Seeks thriving village but finds ‘Pelham Manor leadership is broken’

To the editor:

How many businesses can you name that stood still over time and survived? You already know the answer: it’s none. If they don’t evolve, they die. Just ask Kodak or Blockbuster. The same is true for towns, villages and people. We all have to grow and evolve, just to continue to exist, let alone thrive.

I’m committed to a thriving Pelham Manor. I want our village to have an inspiring vision and an engaged community working together to achieve it; candid, multi-directional dialogue in the community and a passion for always doing better. However, I don’t believe that thriving can happen with the current village mayor and trustees, people who hold onto the past by doggedly claiming they’re doing exactly the right things for the village just as they’ve always done, in spite of a chorus of voices telling them otherwise.

I don’t share this conclusion lightly. I study, consult to and teach about leadership and teams across a range of industries and in the public and private sectors. I know from countless examples what makes effective leadership, and what makes broken leadership. Effective leadership is transparent, inspiring, candid, forward-thinking, strategic, humble and service driven. I’ve seen a lot of effective leadership in Pelham, in local organizations, schools and faith-based groups. Broken leadership is covert, disingenuous, stuck in the past and self-congratulatory. Current Village of Pelham Manor leadership is broken.

As a gay dad of three, and a white father in a multiracial family, I have tried to engage in the civic process in Pelham Manor, and I know from first-hand experience how current village leadership ignores and censors voices that don’t fit with their agenda. I’m here to tell you that the current leadership does not adequately represent the breadth of voices in Pelham Manor. It is time for this selective, self-serving representation to end.

Let me be clear: I’m not talking about partisan politics. Their behavior is why Pelham Manor leadership should not be reelected, not their party affiliation.

I want to share some specific examples:

  • Current village leadership gives the appearance of transparency while keeping critical governing and financial information opaque. Budgets are not fully explained or shared, and executive session is inappropriately used at nearly every public meeting to keep what should be public conversations private.
  • Views challenging the current village leaders’ are disrespected or simply ignored, as seen with the hundreds of residents who asked for a vote on the timing of elections, with Black and Brown community members who asked for concrete action on issues of race and to be part of the Executive Order 203 process or with LGBTQ community members and allies who asked for visibility during Pride Month. None of these requests were met with a spirit of “How can we make this happen?” but rather a spirit of, “How can we justify our refusal?”
  • Current village leadership lack the will or skill to grow, claiming that they’re already doing exactly what Pelham Manor needs in every conceivable way—policing, elections, efficiency, transparency—despite a chorus of voices to the contrary.
  • They’re routinely evasive with their fellow village residents when asked for open dialogue on important issues, rather than demonstrating real curiosity toward other views.

It is time to elect new leadership who will give voice to all residents of Pelham Manor. My experience of the Pelham Manor Forward team—Ramsey McGrory, Andrea Ziegelman and Lance Koonce—is that they will lead with openness and will welcome input from all residents on all issues that impact the Manor. Their goal as leaders is to sincerely consider all voices, whether in agreement or not, and to move Pelham Manor forward together as one community. This is the kind of leadership the Village of Pelham Manor needs today and for the future.

Steve Salee

528 Stellar Ave.