Incumbent John Kirkpatrick is one of six candidates running for the White Plains Common Council on Nov. 5. Kirkpatrick, who is running under the Democratic, Working Family and Independent ballot lines, was appointed to the Common Council in January to fill the vacancy caused by the election of David Buchwald to the state Assembly.
Prior to his appointment, Kirkpatrick participated in writing all versions of the White Plains Comprehensive Plan adopted since the late 70's. He also served as a consultant to the City on the comprehensive revisions to the Zoning Ordinance adopted in 1982.Kirkpatrick has served with the city's Sustainability and Environmental Enhancement Committee, Cub Scouts, White Plains Beautification Foundation,
Rotary, Downtown Business Improvement District and the Friendly
He currently works as an attorney, practicing land use and environmental law.
Below are Kirkpatrick's responses to a questionnaire sent out by Patch.
Occupation: City Planner and Environmental Attorney
Patch: Why did you decide to run for election?
Kirkpatrick: White Plains has been good to me. My three kids all attended White Plains public schools. I got my law degree here. I believe in White Plains and what it stands for.
Patch: What personal or professional experiences qualify you to serve on the common council?
Kirkpatrick: My wife Susan and I moved to Westchester almost 40 years ago to take a job in Rye. We found an apartment in the Carhart neighborhood, and fell in love with this City. After all, where else can you find the convenience, good government, population diversity, excellent services, great schools and reasonable taxes that we enjoy here?
We stayed, have lived in three neighborhoods, raised a family and very happily call this home. Our three kids are proud graduates of the White Plains Public Schools.
I’ve been active since the first year here, beginning with the Comprehensive Plan Revision that was then underway. We co-founded the Carhart Neighborhood Association and I served as its Vice- President for three years.
We moved to Quinby Avenue and I held several positions in the Fisher Hill Association, including its Code Enforcement Chair. In that position, I worked with the Corporation Counsel’s Office on issues such as illegal rooming houses.
I’ve been a Cub Scouts Pack and Den Leader; a Member of the Friendly Gathering Board; and Co-Chair of the City’s Open Space Committee. I have also been a member for 30 years of Ridgeview Congregational Church, including service as Trustee and Moderator.
Professionally, I have been active in the American Planning Association, the NY State Bar Association’s Land Use Committee, and the Board of Directors of the Legal Aid Society. I chaired the Pro Bono Committee for the Westchester County Bar Association; was Westchester Chapter Chair of the NY League of Conservation Voters; and am presently Secretary of the Friends of Westchester County Parks.
I have a BA in Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania; a Masters of Regional Planning from Cornell University; and a Juris Doctorate from Pace University School of Law.
Patch: What is the top issue facing city residents?
Maintaining the City we all know and love. This means balancing a thriving downtown with preservation of our residential neighborhoods; continuing to provide quality services while keeping taxes reasonable; preserving our parks and open spaces; and continuing open and transparent decision-making.
Patch: Describe your campaign platform or how you differentiate yourself from your opponents' platforms?
Kirkpatrick: In addition to the above, it is important that we look to the future. Having been involved in the comprehensive plan processes of the 1970s and 1990s, and active in the Citizens Plan Committee that advocated for the short update performed seven years ago, I know the need for a new comprehensive plan. We cannot leave an outdated plan in place.
This must be however be pursued in a fiscally responsible manner, using citizen-volunteer involvement to both concentrate the scope of study areas and directly perform many of those studies.
Patch: Should you be elected, what would you like to achieve over the course of your term?
Kirkpatrick: Grow the tax base in order to keep taxes reasonable; find more efficient ways to maintain City services; and update the Comprehensive Plan.
Patch: If elected, how do you feel you will balance of the concerns of the city's businesses community with the concerns of all your other constituents?
Kirkpatrick: Our City should not be made of competing groups. We are in this together. The balanced preservation of the many elements of the City is important to us all.