plan should be re-worked. Sack said that such a large structure is outrageous, and that the City Council has not asked enough questions and scrutinized the plan as much as it should have.

Throughout the debate, there were some barbs thrown back and forth between Jovanovich and Sack. Jovanovich accused Sack of being in the pocket of developers and not having a great attendance record at meetings. Sack said that Jovanovich spread false information in his campaign and was pandering to both sides of issues.

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