Here’s the last installment of Meet the Candidates. Francesca Hagadus-McHale is a current town board member who is seeking another term. In this interview, she describes some of the challenges to governing a sprawling town like Mt. Pleasant. Feel free to share this and/or the previous interviews with fellow voters. We’re working together for an informed electorate. Now, for Franceca…
IP: Francesca Hagadus- McHale is a current Mt. Pleasant town board member running for re-election. Hi, Francesca, thanks for doing this interview with Indivisible Pleasantville. Some of our members may not know what a town board member does so please tell us about your role and responsibilities.
Francesca Hagadus-McHale: As a Councilwoman on the Mt. Pleasant Town Board, I attend work sessions every second Tuesday to listen to residents as they outline proposals and questions ranging from requests to build new structures, additions, solar farm installations, traffic issues, water quality, to the building of the North 60 Project. We also discuss personnel, budgeting and other financial matters. On the alternate Tuesdays, I appear on the air with the rest of the Board on the air to discuss the agenda and to take questions from the floor about many of the abovementioned issues, as well as others on the Residents’ minds.
IP: What do you bring to this job; what experiences in your background make you a good fit for this position?
FH:I have been a Resident of Mount Pleasant on and off since I was 12 years old. I attended Pocantico Hills School, and Sleepy Hollow High School. I moved, with my family, to Pleasantville 26 years ago and have seen the changes over the years. I am a teacher and former Department Chair, so I am used to meeting the needs of a large group of people and managing a budget. I am very active in the political arena, striving for justice and transparency.
IP: You’ve been on the town board for about a year now. Tell us about your contributions.
FH: I have expedited the passing of the Home Rule law which adds a 3% fee to any hotel stay in Mount Pleasant, This fee goes directly to the Town of Mount Pleasant.
---I have met and toured both the Hawthorne/Cedar Knolls and Cottage School campuses which serve New York’s most needy children. I attended a joint meeting Chaired by NYS Senator Peter Harckham on how to best help these schools. There is a significant part of the community that promotes fear of these children. I am striving to mitigate this fear by encouraging community involvement and the resources to recruit, train and retain support staff to work with the children and ensure Town security.
---I have promoted Mount Pleasant as ONE Town with diverse Villages and hamlets. Because Sleepy Hollow High School won the Metro award for Best Overall High School Theater Production, I invited the entire cast, parents and teachers to a Board meeting to receive a Proclamation acknowledging this honor. Also invited were two Briarcliff High School students who had received top Metro awards.
---I attended two meetings at the Mount Pleasant Library sponsored by NYS Senator Pete Harckham where I answered questions from the Residents. For example, it was pointed out that there are many vacant stores in Valhalla and Hawthorne. I am looking into ways to fill these vacancies as retail is very difficult to maintain tenants.
---I have also met with Westchester County Offices to address the dangerous intersection in front of the Hawthorne Train Station. Elwood Avenue is Town maintained, but Commerce Street is County maintained. As a result, planning is very near completion for a better traffic flow, in order to avoid further pedestrian danger.
IP: Running for office is very demanding as we can see from your Facebook posts. Why are you running again?
FH: I ran for a one-year term to fill a vacancy. I won handily, with a mandate. I am now running for a full four-year term, so that I can continue the work I began in this term. It is very important to have both parties represented on the Board, to keep it from being a “club”, and maintain transparency. As the first Democrat elected in 30 years, I intend to continue to bring my vision for ONE Town of Mount Pleasant working together to remain forward-thinking.
IP: What else would you like to tell our members?
FH: Mount Pleasant is very large. It has the unincorporated hamlets of Valhalla, Hawthorne, Thornwood and Pocantico Hills. There are two incorporated Villages of Sleepy Hollow and Pleasantville, both with Mayors and Board of Trustees. There is a part of Briarcliff Manor and a part of Chappaqua in Mount Pleasant as well. Our children attend schools in the districts of Valhalla, Mt. Pleasant (Westlake), Armonk ( Byram Hills), Pleasantville, Chappaqua, Briarcliff, Pocantico Hills and Sleepy Hollow in addition to the two Special Acts Schools of Hawthorne/Cedar Knolls and The Cottage School. Maintaining a “ONE Town” vision needs a great deal of ongoing effort.
IP: Francesca, thanks for helping us inform our membership. Best of luck.