PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. – This month the village of Pleasantville will hold an election with four candidates vying for two spots on the Board of Trustees. Two incumbents, Stephen Lopez and Jonathan Cunningham, will be on the ballot as well George Dolce and Colleen Griffin Wagner. Residents will have the opportunity to choose two out of the four candidates. Kevin Martin was originally slated to be on the ballot but it was recently determined that his petition was invalid and his name was removed from the ballot. None of the candidates are affiliated with a national political party.
The Daily Pleasantville spoke with incumbent candidate Jonathan Cunningham about himself and his plans for Pleasantville if he is re-elected on March 20.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Jonathan Cunningham: I’ve lived in Pleasantville since 1989. I’ve been an investment banker most of my career although I retired from that in 2008 to become a corporate financial consultant. I work with CEO and CFOs of generally public companies helping them finance their businesses. I’m married and I have two daughters, a sophomore and a senior in high school.
What sort of organizations or groups are you involved with in the village?
JC: Currently I’m on the board of PCTV. I’m chair of the Village Financial Advisory Committee. I was on the Village Parking Committee way back when. I’ve been involved at Holy Innocents Parish as a parish council member and I was also a treasurer for their CYO program.
During your time on the Board of Trustees, what would you say is your greatest accomplishment?
JC: Well, I’ve been on board for nine years now. My greatest contribution I think has been the organization and analysis that I bring to the board on the finance side and looking at the budget. We take a very meticulous approach to the budget process now. We go through every line item with every department manager or head and question or challenge costs and ask where the departments are trying to go. I have a very good view into the number or costs underlying the village, not just this year but a pretty good view of the numbers going out a few years.
What do you think are the biggest issues right now in Pleasantville?
JC: Our responsibilities as Board of Trustees members is that we are spending the tax payers’ money wisely and we’re providing services that they expect all while keeping public safety in place. So with specific issues, there are some and everybody has their issues, but they come and they go. So for example, if you were to have interviewed me last week, I would have said the DOT towers on the Saw Mill were the biggest issue. And now that’s resolved. But what I would say is that while the towers are solved, the flooding remains a big issue for the village. And now that we have an active and motivated community group effort along with surrounding boards like Mount Pleasant and New Castle, we should continue to push hard on the DOT to come up with a solution to that as well.
How do you think you can continue to resolve issues in Pleasantville if you are re-elected?
JC: The advantage of some experience is that there’s a learning curve for someone coming into this position, especially if you haven’t been to any of our meetings, and we’re open. We do this in the sunlight as they say. It is a daunting task to go through so one of the advantages as an incumbent is that I don’t have to relearn that stuff. I’m going to continue doing the same thing that I’ve been doing, which is challenging the finances, making sure that we’re getting the best return on our tax dollar and pushing our services as far as they can go for the dollars that we spend. It doesn’t get cheaper each year, as much as I would it to. You need to learn how to do more with less and that is something that I think comes with experience.