Radio Westchester Interviews Richard Thomas, Former Mayor, Councilman, & Comptroller candidate
On Monday, March 9, 2021, Bob Marrone of Radio Westchester interviewed Richard Thomas on the 2021 Mount Vernon Comptroller race, explored his "Performance Platform" to fix the Office of Comptroller, plans to reduce the property tax burden, and revisited his time in public office over the past decade. As COVID changed both our lives and economy, Thomas indicated that he will work with financial industry leaders to structure a new paradigm on financing City operations to revitalize Mount Vernon. He said, “I believe that with the right strategy and the right financial plan, we will be able to REFUND taxpayers thousands of dollars because we got the numbers right.” As the Comptroller, Thomas will make the Finance Department more accessible by staggering hours of operation to be open on nights and weekends, conduct performance audits, develop financial plans to create efficiencies and savings, create a digital dashboard so taxpayers can view and manage their affairs online, as well as work with the administration to generate more wealth for Mount Vernon.
During the interview, the host lamented about the situation with the lack of transparency by current Comptroller Deborah Reynolds. He said, “I do not understand why when you were in office and now that Mayor Shawyn Patterson Howard is in office… why you can’t know the numbers in the city you run. Since I do not know how the current Comptroller does it, what will it take to make those numbers plain and simple and out there?” Thomas replied, “It will be a flip of a switch with me [as comptroller]. I will put [the financial information] on the City’s website as there is nothing to hide. I will add greater transparency than what the new City Charter laws provide for.” Thomas was referring to the new City Charter changes made to the structure of Mount Vernon’s constitution. They require: (i) quarterly reporting by the Comptroller; (ii) a comprehensive plan; (iii) new auditors every five years; and (iv) a new Charter Commission to rewrite the entire City Charter. Under Thomas’ leadership as Comptroller, these changes will improve performance, rebuild trust in City Hall, and assist Mount Vernon in resolving its various issues from Clean Water Act compliance to stopping COVID from killing our economy. Mr. Marrone followed up with a question about the missing $20 million in education funds that Comptroller Deborah Reynolds did not transfer to the Mount Vernon City School District. Thomas explained that the Comptroller problem has been exacerbated as the School District is suing the City for those monies. “My children go to the Mount Vernon City School District… I see, hear, and feel the pain the teachers go through because this Comptroller did not give them their $20 million. Why? It is unclear.” He went on to add that Westchester District Attorney Mimi Rocah is looking at Comptroller Deborah Reynolds and her office. Mr. Marrone noted that the election cycle is going to get nasty, and that Thomas was already put through the ringer for reforming City Hall and asking unsettling questions about the City’s finances. Thomas replied that, “There were so many things that were put out there that were simply not true about me.” While he acknowledged that he made mistakes, learned from those mistakes, and will never ever repeat those mistakes... he added that, “I believe in the truth and people are seeing the truth now that so many of the lies have unraveled and continue to unravel.” For years “the political class” claimed that Thomas caused the problems in Mount Vernon, when in fact the opposite is true. He asked, “Now the real question is how can we trust those that are in office that have the power to solve the Comptroller problem but will not act to rectify the situation?” Thomas asserted that, “I have nothing to gain here other than more grief because I am going to solve the problem.” Mr. Marrone concluded by asking what do you want people to remember from this discussion? Thomas answered, “I do not pretend to be perfect, nor do I pretend to have all the answers. I listen to the people. I learn from them and I am not afraid to lead for the people.” He ended, “As Comptroller I will put the people first and play a leading role in creating equitable changes for fairness and transparency across the board. This is how we will fix Mount Vernon.” For more information, visit www.votethomas.net