In Tarrytown 
Challenging For Change

Tarrytown First Mayoral and Trustee candidatesIn Tarrytown, four individuals will challenge the current mayor and three of his trustees for the right to lead the Village for the next two years.  They are Karl Hagstrom, running for Mayor, and Trustee candidates Alison Boldyrev, Dawn Brehony and Stephan Wilgermein.

At the top of the ticket Karl Hagstrom is a 20-year veteran of the NYPD with thirteen of those years in a supervisory role. He has also served 18 years in the Navy and Coast Guard Reserves and most recently worked in security and counter terrorism roles with firms in Westchester County and New York City. Married with children who attend local schools, Hagstrom could best be described as a critical thinker, attentive to detail, trim and athletic. He does not mince his words and yet is not abrasive; he is rather firm and also courteous which comes from a sense of confidence. Regarding the mountain of debt that Tarrytown has accrued he said, “Starting in early 2008 there were red flags in the economy that called for caution in governmental spending. Unfortunately the current administration never changed gears and simply continued to spend, spend, spend. It was as if someone was asleep at the switch and that has continued to this day. There has been a complete lack of oversight in Tarrytown government.” Hagstrom believes the position of Mayor demands strong leadership. “Unfortunately our current mayor has abdicated his role of leadership to the Village Administrator, who I might add, has an obscene compensation package,” he said. “Anyone who remembers the tragic deaths of two Village workers over Labor Day weekend saw firsthand a Mayor literally standing behind the Village Administrator during a press conference. He let an Administrator set an improper tone for the Village’s response to those deaths. That’s not leadership,” Hagstrom added.

Trustee candidate Alison Boldyrev is a 2000 graduate of Marymount College who worked as a cyto-genetic technologist in both pre- and post-natal work at Genzyme Genetics. A Biology major in college she is currently raising a family and also managing her husband’s company. According to her she is doing just fine with both responsibilities. Boldyrev has thrown her hat into the electoral process because she sees Tarrytown as an extension of her family. “There are a lot of positive things about our Village, however, I know that much more can be done. I am a real believer in justice and keeping people together. Currently, Tarrytown residents don’t know what’s going on because the present Board is not transparent. I watch people who have the courage to speak before the Mayor and the Board. They pour their hearts out, and the looks on Board members’ faces show that they don’t get the message. The Mayor and the Board have put up a wall and it has become ‘the people versus the wall’ in Tarrytown,” Boldyrev said.

Tarrytown Trustee candidate Dawn Brehony is the mother of three young children and a graduate of Saint John’s School of Law. She has worked in Manhattan as a corporate attorney and as such is quite familiar with budgeting and deficit spending. “I see a government in Tarrytown that is not concerned about people’s finances,” she said. The forty-plus million dollars of debt that Tarrytown carries is roughly 2 ½ times larger than neighboring villages, and Brehony feels that the Village is not on the right track with its ever-burgeoning budget. In addition, she reiterated a common theme of residents attending Board meetings or watching them on television. “There is a total disconnect between residents talking from their hearts to the Board and simply not being heard,” she said. The Board is simply not interested in really listening, according to Brehony, and she knows that Tarrytown has to get back on the “right track” with regard to spending, leadership and a willingness to hear and act on sound recommendations from residents. She echoed the theme of “inclusion” that her “Tarrytown First” party seeks to reinstate, from seniors to young parents. This inclusion will start with monthly meetings where the public can talk about relevant issues in an informal setting.

Stefan (Steve) Wilgermein has lived in Tarrytown over a period of twenty years and has two grown children. He has worked for the County of Westchester for the past 34 years and is currently a supervising operator at a waste water management plant in Yonkers. He received both “confined space” and “haz-mat” (hazardous materials) training seventeen years ago in 1994 and has had refresher courses on an annual basis ever since. The confined space deaths of Anthony Ruggiero and John Kelly over Labor Day weekend catapulted Wilgermein to “step up and do something” about Tarrytown’s lack of accountability. “I went to Board meetings and saw firsthand that no one on the Board acknowledged their mistakes. Safety in the workplace is a right! It’s not an added benefit. Workers have to be protected and that comes from training,” Wilgermein said. Late last year he joined the Tarrytown Volunteer Fire Department because he felt his experience in confined space training could be of use to members in all the companies. His son is currently a 1st Lieutenant with the Washington Engine Ladder Company on Route 119. “I have come to realize that without personal involvement nothing will really change in our government. We need to get a grip on our spending and the debt it has saddled residents with. We also need to have the safety of our workers be a Village priority. We need accountability and leadership,” he added.

The theme of a lack of leadership coupled with a lack of accountability in spending, and exacerbated by the perception of an insular Mayor and Board, has prompted the Tarrytown First Party to coalesce and challenge the incumbents on March 15. Their platform is to reintroduce leadership and responsibility within government and to stop the alienation of residents courageous enough to question the current administration.

 

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About the Author: Robert Bonvento