From Town Hall to cyberspace, the two candidates running in the Democratic primary for Greenburgh supervisor have debated informally for years, but this week was different.
Challenger Bob Bernstein finally received the opportunity to challenge 22-year incumbent Paul Feiner on a level playing field, with hundreds of people watching and cameras rolling.
At a debate Tuesday in Hastings-on-Hastings, Bernstein was afforded equal talking time—unlike public meetings of the past—to confront Feiner on his policy decisions, several of which have cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
The Edgemont civic leader and attorney repeatedly put Feiner on the defensive, whose uneasiness began to show as the night unfolded.
“You’re flip-flopping constantly. You’re starting to sound like me,” Feiner said to the shock of many in the audience, before later claiming, “Everything you say is untrue.”
Feiner did attack back on several occasions, referencing a malpractice suit at Bernstein’s former firm law firm. Feiner also accused him of wasting Greenburgh’s resources through his involvement in several lawsuits over town issues.
But the conversation focused primarily on Feiner’s handling of two town-controlled properties—the former WestHELP shelter and Frank’s Nursery.
The county-owned apartment complex was once Greenburgh’s largest source of non-tax revenue, but it has remained vacant for almost two years. Feiner touted his plans to have a developer renovate and rent the 108 units there. Those plans, however, remain shrouded in uncertainty as two Westchester lawmakers pursue options to reclaim the property. (For more from the debate on WestHELP, read here.)
“WestHELP is illustrative of Paul’s mismanagement,” said Bernstein, who received the town Democratic committee’s endorsement.
As for Frank’s, Bernstein criticized Feiner for failing to sell the property after Greenburgh acquired it through tax foreclosure. The town tried to lease the contaminated former nursery, which violated the law. Feiner then pushed forward with a deal to sell the property, spurning a higher offer. The sale was eventually put on indefinite hold.
Voters will head to the polls on Sept. 10 for the primary, which essentially decides the election in this heavily-Democratic town.
Photo: Bob Bernstein, left, and Greenburgh supervisor Paul Feiner participated in a debate Tuesday night.