One of Westchester County's longest-serving town supervisors is facing a rare challenge at the polls this fall. For the first time in a dozen years, longtime Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner, a Democrat and former county legislator, will have an opponent on Nov. 5.
Independent challenger Lucas Cioffi will be on the ballot this fall appearing on the Greenburgh Party line.
Feiner has served the town as supervisor for the last 28 years. The last time he faced any opposition was in the 2013 Democratic primary election, which Feiner won.
Cioffi, a 39-year-old software engineer and entrepreneur from Edgemont, is making his first run for public office.
Surprisingly, Cioffi said he hears complaints "from two ends of the spectrum:" Those who pay the most in taxes and those who need town services the most. "I don't know why it's not working. I just know the results are lacking," he told Daily Voice.
Cioffi is a U.S. Army veteran, open government advocate, husband and father of two. He was born and raised in Greenburgh and has returned to Edgemont to raise his family. He and his wife, Sandra, are both graduates of Edgemont High School. The West Point graduate served as an infantry officer in Iraq from 2004 to 2005 where he was promoted to captain. He moved back to Hastings-on-Hudson about two years ago before moving to Edgemont in February.
During the five years when he lived in Washington, D.C., Cioffi mobilized 1,500 non-profit professionals, researchers and government leaders in support of the federal government’s Open Government Initiative. He hosted conferences in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, Treasury, Department of Agriculture, General Services Administration and NASA. Cioffi also served three years on the board of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation, collaborating with talented dialogue facilitators working to bridge political and racial divides.
In 2016, Cioffi and his family lived on Market Street in Charlottesville when that neighborhood erupted in race-based violence, making national and international news. He then served on the Charlottesville Community Leadership Council which worked to build bridges in the community in the wake of the violence. His full resume is available online by clicking here.
Cioffi said his campaign "will be bold yet respectful, and without personal attacks."
Greenburgh collects over half a billion dollars in tax revenue from its 90,000 residents, according to Cioffi who said he is seeking election in order to "significantly increase transparency across the board and to give residents a substantial voice in how their tax dollars are spent."
The challenger has scheduled four strategy sessions this month. Details can be found here on his campaign web site. The site includes a video of Cioffi's campaign launch, which also is available by clicking here.
If elected, Cioffi said he will try to reduce spending without cutting services, including making sure the town receives competitive bids for major contracts. For example, the town signed a $5 million contract to clean its water towers after receiving just one bid. Meanwhile, Yonkers received five bids for similar work done for $1.6 million -- or 31 percent lower than the highest bid, according to Cioffi. He thinks towns should do a better job publicizing and sharing information about potential contracts. He said his operating philosophy is data transparency -- providing residents with more data to make sound decisions, more transparency and more voice.
Feiner, 63, said he welcomes Cioffi's energy and ideas.
"I don't dislike him. He seems like a decent person," Feiner said. 'I think I'm better. It's always good in a democracy to have contested elections."
The candidates have been exchanging ideas on a social media platform called "Next Door."
"It always can be run better and more efficiently,'' Feiner said. "I'll implement his ideas"
"I'll be a better supervisor because of it,'' Feiner said, noting Greenburgh operates within the state's tax cap and maintains a AAA bond rating, the highest rating possible, from Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s. Feiner said he's also proud of his accessibility, efforts to improve safety -- including installing many new sidewalks -- doubling the frequency of recycling pickups and becoming the first Westchester municipality to retrofit a field for cricket players.
The supervisor called a push by Edgemont residents to incorporate as the town's seventh village the most pressing issue. Cioffi said that although he resides in Edgemont, he's not taking a position. He hopes to publicize both sides and reach an outcome with no regrets. The issue remains active in the courts.
"Everybody thinks we could probably do a better job," Cioffi said.
Has the longtime supervisor grown too comfortable over time?
"I feel I'm getting more done now than ever in my career,'' Feiner said.
Finally, who is the county's other longest-serving town supervisor? Linda Puglisi of Cortlandt, also elected for the first time in 1992.