Hello Pelham! My name is Ariel Spira-Cohen, and I’m seeking to be elected Trustee in the Village of Pelham on March 21st, 2017.
After several years in the New York City metropolitan area, my husband and I moved to Pelham in 2014 right before the birth of our second child. After spending numerous hours touring other Westchester towns, we chose Pelham for its walkable downtown area, diverse community, excellent schools and friendly, laid-back vibe. The true community feel of the town has exceeded our expectations, and we believe we made an excellent choice. Our daughter is a thriving first grader at Hutchinson school and we are active members of the Pelham Jewish Center. Seeking to do more in the community, last year I joined both the Hutchinson PTA and the Citizens Nominating Committee, which recruits school board members.
I was raised in a small town in Massachusetts. Growing up, my parents owned a small business, which I believe is the root of my strong work ethic and ability to think in an entrepreneurial fashion. After college, I served as a community organizer in the Americorps*VISTA program in Puerto Rico, where I learned the importance of relationship building when working in communities. I have also worked for environmental lawyers at Natural Resources Defense Council, and later pursued a PhD in Environmental Health Science from New York University. Since 2009, I’ve been employed in public health as a research scientist.
I am seeking to be elected Trustee because I believe that Pelham needs more out-of-the-box thinkers on the Board that will work to expand the circle of involvement and combine fiscal responsibility with innovation. If elected, I will promote sustainability as an approach to bring residents together, save taxpayers’ money, and preserve the greatest attributes of Pelham for the next generation. Through obtaining grant money and making modest investments, we can be greener AND save money. For example, by mulching leaves we can save costs on waste collection, and by pursuing clean energy retrofits for village facilities, we can save thousands of dollars on heating and fuel costs. Making our town more walkable and bicycle friendly will also help our business community thrive by increasing foot traffic downtown. Many Westchester towns are already much further along in becoming sustainable communities than we are. I want to help us catch up.
The sky is the limit to the sustainability projects we can pursue. But most important is that we pursue these as part of a collective vision for our Village—a vision that includes robust planning and community involvement. We desperately need to update the Village’s Comprehensive Plan to work in conjunction with the proposed zoning changes and put a framework around downtown development. We all want a thriving economic community downtown. We also want to ensure that the development is purposeful and provides benefits to existing residents. To this end, I will bring a strategic planning perspective to the Board and advocate for the establishment of yearly priorities and goals to ensure projects align with the stated goals before moving forward.
Building trust in the community is one of the hallmarks of a good public servant. I’m committed to building that trust with all of you. I hope you choose me and my Democratic running mate Chance Mullen to help move Pelham forward on Election Day, March 21st.
Ariel Spira-Cohen, PhD