Former Scarsdale Mayor Miriam Levitt Flisser’s Balance
Responding to both patients and constituents
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Harvey Flisser explains how they divided the labor “based on talents. Miriam is an excellent organizer, cleaner-upper, detail person. My creativity is in the kitchen.” One of the twins is now a surgeon like his older brother, and their sister is a hedge-fund manager. The Flissers have four grandchildren.
An immigrant who came here as a young child, Levitt Flisser was born in a displaced persons camp in Germany after World War II. Her mother’s family hadn’t left Poland as so many did in the early 1900s, she says, because they were doing well there. They were in the art business. They were all educated; the brothers were engineers. During the war, Levitt Flisser says, “my mother was a ghetto fighter,” who used her education and her ability to speak perfect Polish to convince the guards that she was an official who could come and go as she pleased. “From the outside, she was instrumental in saving her family on the inside. As a result, my grandmother survived the war, which is the most incredible thing. I had a grandmother, and no survivor children had grandmothers! My grandmother lived to be 92.”
Her parents met during the upheaval in Europe. Her father, she says, had gone back, after fighting in the war, to what had been his home, and found everything destroyed. The house had been leveled and his family killed. There was no going back, even though the war was over. In the encampment, her father met one of her uncles, and then the rest of the family. “Everyone always joked that he fell in love with my grandmother, not my mother. This family had a mother!” Levitt Flisser spent her first two years in the camp, and eventually the family, with difficulty, managed to get papers and came to the United States.
Levitt Flisser has been in Scarsdale government as trustee as well as mayor (not to mention being police and fire commissioner), and she says her accomplishments span the entire six years. She points to such projects as the Fox Meadow Drainage Basins, which help control flooding; a change in the law allowing people with smaller properties to have emergency generators to use during power outages; the Emergency Notification System, which she used to send out 180,000 messages after Superstorm Sandy; the budget, brought in under the tax cap; a reduction of expenses related to court cases about tax grievances, which she accomplished with “the first comprehensive revaluation of our real-estate taxes since the early ’70s”; and the creation of a database of people with disabilities, to inform first-responders where there might be people needing special help in an emergency.