Drew Fixell – Tarrytown – Incumbent Mayor
Drew Fixell has lived on North Washington Street in Tarrytown since 1985 with his wife and two daughters who have gone through the public school system. Fixell worked for the State Comptroller's office, monitoring the New York City budget. Currently, Fixell is the Chief Financial Officer for a private financial investment firm. Fixell was on the Board of Trustees for five years and has been mayor for almost six years. He is running for his fourth term.
1) Name some of your proudest accomplishments in office.
Completing Village Hall, the fire houses and expanding the RiverWalk. Keeping our finances stable and having our bond rating increase from A1 to AA2. Expanding open space and parks. Protecting our water infrastructure with our water main replacement program. Keeping our tax increases low and at the same time maintaining services in tough economic times.
We've also made a lot of stride on the environmental front. We got a grant for solar panels to be installed on Village Hall. We got a grant for a hybrid senior bus, we have put reasonable controls on gas-powered leaf blowers.
2) Can you name any mistakes that have been made over the past two years, or things you would do differently?
I am assuming you are referring to the Labor Day tragedy. Early on in the process there were mistakes in how we communicated and we didn't properly foresee how that would be portrayed in the media.
On the policy/process side of the village operations, I regret that we weren't able to accelerate or slightly delay the timing for bidding-out some of our major capital projects, as it turned out that the bids went out at just about time that construction cost reached their peaks. I also regret that we did not hire our part-time grants specialist sooner – he has been remarkably successful and clearly a great investment.
3) Some people have advocated for the removal of village staff and members of the fire department, or, that these individuals should step down. What is your position on this?
I think they are wrong and it's inappropriate. I don't think discussion during a campaign on personnel issues is appropriate. The calls come from a lack of understanding and from people who are incorrect. Our staff does an overall excellent job. We're going through the process mandated by law and civil service recommendations.
4) The village is roughly $41 million dollars in long-term debt. Do you feel this is dangerous?
No, I don't. Our bond rating upgrade clearly demonstrates we have a stable financial outlook. It is a real testament to the stability of our financial status.
If you look at the details of our debt, 70 percent of the new debt is Village Hall, two fire houses, water main replacements and the restoration of a seawall around Pierson Park which was deteriorated. Regardless of whether we went ahead with park improvements, we had to do that. All of those projects had been recognized by prior administrations as absolutely necessary projects.
5) How do you feel about the tone of discourse at Village Hall trustee meetings?
Up until six months ago, we had relatively few people come in with a negative tone. Since the tragedy in September, there has been a lot of anger expressed. I'm not happy with what has taken place and it is a bit disappointing to have that kind of atmosphere take over.
6) What is the biggest obstacle to overcome in the next two years?
The economic environment and the policies of New York State and how they affect our finances. We're in very difficult economic times and we face an enormous amount of mandates and restrictions that lower our revenues and raise our expenditures, and we have no control over it all. The budget issues are the most difficult and pressing going forward.
7) Have you been, or are you currently, involved in any government committees, civic organizations or volunteer efforts?
Right now I am on the Westchester County Transportation Board, the County Executive's Tappan Zee Bridge Task Force, it's a bi-county task force. I am the First Vice President of the Westchester Municipal Officials Association. I've been on the Architectural Review Board and the Waterfront Advisory Committee prior to getting on the board. I was the leader of an ad hoc group that came together to oppose a concrete crushing plant on the waterfront.
8) Are you in favor of re-starting a lawsuit with Sleepy Hollow over traffic mitigation plans pertaining to the GM development?
From what we learned when the plan was originally put together several years ago, there was a very strong likelihood there would be serious negative traffic impacts on Tarrytown. What we did at the time was file a lawsuit and recommended that the proposed traffic mitigation plans were inadequate and would require Tarrytown to take all the actions, like removing parking and increasing flow on Route 9. We proposed they should take a hard look at the project and reconfigure it so there is less commercial and residential density. That lawsuit is on hold, but we still believe in the general principle underlying the lawsuit.
The current iteration of the GM plan is largely the same and we have to decide how to move forward. We don't wish to stop or delay the project. We'll see if we can work with Sleepy Hollow to see if there is a way to handle this without going back to court.
9) How do you feel about shared services? Do you approve of the proposed plan to consolidate the Parks and Recreation departments of the two villages and the school district under the leadership of TUFSD?
It's a broad-based plan. The general outlines of the proposal appear to make a lot of sense, but it is not something we would ever implement right away. The plan allows us to hire specialized staff members to handle field maintenance and recreation activities, and would allow us to expand our programs and potentially save money. The outline still has the village maintaining control of decisions. Of course, the devil will be in the details.
10) Are there any final comments or issues you think are important that you would like to share with our readers?
I think our record has been an excellent one. We have gotten projects done, made the village a better place, brought in millions in grants, finances are stable and we've improved and updated our laws. We created a committee system which brought over 100 residents into really active involvement in the community. I think we've seen a vibrancy that few other communities have seen.