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Bedford Town Board Q&A: Francis Corcoran

Francis Corcoran is the only incumbent running for a council seat on the Bedford Town Board. He is on the Republican ticket and there are two council seats up for election, with the two candidates who get the most votes winning. Below is a Q&A, which is edited for formatting.

Patch: Why are you running?

Corcoran: I am running so that I may continue to work hard to preserve and enhance the character of our town so Bedford will remain a great place to live, raise a family and to retire.  This is done by (1) keeping Bedford fiscally strong, (2) the quality of services high, and (3) protecting our natural resources for generations to come. My experience as a councilman, as well as my long and solid background in business and broad public service come to bear on achieving these objectives.

I have helped to guide our town through one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression.  I don’t see things getting any easier on the horizon and feel strongly that my skill set will continue to be needed even more so as we face the challenges that lie ahead of us.

Patch: How well do you think the current town board has governed and what, if anything, would you change?

Corcoran: I think that the current board has governed well.  The ability of a board to work well together to achieve its objectives is critical the success of an organization – whether it be a corporation or a town.  In our case, the board must work together to achieve the best outcomes for its citizens and for its future citizens to come.  The board needs to represent the voice of the people and must continue to find ways to reach out and seek their input and support for all issues.  We have come a long way to doing just that over the years through our website and live broadcasts of our meetings.  We need to continue to find ways to bring more and more citizens into the fold.

Patch: How would you describe the town board's current relations with the school boards of Bedford Central and Katonah-Lewisboro? Should the town board work with them more closely on common topics?

Corcoran: The town has a good working relationships with both school bards.  We work closely with them on any issues where there would be an impact on our citizens.  I have worked closely, long with the Supervisor and other members of the board on insuring those things important to the school community that affect their safety, security and taxes are of the highest priority, like the jug handle turn or police presence at Fox Lane for example.

Patch: Earlier this year Patch reported on the possibility of having Bedford Hills and Katonah use alternative wastewater treatment instead of traditional septic systems. Would you support a switch?

Corcoran: I would not only support a switch, but have been advocating for alternative systems for years.  The County and its lawmakers have been inflexible – until most recently at our pushing – to allow our residents to use proven alternative systems for this purpose.  We need to keep the pressure on the County lawmakers to allow our residents to have the ability to protect their water supplies and to use alternative septic systems in order to do that.  It is shameful that the county has been slow to move on this most critical issue to our residents.

Patch: Bedford is among a group of municipalities thinking about doing a joint property revaluation. Should Bedford continue with the process or should it stop?

Corcoran: The idea of a revaluation is a very serious one and should not be taken lightly.  It seems to affect those least able to afford it.  Before any move is made to go down this path, the town would need to educate the citizens on this issue, allow them time to understand the implications of it and seek broad and active input by the community as to whether it is something the town should or should not do.

Patch: The idea of updating Bedford's comprehensive plan was recently brought up by supervisor candidate Chris Burdick during the League of Women Voters candidates' forum. Do you support updating the comprehensive plan?

Corcoran: The comprehensive plan is a guiding document for the town and its boards. Like any guiding document, there is always a need to review it to insure that it reflects the changing nature and needs of the town and its citizens.  The world is not a static place.

Patch: How should Bedford proceed, going forward, with handling Westchester County's affordable housing settlement?

Corcoran: Bedford has always been a leader on the affordable housing front.  We are very active in achieving our affordable housing goals and lead many towns in Westchester on this front.  We are always on the hunt for affordable housing opportunities and continue to create tools for our planning board to use towards that end.  Through Blue Mountain Housing for example, we have created a proactive mechanism for finding, managing and providing affordable housing for our citizens.  It is critically important that we continue to provide our seniors, first responders and others important members of our community with the ability to stay in Bedford.  We have done an incredible job on that front and it will be important for us to fight to insure that our zoning laws are made in Bedford and not in Washington so that we can continue to make our zoning decisions in Bedford where we know what is best for the interest of our citizens.

Patch: Mount Kisco is considering whether to consolidate its police department with the Westchester County Department of Public Safety. Somers and Lewisboro note that they have part-time police departments and have state police support. The town, meanwhile, was given a fiscal projection study that predicts budget deficits for several of the coming years. Should Bedford study a switch to either model as a budgetary savings measure, given the deficits projection?

Corcoran: We are highly cognizant of the budgetary restraints of the town and seek cooperation with other municipalities when it serves the towns interest.  We are very proactive on this front and I would continue to see us leveraging any opportunities that might present themselves.  Bedford has done a tremendous job in managing our resources and a great deal of this is in large part due to the great Department Heads and employees to we have working for us each and every day.  Where they, or we as a board see opportunity to reduce a cost or expense by sharing, we pursue it. Bedford is in a very strong financial position compared to most towns around the state and that has helped to insure that we are always maintaining the highest and quality of service for our citizens without having to compromise our control over it. 

Patch: Bedford's three hamlets have several of their own recreational services, such as separate pools and separate camps. However, given the deficit projections released recently, can having three of each recreational amenity be sustained?  

Corcoran: The town of Bedford has some of the best recreational facilities in the country.  We have much to be proud of on this front. Our Recreation Department and its leadership, manage their budget in such a way as to provide the highest quality of service and product to the residents in a way that keeps the cost down for both the users of the facilities and the programs, while minimizing the costs to the taxpayers. We also have a Recreation Board that is composed of citizens from all three hamlets who do a tremendous job of reaching out to the community and representing their interests. Each hamlet is slightly different and the users of the facilities take great pride in their parks and facilities.  So long as our Recreation Department and our town board continue to keep their eyes on the budgets and the costs to the end-users, I would not foresee us changing the way we provide these resources to our residents.

Patch: How would you describe the relationship between the town board and the merchants in the hamlets? Is there anything you would change?

Corcoran: We need always be there as a town to support the merchants in our hamlets. They provide a tremendous and valuable service to our citizens.  The town should continue to work to find ways to support these local business.  We have worked with them over the years through zoning and parking for example to ensure that they are able to provide the services that are needed for our residents.  And not just for our storefront businesses, but all businesses in our community, for example, I always ask when we go to bid for work for the town if we have reached out to our local service providers to insure they have the opportunity to provide their services to the town.  All these businesses are important to the quality of life we enjoy as residents and it is important that we support them to the best of our abilities.

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