Yaslyn Daniels and Tweeps Phillips Woods are competing to complete the final year of the term of Heidi Bender, who resigned in April. The candidates are presented in alphabetical order.
Why are you seeking a seat on the board? What qualifications do you bring?
Yaslyn Daniels: My family has lived in the Hudson Valley for 27 years — holding fond memories, from the peanut shells on the floor at Henry’s to Friday night dinner at the Dockside surrounded by family and friends, this is home. I have history here. Leaving to go to college (a bachelor’s degree from New York University) and Business School (an MBA from Howard), I proudly came back to introduce friends to this magnificent place and I have the pleasure now to raise my son in our village. I’ve spent five years as a social service consultant, developing policy for the Department of Defense and charitable foundations, and more than 20 years in strategy consulting, driving revenue solutions for small and large businesses. I’m a senior executive managing a team of more than 300 people, supporting $2.5 billion in revenue and an operating budget of $122 million. I’m a founding member of the Putnam County NAACP, a five-year board member of Art in General and a former New York City council member for the Natural Resources Defense Council. I want to protect our village’s unique charm while supporting its growth and evolution. I want to be a voice for our community and use my professional experience to deliver sensible, efficient governance for the village.
Tweeps Phillips Woods: New Yorker born-and-bred, I am the first in my family to go to college. I received a bachelor’s degree in political science and mass communications from Macalester College and a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University. For me, serving my community, my friends and my family has never been just a question of heart or purpose. Service has simply been what I did. I was taught never to sit on the sidelines, but to roll up my sleeves and get dirty making positive change for all. I could brag about my 25 years in government and in political-affairs consulting or about my experience in the private sector and in nonprofit arts and education, but instead I want you to know that I am running because I have been and will always be committed to public service. I didn’t wake up one day recently and decide to run a campaign. I have been serving the village since 2019 as a volunteer on the Recreation Committee and then as an appointee to fill a vacancy on the Board of Trustees [in May].
My husband and I are raising a daughter in Cold Spring. We are committed to our life here, so much so that my husband, a Marine Corps veteran and sergeant in the New York Police Department, has been volunteering as a firefighter for our Cold Spring Fire Company since 2018. I love this community like you do and hope to be able to continue serving you as your trustee, neighbor and friend.
What do you see as the two most important challenges facing Cold Spring in the next two years?
Daniels: The two more pressing challenges are delivering, then maintaining, experienced and impartial electedvVillage leadership that can work transparently and efficiently to meet the needs of our residents and business owners, and generating revenue and financing to support the growing needs of our village. Water security is our most pressing infrastructure need, representing $4 million for the repair of the Upper Dam alone. Our village will need to bond for these funds. Increasing our broadband (Internet) access and its affordability for our residents and local businesses, other physical infrastructure (such as sidewalks, roads and stormwater drainage), and sustainable parking solutions are also needed. Our village needs to develop a sensible, scalable plan that will systematically address each of these needs while remaining responsible to our budget and the individual taxpayer. As trustee, I will be transparent with our community throughout our planning and implementation processes and I will welcome our neighbors’ constructive feedback all along the way.
Woods: The village faces many pressing issues in the next two years. We don’t have the luxury of focusing on just two. They range from limited parking and increased tourism to our aging infrastructure (sewers, sidewalks, dams and roads). We must invest in proactive maintenance now, prioritizing problems that have languished for too long because of a lack of coherent internal processes and scattered management. Additionally, my time on the board has highlighted to me how frustrating it has become to participate in our local government. I want to re-engage this community and empower it to participate in a more thoughtful, approachable and receptive Village Hall.
In August, the Village Board adopted regulations for short-term rentals. The regulations limit the number of STRs allowed in the village through a permit system and also impose other restrictions. Where do you stand on the issue? Are the regulations too lax or too strict? Is making 7 percent of housing eligible to host STRs the right amount?
Daniels: Regulations are an important part of our village life; they help to keep order and limit impacts on our neighbors. It’s important we maintain our neighborly relationships and our community fabric without penalizing those who wish to generate an income through their owned property. Short-term rentals manifest more than one impact or issue: traffic pressure, parking congestion, space and resources to support a growing tourist population, noise and the residential experience of a neighborhood. All of these deserve more research and consideration among residents and our Village Board. We need to approach short-term rentals with real data and a willingness to learn from neighboring villages and towns who have successfully navigated and learned from their own failures on this subject. A re-approach like that can lead us to clearer, sustainable and defensible action.
Woods: Having been director of external affairs at one of the biggest transportation-regulating bodies in the world, I am well-versed in creating fair, enforceable regulations. I believe we can have regulations that protect residents and visitors and are reasonable for the operators of short-term rentals. In its current iteration, the local law will be difficult to enforce. That’s why I voted against it. I look forward to convening a working group of concerned operators and neighbors who want to find a workable, balanced solution with reasonable regulations.
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