This letter appeared in the Scarsdale Inquirer on April 14th, 2017.
Dear Supervisor Feiner:
I am writing on behalf of the Edgemont Incorporation Committee to discuss the certifying and scheduling of the incorporation referendum.
We have reviewed the objections to the petition’s legal sufficiency that were presented to you at the public hearing held April 5, 2017. To make a proper determination (as required by statute), we believe you must apply the same level of scrutiny to the objections as you did to the petition itself. Since none of the objections presented appear to satisfy any of the grounds specified in Village Law § 2-206(1) and none of the objectors who gave testimony, orally or in writing, have thus far satisfied the required burden of proof, we are confident you will certify the petition.
Accordingly, we would like to address the timing of the referendum. Consistent with your publicly stated views in the past, we hope you share our desire to schedule the referendum when the most number of potential voters are likely to be in the area. That way, both sides can appeal to the greatest number of potential voters and the outcome will truly represent the will of the people.
The proposed Village of Edgemont is coterminous with the Greenville Fire District which itself is virtually coterminous with (and includes all of) the Edgemont School District. We’re sure you would agree that holding the referendum when school is in session would maximize voter turnout, an outcome that represents democracy at its fundamental best and one for which you’ve advocated in other elections.
We understand you have discussed with some residents the possibility of scheduling the election when school is not in session. That is alarming. If you employ that approach, voter turnout will suffer due to summer vacations, particularly among those with school-aged children. We trust you will not schedule the referendum in such a manner that is likely to reduce the voter availability or take any similar action to manipulate election results.
Let’s quickly run through the logistics so there’s no confusion: we understand that you are giving qualified Greenburgh residents the full 20 days the law permits (until April 25th) to come forward with valid objections. That’s the legal process, and it should be followed.
The law gives you the flexibility to render and file your decision as early as the following day (April 26th) and, assuming you certified, schedule the election for a date following the required minimum 30 days of filing (as allowed by law, while still allowing anyone with standing to commence a legal challenge to the certification ruling). Accordingly, the referendum election could be as early as May 26th or Memorial Day weekend.
However, you may also take the full 10 days after the objection period of April 25th to make your decision, another full 5 days to file your decision, and then elect to schedule the referendum a full 40 days after the minimum 30 days allowed by law for legal challenge. This could push the election date out to as late as July 20th.
Given the enormous flexibility as to timing afforded to the Supervisor by the statute, and the importance of strong voter turnout for this consequential referendum, we respectfully request that, should you choose to certify, you also announce the date of the referendum to be no later than June 20th so it falls within the school district calendar when most families with school aged children are sure to be home.
We understand that legal challenges could prevent the referendum from being held on any specific day. But assuming none are filed, and you certify the petition, we believe that the process is best served if the referendum date is announced as soon as possible and is held during a time in which the highest number of eligible Edgemont voters are likely to be able to vote.
Delaying notice on the timing of the vote, or scheduling the referendum when residents are more likely to be away, will only serve to further upset the electorate (adding to their existing distaste with recent events surrounding the petition certification period). Despite your stated opposition to incorporation, we trust that you want a fair and just outcome.
We appreciate your consideration on this matter.
Edgemont Incorporation Committee