Former Scarsdale Mayor Miriam Levitt Flisser’s Balance

Responding to both patients and constituents



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Scarsdale has a non-partisan government, but when I ask whether that helps things run more smoothly, she says, “There’s always opposition, and that’s fine. That’s democracy. We were able to rise to the occasion and learn from folks who have other ideas.” A look at the news sites that cover Scarsdale, such as scarsdale10583.com, reveals some angry, frustrated comments about her handling of Superstorm Sandy and the long power outages and blocked roads afterward. Friend and Scarsdale resident Landau is one of many who take a different view, saying, “She was extraordinary in leading the city. The phone system conked out right away, despite assurances from the people who provided it, so they improvised with a hookup to the old copper lines they found somewhere. She organized daily briefings over the phone to everybody in Scarsdale. She went so far as to provide pet shelters, and she maintained her medical practice at the same time.” 

In some cases, Levitt Flisser says people misinterpreted her actions—for example, those who felt her daily storm update phone messages were rushed. “People said that I just wanted to get off the phone,” she says. “Well, I was speaking so quickly because I had a limited time and I wanted to get all the information in there. I was doing it at the emergency headquarters; people were running in and out, doors were slamming, and  I’m trying to get it right.” It had to be done in three straight minutes, she says, without a mistake, and so was very challenging. 

Levitt Flisser is now the Republican candidate in the legislative race, in what she expects to be “a lively, contested election.” Her opponent is White Plains Councilman Ben Boykin (who has not responded to requests for comments for this article). Asked if she was ready for a countywide seat with a more diverse constituency, Levitt Flisser points out that she’s lived in the County for 38 years, and that her medical work “involves thousands of families that come from all over.” 

For all her accomplishments, Levitt Flisser is described as very “down-to-earth” by Lawrence Hospital Center Emergency Room volunteer Judy Martin, who met her when, as president of the Auxiliary (volunteers), she had a place on the hospital’s Board of Governors. “She’s a warm, wonderful person,” Martin says. “We don’t see her patients coming in the ER for coughs or earaches, because she takes care of them herself. She’s a terrific dresser, and she loves to get a bargain. I saw her one time and she said, ‘What do you think of my jacket?’ She told me the price and it was absolutely ridiculous, it was such a bargain. And then she told me, ‘I got it at Bloomingdale’s!’”

Ronnie Levine is a freelance writer and artist.  She has just finished writing a mystery novel, set in Tarrytown, about an artist who helps a charismatic cop investigate phony masterpieces—and murder.

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