Election season is upon us again, and White Plains has races on Nov. 8 for seats on the White Plains Common Council and Westchester County Board of Legislators.
Read below to learn more about one of the candidates, and click to find out who else is running.
Meet the Candidate: Benjamin Boykin II
How Long in White Plains/Where: has lived in White Plains for 22 years, currently lives in the Soundview neighborhood
Family: wife Carsandra; daughters LaSandra and Evelyn Nicole, both White Plains High School graduates
Job Title/Profession: President of Ben Boykin & Associates, financial planning and consulting; Former Assistant Treasurer, Nabisco, Inc.
Education: M.B.A. with Honors, Kellogg Business School at Northwestern University; B.S. in Accounting, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Phi Beta Kappa graduate; Certified Public Accountant
Other activities and current/past involvement: Chairman Shared Services Committee for the City and School District; former chairman and member, Budget & Management Advisory Committee; former Vice President White Plains School Board; former Member White Plains School Board; board of directors, White Plains Outdoors Arts Festival; board of directors, Meals-on-Wheels of White Plains; past treasurer, Lois Bronz Child Development Center; member, Union Baptist Church; member, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity;former trustee, Bennett College
Run for office before: White Plains Common Council Member since 2000; White Plains Common Council President (April 2011 – Present; 2008 – 2009; 2002 – 2003); a member of the White Plains Board of Education for seven years
Endorsements: Democratic, Independence, Working Families
Why are you running for a seat on the White Plains Common Council?
I am seeking re-election to my fourth term on the common council (each term is four years). I have served on the White Plains Common Council since 2000. Prior to my election to the common council, I served seven years a member of the White Plains School Board of Education.
I am an experienced leader with an outstanding record of working to enhance our quality of life. While we have achieved much during my three terms on the council, there is much more work to be done.
I want to continue working for our future to improve our financial condition and keep property taxes low; protect the charm and character of our neighborhoods; support public safety initiatives to protect our residents; create new and preserve existing workforce housing; protect our environment using green technology; alternative fuels and other sustainable practices; make our government more transparent and more responsive; and establish a downtown trolley.
What makes you the best candidate for a seat on the council? What would you bring to the council as a member?
I provide the residents of White Plains with experienced leadership; focus on city and community issues and integrity. I have a keen understanding of the issues facing our city and I am constantly seeking ways to provide services to our residents in the most cost effective manner.
Given the numerous challenges and opportunities facing our city, my significant financial experience and governmental service are key leadership skills needed for our future. I have an outstanding record of working hard to enhance the quality of life for all residents in our city.
Explain your stance on the following issues, and how you would address these issues as a council member?
Parking: As council president, I have worked with the administration to make parking more user friendly. The increase in multi-space meters with instructions printed on the parking receipt will make it easier and convenient to add time using your mobile phone. Overtime ticket rates have been adjusted to simplify the process and make it easier to comply.
I have requested that the administration work with the owners of the Lyons Place garage to reopen this closed facility to address parking shortages in this area. I supported the purchase of the former Bengal Tiger site, which will soon add additional parking in our downtown area.
I have been working for an energy efficient trolley to reduce vehicle traffic, improve pedestrian safety, lower emissions into the environment and provide a fun and enjoyable way to get around downtown. New bicycle racks have been added at the Transcenter and Renaissance Plaza to reduce vehicle traffic and ease parking.
The administration is studying certain parking options, if feasible, will provide a significant benefit to residents to park in downtown garages. Parking is a difficult and complex issue. I am committed to continue to seek ways to improve our parking experience.
Property Taxes: The City’s financial condition has been negatively impacted by the recession, increasing health care and pension costs and the continuing decline in our assessment rolls. Our residents are hurting.
As chairman of the Shared Services Committee and former chairman of the Budget & Management Advisory Committee, I have been leading efforts to reduce spending through cost controls, consolidations and efficiency improvements to keep property taxes low, while continuing to maintain and deliver high quality services to residents.
My financial leadership has helped reduce costs by over $5 million. With the 2 percent property tax cap enacted by the State, my financial skills will be keenly needed to help the City manage this new reality. It will be my goal to continue to manage our workforce and to implement new ways to deliver high quality services to our residents in the most efficient and cost effective way.
I will continue to work to keep our property taxes low. Our difficult financial environment will continue for several years.
The French-American School of New York’s Plans for the former Ridgeway Country Club: One of my key initiatives is to protect the charm and character of our neighborhoods. I have met and will continue to meet with residents to listen, gather information and to discuss their issues.
As an elected official, I have many issues and concerns regarding the FASNY proposal. These issues include, but are not limited to, traffic and environmental impact. Traffic on our major highways and cut through traffic in the neighborhoods is a major issue.
Environmentally, the golf course acts as a natural sponge. How will proposed changes affect water conditions in the neighborhoods, on downstream communities and the air quality?
Beyond these issues, we have to understand the impact on the City’s infrastructure, the demands on our public safety resources and other City services. The overall economic impact of the proposal must be fully evaluated and understood.
The proposed use of a large portion of the property for public purposes through outright gift/easement, etc. has not been articulated or developed.
This proposal has to fit within the neighborhood/density and its compatibility with the Comprehensive Plan. I am seeking information, analyzing data and giving tremendous thought to this proposal, which will be a long and detailed process.
What are other issues facing the city you feel are important, and how would you address these issues?
As council president, I understand issues facing all areas of our City. I work to resolve issues for residents through meetings, telephone discussions, emails and social media. In various neighborhoods, we have illegal housing and overcrowding, cut through traffic, inappropriate development, noise, parking issues, the 287 reconstruction, and trash/debris issues.
I have voted to strengthen zoning codes, supported the establishment of the Safe Housing Task Force, fighting to enforce existing laws, voted for numerous pieces of legislation to improve police and firefighting technology and working to make planning strategies more appropriate for our changing city.
I will continue to work for our future to enhance the quality of life for all of our residents.
What is your favorite thing about White Plains?
Our city has beautiful neighborhoods with a diverse population. The strength of our city is its diversity. We have a vibrant downtown surrounded by suburban neighborhoods.
Anything else you would like to add?
It is an honor and privilege to serve as your councilman since 2000. I appreciate the support that I have received from the residents of White Plains. I ask for your vote on Nov. 8 so that I can continue to working for our future as your councilman.