The Sea Cliff Open Government party formed in the wake of what was considered a controversial personnel appointment by the Board of Trustees in November 2016.
When former Village Administrator John Mirando stepped down, then Mayor Bruce Kennedy acted as interim administrator until trustees recommended he take up the position full-time.
Kennedy resigned, and then Deputy Mayor Edward Lieberman accepted an appointment from trustees to complete Kennedy’s term. The new mayor appointed Kennedy as village administrator, Kevin McGilloway as deputy mayor, and Jeff Vitale as trustee.
The proceedings concerned many residents, including Dan Maddock, who up until those appointments was chairman of the Civic Progress Party. Afterwards, he resigned. “I didn’t think it was a valid organization anymore, and some people said, ‘what do you think about forming a new party?’ And I said, I think it’s really time,” he said.
The Open Party hopes to achieve what was accomplished in last year’s election twofold with nominees Liz Baron and Terryl Donovan.
“Locally is where you have the biggest impact, and I was appalled, as many other residents were, about what had happened here with our own government,” Baron said, “So I thought it was the perfect time to get truly involved and make a difference in the community.”
“I come out of an almost 30-year government service background and I know what the appearance of impropriety is, and this certainly passed that test,” Donovan said, referring to the personnel appointments. “I started going to board meetings to watch what was going on, and I do agree that there are some incremental improvements being made, but the work is not done.”
Baron has over 20 years of experience in I.T. but believes the acronym can also stand for “innovating together.” “I see the job of trustee as someone who helps manage business decisions to ensure the residents’ welfare, health and safety are protected,” she said. “That requires working with people collaboratively, and this is exactly what I do. You need to be able to understand perspectives, work across lines of difference and push things forward strategically and tactically.”
Before retiring in 2015, Donovan worked as North Shore School District’s Fine and Performing Arts Director for 13 years. “I worked for a superintendent who was committed to that idea that we were the servants of the [district], and I kept that in mind all the time,” she said. “We received a lot of team building and customer service training, so I definitely have the skills to be able to affect change in a large organization.”
In terms of how Sea Cliff can improve, the candidates’ priorities align. “One of the first things that we really need to do is straighten out our relationships on the board and start working together as a team,” Baron said. “Instead of acrimony and belligerence, we need to work on collaboration, understanding and making good decisions together.”
Donovan favors a five-year strategic plan. “It prioritizes how you tackle issues, and it’s a vehicle to be open and transparent with your constituency,” she said. “[It addresses] where are we, where we want to be, and how can we get there, and that also requires the input of the public.”
Both Baron and Donovan look forward to working with current board members if elected. “[Terryl and I] both have an understanding of professionalizing processes and are keenly interested in feedback,” Baron said. “We want to learn and improve and make this the best possible village for everyone who lives here.”