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: Councilman John M. Martin, running to fill a 2-year term on the White Plains Common Council
How Long in White Plains/Where: 29 years, currently lives in Gedney Farms neighborhood
Family: Wwife Patty; son Timothy, 21; daughter Kathleen, 20; son Daniel 17, Iona Prep; son Ryan, 16, Iona Prep
Job Title/Profession: Founder of All New York Title Agency in downtown White Plains in 1995 with two partners, General Counsel for the company handling all legal aspects
Education: J.D. Pace University School of Law; B.S Business Administration, Villanova University
Other activities and current/past involvement: Vice Chair White Plains Urban Renewal Agency (1994-1997); Chair White Plains Comprehensive Plan Management Group (1994-1997); Chair/Member White Plains Board of Assessment Review (1996-2011); Co-Chair White Plains Comprehensive Plan Update Committee; Chair/Treasurer White Plains Business Improvement District (1997-2011); Founder and Chair White Plains St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee (1997-2011); President Fisher Hill Neighborhood Association (1991-1992)
Run for office before: Appointed to the White Plains Common Council from 1994-95; appointed again in April 2011
Endorsements: Democratic, Working Families, Independence
Why are you running for a seat on the White Plains Common Council?
I was appointed to the common council at the end of April 2011 to fill the vacancy created by the election of Mayor Tom Roach. I believe that my extensive experience in many areas of our city provides the strong background needed by a City leader. These experiences will benefit all of us as we seek ways to move our city forward in these uncertain times.
What makes you the best candidate for a seat on the council? What would you bring to the council as a member?
As noted already, my community involvement is extensive and varied. This experience—combined with what I have learned as a downtown businessman for 25 years (15 of which as a business owner)—provide me with a somewhat unique background as a councilman. I believe that we need my private sector experience in our City government, having managed my company through multiple down-cycles.
Explain your stance on the following issues, and how you would address these issues as a council member?
Parking: Although parking is a common source of complaint, we do have a large number of spaces available to our shoppers and office workers. That being said, there are particular areas where we can improve parking, one of which is in the heart of downtown.
I strongly support the acquisition of the existing (closed) garage at Lyons Place and its replacement with a new garage to alleviate the parking shortage along Post Road and Mamaroneck Avenue.
In addition we did approve the construction of a new surface lot along Post Road at the site of the former Bengal Tiger. This lot, which should soon be operational, will also help this underserved area. Finally, I support expansion of our multi-space meters, a program I supported at its inception in 1995.
Property Taxes: This is an area I am particularly sensitive to. As a businessman, I know full well that we all are facing rising costs while our incoming dollars are stagnant or even falling. The City is no different, so we need to do, as I do daily, and find ways to provide the same services in the most cost efficient ways possible.
We need to scrutinize every expense, no matter how small to determine if it is necessary. We need to look for new ways of providing services where these methods result in lower costs.
Our City government is definitely doing this now.
As a member of our Board of Assessment Review I saw how the growing tax challenges are slowly shifting the tax burden to our homeowners. Our assessment system (as well as most of the county’s) is broken. We need to take a hard look at this and find a way to rebalance so that all taxpayers are paying their fair share.
The French-American School of New York’s plans for the former Ridgeway Country Club: This school currently has an application pending before the City and there is much data to be supplied to the Council for review, so I would not be doing my duty to the citizens to give an opinion on the merits of the application at this point.
Also, at this time we are studying a possible rezoning of this area and other large open spaces where much information is still to come in.
I can report that there are significant concerns that must be addressed before the school’s application could be approved. While not an exhaustive list, traffic flow and volume, neighborhood impact, and wetlands issues are very serious concerns that must be addressed.
What are other issues facing the city you feel are important, and how would you address these issues?
Our Comprehensive Plan was completed in 1997. Such plans are generally considered to have a 15-year “lifespan.” Although we did do an update to our Plan in 2006, that update specifically recommended that we get going on a new Comprehensive Plan so we don’t leave an outdated plan in place.
Much has happened in our city since 1997. We need to go back to our citizens and get their input on what we want to see happen over the next 15 years. The time is ripe to get this effort started and I will be advocating this if elected.
Our Business Improvement District is a great asset to our city. Aside from all the great events put on by our BID such as the downtown street festivals and New Years Eve, the BID provides other significant services.
Services include street cleaning as well as interfacing with City departments, and smooth the way for new businesses. We need to expand the boundaries of our BID to include important gateway areas like the train station and White Plains Hospital so that these areas can gain the important benefits of the BID. I will be strongly advocating for this expansion if elected.
What is your favorite thing about White Plains?
White Plains is a great “large-small” city. We have so much here for us from any shopping you can think of to entertainment to a great downtown office and now residential area. At the same time we’re still a small town in that our neighborhoods remain largely the same over all these years and neighbors know each other, families live here for years and we are such a diverse community