I recently had the pleasure to speak with Andrew Loose, Independent Candidate for Mayor of Dobbs Ferry. I was interested in finding out about Andrew's vision for the future of Dobbs Ferry, particularly as it relates to families. It became very clear that Andrew does not consider himself a politician, rather he sees himself as a concerned citizen who wants to ensure the people's participation in our local government. Come along with me as I recap our fascinating conversation:
Why did you decide to run for Mayor? Well I love Dobbs Ferry. Over the course of living here for 18 years, I have volunteered in other capacities in the village and know I’ve made a positive difference wherever I’ve gone. The stakes are high for Dobbs Ferry and I wanted to lend a voice to the discussion about what is best for the future of the Village. I say that am not a politician, but rather a community leader, parent and neighbor who is interested in what people are thinking and feeling about the village.
What in your life has prepared you to serve as Mayor? In my professional life, I've dedicated many years to working with underserved populations. To be successful in my field, you’ve got to be a strategic thinker and have the highest standards of excellence in order to compete. I've done a lot of work with government at all levels and I know what effective government looks like. I experienced a career transition about fifteen years ago when I moved into fundraising role for the non-profit sector. I worked at The Children's Village which was an incredible learning experience. It was the most gratifying professional role for me and my work there helped me get much more connected into Dobbs Ferry. I am very proud of the work that we did there and I am a big supporter of the mission of The Children's Village. Along the way, I also became involved with the Dobbs Ferry Schools Foundation and the PTSA. Those were both very incredible experiences. I felt like I made a contribution to the quality of life in our village while working with those organizations. I also enjoyed my time spent as coach for the Village’s Recreation Department. I enjoyed getting to know the families of the players and contributing to a sense of community.
What issues do you feel are important to the residents of Dobbs Ferry? I know the people of Dobbs Ferry are worried about our identity as a village. High taxes are a county-wide structural issue and aren’t going away anytime soon. I’m concerned about tax reassessments on our seniors. Mainly, the people of Dobbs Ferry want to feel their voices are heard and I know we can work together to come to win-win solutions. Since I've lived here for almost 18 years, I've heard a lot of the same things coming up: parking, traffic, development, the vitality of the downtown district. Those issues seem to always be on the table. I hope that at some point in the future, we can resolve those and focus more on the quality of life issues.
Why did you choose to move to Dobbs Ferry? It was a happy accident that brought us to Dobbs Ferry. It was my wife's idea to move to Westchester. I didn't really know what we were getting into, but I quickly discovered that Dobbs Ferry is a unique and wonderful place. I'm very dedicated to and have become invested in the village. I've had the fortunate opportunity to raise my children here and they love it and would never want to live anywhere else.
What issues would you like to work on as Mayor? For me, the top priorities are issues that affect our daily quality of life which encompass things such as traffic, pedestrian safety, and village programming for our kids and seniors. I'm interested to hear what people have to say and what they want to see happen. I wonder if there is more we can do with our incredible resources such as the Waterfront, the Aqueduct and our parks. Many families are not lacking for things to do, but there will always be families who need more options. Anything I would propose around this would be based on needs that have been identified and we would work to come up with sustainable ways to fill those gaps. Obviously people are concerned about the impact of development and there are open questions as to what that really means in terms of the stress placed on our infrastructure, our roads and our schools. We must very thoughtfully look at how this is going to play out because we are not yet really seeing the full effect of recent or current developments.
Tell us a little about your family. My son Eliot attends Dobbs Ferry Middle School and my daughter Abigail is a junior at Dobbs Ferry High School. My family and I are very involved in Dobbs Ferry. My wife Jill does a lot of volunteer work and currently is working with RiverArts. The arts are very important to our household. My children are very active and my son plays a lot of sports.
What do you love about raising your family here? I grew up on a farm where I felt very far away from other people, especially in the summer, so I didn't have the benefits of this type of small town atmosphere when I was growing up. I am very happy that my children are able to grow up here where there are so many great people locally and to have easy access to all that New York City and the Hudson Valley has to offer.
What do you do for fun? Mainly running. I love doing half-marathons and have done the New York City Marathon five times. Every time I run on the aqueduct, I feel like the luckiest person alive. There is an active community of runners in the Rivertowns who feel the same way. It's far and away my favorite thing to do. For a change of scenery, I love to run at Rockefeller State Park and Preserve. I also enjoy our proximity to Central Park where there are a lot of racing events.
What are some of your favorite local businesses? In Dobbs Ferry, we are so lucky have so many incredible restaurants in the village. My family loves Sushi Mike's; Sushi Niji, Nonna's Deli (you've got to try the OMG! sandwich); Battaglia Brothers (all their Italian specialties); and the Parlor (go for the pizza, stay for the brussels sprouts), just to name a few of our favorites.
Do you have any advice for new families to the village? It can be hard to move to a new place, but Dobbs Ferry is a wonderful place for new families. I was a stay-at-home parent for two years, and I made a lot of relationships at the playground. That's a very welcoming place for new families to connect. If newcomers have children at Springhurst, I would encourage them to get involved with the school and the PTSA as it's a great way to meet other families.
What else would you like voters to know about you?
I think Dobbs Ferry is the best place I've ever lived, and I like to think that we could continue living here forever. I see why so many families have lived here for generations, they are wanting to believe that they can stay in the village. I think if we can come together and figure out some of our long term challenges, we have a lot going for us, so let's be a community that respects each other and find ways to help Dobbs Ferry remain an incredible place for the next generation to raise their families. Everything we are doing now, we need to be planning for the next generation. We need to look closely at our existing assets, like our pool facility and recreation center and to plan carefully for the needs of not only current residents but also for residents in the future. I feel at times that our government may be so focused on taxes, that they may not be exploring the benefits of making strategic investments in our community that would return value over time. I don't feel that I have all the answers for what our solutions are, but I think the people of Dobbs Ferry do. We need to listen.