Town Council Candidate Kristen Burke Campaign Statement:
I am running for Pelham Town Council on the Democratic and SAM party lines, and I ask for your vote on November 5th.
Those who know me know that I am extremely passionate about many things, especially my family, my community, and my work. I have been a resident of Pelham for almost 10 years, along with my husband Sid Burke, and two kids, Henry (9) and Hannah (6). My mom lives down the street from us, in an apartment in the Manor. Some of my volunteer work in Town has included being head coach of Henry’s Pelham Travel Soccer Team “Nitro” and coaching Pelham Recreation soccer teams for several years, serving as a member of Pelham Country Club’s Legal and Governance and Golf Committees, as well as past President of the Colonial School PTA for the last two years and, before that, head of the Huguenot Parents’ Committee for two years.
I am currently General Counsel for Mercy College, where I head the legal department of the four-campus, over 10,000-student educational system. Prior to that, I worked as Associate General Counsel for CUNY for 8 years, and before that, I was a Rackets Bureau prosecutor in the Bronx DA’s Office for almost 6 years. At Mercy College, our motto is Inserviendo Consummere, which means “consumed in service.” It is an important motto for me, and it guides the work that I do both as a lawyer, and in Pelham, every day.
I intend to bring my passion, skills and experience to Pelham’s Town Council. While I am grateful for my neighbors who have served as Town Council members before me, I believe there are opportunities for improved communication to residents regarding the roles and responsibilities of Town officials, services offered, budget, policies, and more. For example, other Towns and Villages commonly livestream their meetings, and the video is readily available through local websites. We can do that as well, making it much easier for residents to participate at their convenience. For the Town Council to tell community members, as it recently did, that they should have to attend monthly evening meetings to obtain information about Town government, fails to recognize how many residents no longer work a 9-to-5 schedule and is out of touch with how most local governments are currently run (i.e. by livestreaming meetings, sending out communications via email and Facebook, etc.).
There are other innovative ideas that can be implemented, such as easier access to services, improved and broader services, and increased use of the internet to streamline registration and communications. The Recreation Department and the Senior Advocate, in particular, could offer much more programming, like community trips to baseball games and Broadway shows, at little or no cost to the Town. The recent move to online sign-ups for Recreation programming is an improvement, but there are still operational deficiencies across many of the Recreation programs, as well as inadequate information regarding the activities themselves.
Finally, I believe the Town Council must represent both Villages, and all residents. That requires appreciating a wide range of needs, both in terms of demographics (families, young adults, retirees, etc.) and other circumstances (working hours, childcare responsibilities, etc.). Too many residents are unaware of the Town government and how it can serve them, are uncomfortable speaking up about their needs, or don’t know who to talk to about these issues. I intend to meet with residents from a wide range of backgrounds to identify issues to help the Town be more responsive to everyone, and to expand our outreach.
I am excited about this opportunity to use my passion and experience to serve the Town of Pelham. I promise to dedicate the same level of energy and commitment that I bring to other aspects of my life to the Town Council, and I ask for your support.
Town Council Candidate Kristen Burke