Three candidates for two town board seats stress connections, experience


Silmara Sucena photo, left; Madison Cohen photo, right

Democrat Kara McLoughlin (l.) and Republican Tade Reen won seats on the town board.

All three candidates for two Pelham Town Council seats up for election Nov. 2 stressed their connections and experience in interviews with the Pelham Examiner, while Kara McLoughlin, the lone Democrat running, said she wants to work with the community to decide what to do with space in Town Hall that will become available when the Village of Pelham Police vacate it for the new municipal center.

The two town board seats are the only contested local race on the ballot. Republican Councilwoman Rae Szymanski is running for reelection and Tade Reen is on the GOP ticket with her, while McLoughlin is seeking a four-year term for the Democrats. GOP Councilman Timothy Case is not running for reelection.

Democrat Solange Bitol-Hansen, who had been announced with McLoughlin in June, dropped out of the race due to career changes, said Pelham Town Democratic Chairwoman Marin Zielinski.

While the loss of Bitol-Hansen weakens the Democrats’ hand, the party looks to be repeating its strategy of 2019, when Democrats Kristen Burke and Maura Curtin ran for town council and the party left the three other town posts uncontested. Burke and Curtin won, becoming the first Democrats elected to the board in at least two decades.

GOP Town Supervisor Dan McLaughlin, Town Clerk Antoinette Clemente and Receiver of Taxes Catherine Mazzaro are on the ballot without Democratic opposition. The receiver of taxes serves a four-year term; the supervisor and town clerk are on the ballot every two years.

In the Village of Pelham, there is a full slate for the Democrats with no GOP opposition. Democratic Mayor Chance Mullen is running for reelection alongside trustees Mike Carpenter and Lisa Hill-Ries and newcomer Donald Otondi. Trustee Ariel Spira-Cohen is stepping down.

In the town contest, incumbent Szymanski said she would like to keep on running a well-managed town government. “I would like to see continued training programs for all town staff—for example, customer service programs,” Szymanski said.

She cited her background in the medical field as a benefit to Pelham. “I’ve been a nurse for 50 years, helping to have an understanding of the health and safety needs of all residents,” she said. “Whether it be the provision of emergency services, disaster planning or helping to manage town services through a pandemic.”

McLoughlin said she is active in community service, which has led to a large network of connections that she intends to make use of: “I will reach out and listen to all Pelham residents (through surveys, social media, regular mail, monthly coffees) to explore ideas and suggestions on how recreation, the library and senior programs can better serve our residents.”

She said she wants to oversee the re-purposing of the Town Hall space. “In the near future, the Village of Pelham Police Department will be vacating Town Hall and moving into the new Pelham municipal building,” McLoughlin said. “If elected, I would work with community groups to help determine the best use of this space beneficial to the entire community.”

“From my involvement in coaching youth football, boys and girls youth lacrosse and being on the board of directors for Pelham Youth Lacrosse, I’m in contact with a lot of residents on a daily basis and have a massive network,” said Reen. “I’m friends with Pelham natives and residents who are policemen, firemen, gas station owners, taxi drivers, and of course, the commuter types. And I’ve listened to them all.”

“Pelham is a great place, but like anywhere else, there are areas that need improvement,” he said. “As a town councilman, I will do everything possible to assist both villages in providing and improving services.”

Otondi, the presumptive new Pelham trustee, has been a resident of the village since 2007 and is married with three children. He works for Montefiore Medical Center as a senior project manager. He was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. He also assists his mother in running a primary school in Kenya. 

This story originally ran in the print edition of the Pelham Examiner.

Correction: Silmara Sucena took the picture of Kara McLoughlin in the print edition. The photo credit was left out.