The Pound Ridge Democratic Committee has announced its full candidate slate for the 2021 election cycle. Supervisor Kevin Hansan and Pound Ridge Town Board members Dan Paschkes and Diane Briggs will seek reelection, while Drifa Segal and Renee Motola are first-time candidates, for receiver of taxes and town justice, respectively.
The Pound Ridge Republican Committee will not endorse a slate this year, chairman Joseph Zaino confirmed this week, effectively ceding next November’s local elections to the Democratic candidates.
“We considered the seismic shift in the political makeup of the town the last few years in favor of the Democrats,” Mr. Zaino wrote in an email. “The level of campaigning and fundraising necessary to overcome such a deficit would likely not be achievable in an environment still impacted by COVID. As a result, we decided to sit this one out,” he concluded.
If Debbie Damascus, the current receiver of taxes, had opted to seek reelection, she would have had the town committee’s support. However, Ms. Damascus is retiring at the end of her term on Dec. 31 after almost 23 years of service.
“It’s extremely bittersweet for me because we’ve always been like a family here in the Town House and I have a great affection for the residents who would come to my window, have a cookie and share news. I will miss them greatly,” Ms. Damascus told The Record-Review.
In the meantime, Mr. Zaino said the Republican Committee will focus on staying engaged at the county level and looking ahead toward important mid-term and state elections in 2022.
A breakdown of enrollment data from the state Board of Elections shows that Democrats outnumber Republicans in every town in Westchester County except for Somers. In Pound Ridge, Democrats now outnumber Republicans by nearly 2-1.
“This is just incredible for a town that was previously red for 100 years,” said Roslyn Stone-Pollock, chairwoman of the Pound Ridge Democratic Committee. Even with these favorable odds, Ms. Stone-Pollock’s approach to this fall’s election is anything but lackadaisical. “We don’t take this responsibility lightly. We still need to present these candidates to the community and make sure everyone knows who they are, why they’re running, and why they should get your vote,” she said.
Mr. Hansan, who has served two terms since 2017, is a 26-year resident of Pound Ridge who was new to politics when elected supervisor four years ago. He is founder of ImageWork Technologies Corporation, an information technology consulting and systems integration company. He and his wife, Kathy, are parents to two children, both of whom graduated from Pound Ridge Elementary School and Fox Lane middle and high schools.
Mr. Hansan ran his first campaign pledging to keep a lid on local taxes and to promote Pound Ridge as a wonderful place to live. “I just feel like there’s still a lot of things I want to get accomplished,” Mr. Hansan said in an interview. “I think we’re on a good path right now.”
Ms. Briggs is finishing up her first-term on the town board. She has been a town resident for more than 20 years and, along with her husband, raised three children in Pound Ridge. She is a professional fundraiser for a local private school.
Since her election in 2017, Ms. Briggs has served on the Economic Development Committee and helped oversee the long-awaited demolition of 77 Westchester Ave., paving the way for a soon-to-be-built Village Green. She also sits on the Comprehensive Plan Committee and led the town’s Complete Count Committee during the data collection period for the 2020 Census.
Mr. Paschkes is also the longest sitting member of the town board, serving in his fifth term.
A practicing local attorney, Mr. Paschkes moved to Pound Ridge as a child and returned to raise his family in town. Mr. Paschkes is involved in the Pound Ridge Lions Club and the Pound Ridge Volunteer Ambulance Corps. He is currently the town’s New Dawn Resource Center representative, and also serves as liaison to the Landmarks and Historic District Commission, Open Space Acquisitions Committee and Zoning Board of Appeals.
In 2015, Mr. Paschkes ran against Richard Lyman for town supervisor and was defeated by 129 votes.
Ms. Motola, a 22-year resident, is principal law clerk in the New York State Supreme Court in White Plains. Previously, she was a senior court attorney in the Westchester Family Court. She is a graduate of St. John’s University School of Law. Her three children attended the Bedford Central School District.
As a town justice, she would handle matters such as night arraignments and jury trials, as well as appear as an attorney in other jurisdictions throughout Westchester and Putnam counties. Ms. Motola is seeking to fill the vacancy left by the late Justice Ira Clair, who died in January.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Ms. Stone-Pollock, a close friend of the late justice, regarding his sudden death. Not long before his passing, she shared, Mr. Clair met with Ms. Motola and identified her as an “unbelievably qualified” future candidate for town justice. Among the five candidates for town justice interviewed by the Democratic Committee, Ms. Motola stood out for her “depth of experience and knowledge of the community,” according to Ms. Stone-Pollock.
Ms. Segal, a resident of six years, is the office supervisor at a children’s therapy center in Mount Kisco. Previously she worked as senior project manager at AT&T for 17 years. Ms. Segal has a son who attends Fox Lane Middle School.
After being recommended by several residents, Ms. Segal was interviewed by the entire Democratic Committee as a potential candidate for the receiver of taxes. “She can bring a skillset, project management in particular, just so apropos for this position,” Ms. Stone-Pollock said.