CARMEL, N.Y. - Three candidates are vying for two seats on the Carmel Town Board when voters go to the polls for the general election on Nov. 5 and in early voting.
Current councilmen Jonathan Schneider and John Lupinacci have decided not to seek re-election, leaving the two seats wide open. Seeking to fill them are political neophytes Jean Hopper (Democrat) and Robert Schanil Jr. (Republican), along with former town councilman Frank Lombardi (Republican), who also once served as deputy supervisor.
Here’s an up-close look at the three candidates:
Jean Hopper was raised in White Plains and graduated Good Counsel Academy and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, majoring in advertising and communications. She and her husband, David, have been married for 29 years, and have lived in Mahopac for 27 years. Their two grown children, Sophie and Nick, both attended Mahopac Schools and graduated from MHS. Sophie is a teacher in NYC and Nick is active duty in the United States Army.
“I left my 15-year career as a successful retail manager when our children were born,” Hopper said. “I volunteered my time with Scouts, serving as Pack 271 committee chair and Den leader, Girl Scout leader, and adult volunteer. I was active in Fulmar Road PTO, MHS marching band, and MHS Friends of Drama. As our kids got older, I began working part-time as a cook at Katonah-Lewisboro School District and acted as union secretary/treasurer for Local 15-072. I drove a school bus for Brewster Central School District and am currently a teacher’s aide to students with disabilities in KLSD.”
Hopper said her motivation to run for Town Board was to bring integrity, thrift, and foresight back into local government. After attending board meetings for years, she grew frustrated with what she saw as fiscal waste, inefficiency, and inaction.
“Over 20 years of one-party rule has led us to skyrocketing taxes, few services, and officials who lack the courage to act in our best interest,” she said. “I ask for your vote because we care about Carmel, its present and its future. Carmel hasn’t updated its Master Plan for 24 years and counting. I’ll implement a Master Plan that reduces expenditures, protects our resources, improves infrastructure, and reflects all of our values.”
Hopper said the downtown areas have grown stagnant, and there is little incentive for new business.
“I’ll pursue smart economic growth to entice and reward small businesses, generate revenue, and enrich our everyday lives,” she said. “Our lake communities and water are being threatened by toxic algae, runoff and pollutants, and we are losing much of our green spaces. I’ll introduce the Climate Smart initiative that will protect our water, lakes and environment, and provide state grant funding.
“It’s simple,” she concluded. “I am an independent voice with no personal agenda, no favors owed—just intelligent, honest leadership for the issues that affect every one of us, where we live, work, and play.”
Frank Lombardi was born and raised in the Bronx, first-generation Italian American. He has three children who attended Mahopac schools— Anthony, Frank and Alexa.
Lombardi attended Fordham University and graduated with a degree in political science/public administration in 1992. He graduated from St. John’s University School of Law with his J.D. in 1995. While living in the Bronx, he served as chair of Bronx Community Board #10 and president of the Northeast Bronx Senior Center. Upon moving his family to Mahopac in 2003, he served on the town’s Environmental Conservation Board and Planning Board. He was elected to the Town Board in 2010 and served until 2017. He served as deputy supervisor from 2012 to 2017.
He is a member and counsel to the Italian American Club of Mahopac and a fourth-degree member of the Our Lady of the Lakes Council No. 6318 Knights of Columbus.
He volunteers as a coach with the Mahopac Sports Association and a volunteer with the local Boy Scouts. He is a proud Eagle Scout.
“I am running for Town Board because I believe that I have the experience, education, background, passion and vision to serve the people of the town of Carmel,” Lombardi said. “I have been involved in various aspects of town government in the past and I believe that my experience lends itself to the difficult tasks of managing a $32 million budget, over 100 town employees as well as the daily problems that are encountered by the taxpayers of this town. I am raising my children in the town, and I am fortunate to have my parents also living in town so I know the problems and issues involved in raising a family in town and I bring that vision and experience into making the tough decisions that need to be made for the benefit of all the residents.”
Lombardi brings eight years of experience as a Town Board member—six as deputy supervisor—and 23 years as an experienced attorney.
“I bring a common-sense approach to local government and the ability to be a consensus builder to pass legislation such as the banning of the sale of synthetic marijuana and passing a law requiring all new town employees to undergo fingerprinting to protect our taxpayers and our children,” he said. “I also bring my experience as part of the negotiating team on behalf of the town for police and highway department contracts. I have established great relationships with other elected officials in county and state government that will be a benefit to our residents.”
Lombardi said that some of the biggest issues in town continue to be the affordability of residents to raise families here, as well as seniors’ ability to continue to reside in town.
“Keeping taxes low and the quality of services our residents deserve is crucially important,” he said. “We must continue to be one of the safest towns in our state and I will focus on quality-of-life issues as I had during my past tenure.
“We need to work on establishing a better tax base and work with the DEP on a sewer extension on Route 6, which would be a game-changer for our residents, our local businesses and our community as a whole,” he added. “We need to continue to improve our infrastructure, including our roads, water and sewer facilities to made sure our residents have the best possible services for their families.”
Robert Schanil Jr.
Robert Schanil was born in the Bronx and is a longtime Putnam County resident. He grew up in Lake Carmel and is a 1986 graduate of Carmel High School.
He graduated from Westchester Community College in 1988 with an associate’s degree in criminal justice, and from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 1990 with a BS in criminal justice and a minor in sociology.
Upon graduation, he joined the Mount Vernon Police Department. In 1993, Schanil transferred to the Harrison Police Department and rose to the rank of sergeant before retiring in 2010.
He’s been married to his wife, Marlene, for more than 26 years. All four of their children were born at the Putnam Hospital Center and attended and graduated from Carmel High.
“We decided to move to the hamlet of Carmel 21 years ago after our third child was born,” he said. “I see many challenges within our community, with the close proximity to New York City, Carmel/Mahopac maintains its tranquil beauty both as a city suburb and as a rural country community. I look forward to using my education and experience to move the town in a positive direction. I want to make it a better place for all residents to work, live and play. To maintain a community in which couples can purchase an affordable home, start a family and grow, and where our seniors can reside to live beside their grandchildren.”
Schanil said he believes he has the wisdom, experience and knowledge to be an effective and efficient public official.
“I have served as a police officer and have worked collectively many times with others of different backgrounds on large-scale projects,” he said. “I pride myself to attend work regularly, to be on time and prepared to work hard and diligently. I am an individual thinker with a creative mindset who will always put the residents and taxpayers first.
“I look forward to creating a positive vision for the town, which is environmentally safe and geared toward expanding residential and commercial development which is in line with community needs in an effort to ease the tax burden,” he added.
Schanil said the biggest challenges facing Carmel include:
• Balancing a fair budget while understanding the needs of the community and delivering the services they want.
• Environmental issues such as blue/green algae
• Developing open space, recreational parks and sport fields to bring new families to the town and giving seniors and retirees a great place to retreat to
• Keeping cell towers out of residential neighborhoods
• Supporting educational and awareness programs to combat the opioid crisis
• Repairing and replacing infrastructure such as in Water District No. 2
• Continuing to work closely with the Department of Environmental Protection to bring sewer lines from the Mahopac hamlet westbound to Baldwin Place along Route 6
In his free time, Schanil enjoys hunting, fishing and hiking and is a strong proponent of Second Amendment rights.