Candidate Profile: Rachel Berkey for Harrison City Council
HARRISON, NY – In the 2021 general election, residents of the Hudson Valley will vote for local officials. In anticipation, Patch has asked candidates in contested races to answer questions about their campaigns and will post candidate profiles as Election Day approaches.
Rachel Berkey is running for election to the Harrison Town board in November. The 69-year-old is running on the Moving Harrison Forward ticket as a Democrat.
Learn more about Berkey at relocationharrisonforward.com
Check out the full Patch Q&A with Rachel Berkey:
David Berkey, husband, 69; Michael Berkey, son, 36; Adam Berkey, son, 32
Does anyone in your family work in politics or in government?
JD – Cardozo Law School; MLS – Palmer School of Library Science and Information Technology (Long Island University); MS – Syracuse University; BA – American University
School Librarian and Media Specialist – 21 years of experience
Previous or current office elected or appointed
N / A
Why are you looking for an elective position?
I am running for elected office because over the past 10 years there has been pervasive partisanship in Harrison. We must move beyond this “status quo” which has limited opportunities for anyone not affiliated with the current administration. Harrison’s municipal government has fallen behind on environmental initiatives and needs to improve our city’s infrastructure to deal with the effects of climate change. Our city must take the necessary steps to achieve Climate Smart Community certification status (Bronze, Silver). We must be transparent in the decision-making of our government. The city’s communication with residents needs to be improved, whether we notify them of impending storms or help them obtain government aid and other information about our municipal services.
The most pressing issue facing our (council, district, etc.) is _______, and that’s what I intend to do about it.
Our residents are very concerned about our flooding issues. I have personally seen the enormous amount of damage to our homes after Hurricane Ida devastated our community. Our local political leaders and those of us who have suffered the devastating effects of the storm must come together to meet and discuss how we are moving forward after this devastation. Specifically, we need to advocate for improved flood mitigation infrastructure, start to carefully assess our zoning approvals, and install an emergency communication network and stormwater management system.
What are the critical differences between you and other candidates for this position?
Our Moving Harrison Forward team is committed to ensuring that the concerns of our residents are heard. We have met countless citizens over the past few months to introduce ourselves and ask them what they think. What changes Harrison should consider to improve the quality of life here and what can we do to help them? Not only will I listen to our residents, but I will be a strong advocate for their needs and concerns.
How do you think the local authorities reacted to the coronavirus? What if something would you have done differently?
I think our local officials have performed well during the coronavirus pandemic. The schools ensured that our students were educated and the businesses and restaurants in the city ensured their survival. We need to be vigilant and ready to deal with both disease and environmental disasters in the future.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform.
We need to address flood related projects, especially plans on how to create a virtual emergency operations center for dispatch, flash flood rescue training, and designation of prepared evacuation sites. We also support the preservation of our trees, parks and green spaces and we oppose over-development.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as proof that you can handle this job?
I have worked my whole life. In college, I took part-time jobs to pay for my tuition and books. After I graduated and moved to New York City, I worked full time as a Contract and Grant Writing Specialist at the Research Foundation at the City University of New York. When my sons were young, I worked as a librarian at Harrison Avenue School. When they were in middle and high school, I accepted a job in New York City as the head librarian at Churchill School and Center, a K-12 school for children with language-related learning disabilities. In this stimulating position, I created a library of 15,000 volumes for students, teachers and parents.
I am goal-oriented and pride myself on my strong work ethic and excellent communication skills.
The best advice ever shared with me was:
“Good, better, better. Never let it sit. Until your good is better and your best is the best. “
What would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
My husband and I chose to live in Harrison because of its sense of community, strong public schools, and friendly people. Our family has thrived here and we always felt like we belonged. I love walking my dog around our neighborhood, while meeting and chatting with my neighbors.
I worked full time while raising our sons, first as a librarian at Harrison Avenue School, then for over 15 years as chief librarian at Churchill School and Center in New York. I am a member of the Board of Trustees of Harrison Children’s Center, Student Advocacy of Westchester, and Trustee of the Jewish Community Center of Harrison.
Our team has been endorsed by U.S. Representative Mondaire Jones, Westchester County Director George Latimer, State Senator Shelley Mayer and Assembly Member Chris Burdick and County Legislators Nancy Barr, Benjamin Boykin and Catherine Parker. We have also been endorsed by the Working Families Party, the Westchester Putnam Central Labor Body and the Building and Trades Council of Westchester / Putnam. The New York League of Conservation Voters have approved Frank Gordon’s candidacy for mayor / supervisor.
These elected officials and organizations support our ideas, qualifications and initiatives so necessary to achieve our goal of ensuring that our residents will always feel that “It’s great living in Harrison”.
Please consider voting for us on Tuesday, November 2nd. Thank you.
Find information on absenteeism and early voting here: Election 2021: New early voting systems in Westchester. To find all of your candidates, as well as state, county and local proposals, follow the links offered by the Election Council: