Town Supervisor Paul Feiner does not live in any of the three local fire districts which are having their annual elections today – but he is once again trying to influence the outcomes in at least two of them – Hartsdale and Fairview – in hopes of gaining more influence over them.
Under state law, the three professional fire districts that together serve most of unincorporated Greenburgh operate independently of town government, which is not supposed to play any role in firefighting.
In Edgemont, incumbent Greenville Fire Commisssioner Jon Faust is running unopposed for a second five-year term, but fire commissioner Walter Groden, appearing at last night’s ECC meeting, urged all Edgemont residents to vote in today’s election anyway out of concern that Mr. Feiner may have one of his supporters run as a write-in candidate. A low turnout could result in an unknown write-in candidate winning the election.
“A large voter turnout in Edgemont, even where the election is uncontested, will send a strong message to Greenburgh town hall to leave our fire district alone,” Mr. Groden said.
Polls are open at the Greenville Firehouse on Central Avenue across the street from Ben’s Restaurant between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. today.
In Hartsdale, Mr. Feiner is running his own candidate in an attempt to defeat incumbent Anthony Frasca. Last night, anyone in the 10530 zip code, including several hundred Edgemont residents, received robo calls from Mr. Feiner on behalf of Mr. Frasca’s opponent, lawyer Guy Novo.
Mr. Feiner has been waging a campaign over the past ten years trying to persuade the three fire districts to consolidate. His effort gained no traction in Edgemont, where merging the Greenville fire district with the fire districts in Fairview and Hartsdale would increase Edgemont’s fire taxes by at least 24%.
But Mr. Feiner is still pushing for consolidation in Fairview and Hartsdale and thinks that electing fire commissioners there who support consolidation will make that happen. Those opposed to consolidation fear Mr. Feiner is looking to take control of the fire districts – and more importantly their budgets – and take decision-making out of the hands of the local communities that the individual fire districts serve.
In Hartsdale, the firefighters’ union today issued a letter urging residents there to support Mr. Frasca, saying Mr. Feiner’s candidate, Mr. Novo, whom the union interviewed, has no knowledge or experience dealing with matters involving fire safety, and misled them by saying he had no “agenda.”
In its letter, the union said that Mr. Novo told them he had no “agenda,” but then told the Scarsdale Inquirer that he was running in order to remove the Hartsdale fire district’s “dispatcher” position.
“Mr. Novo admitted to us that he had no knowledge of the Fire District or its operations and he had no agenda, yet he has an agenda to remove the Dispatcher position which has a direct negative effect on the response times of the Fire District and increasing the safety risk to the Taxpayers and the Members,” the union said.
“Emergency services rely on trust. There may be disagreement about policy and tactics,” the union said, “but we cannot have a Commissioner that will set across from us and intentionally mislead those whose lives depend on him/her. The families of Emergency service workers more importantly depend on that trust,” the union added.
Eliminating the dispatcher position would not reduce personnel costs in Hartsdale because the dispatcher would be moved to a firefighter role.
Voting in Hartsdale will take place today from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Station 2, 300 West Hartsdale Avenue.