PoliticsThe Northern Westchester Examiner

Agudelo to Fight Alone for Seat as Running Mates Bow Out

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The number of candidates who will be actively campaigning for elected office in November shrank last week from 12 to 9 as three members of the Progress 4 Peekskill Party announced their intentions to bow out.

Although the Progress 4 Peekskill slate will still appear on the Working Families Party line on the November 2 ballot, only Councilwoman Vanessa Agudelo, who was shunned by Democratic district leaders in her bid for a second term, confirmed Friday she will not be going away quietly.

“Regardless of title or role, my loyalty will always be to the people of Peekskill, not to a political party,” Agudelo stated. “I look forward to continuing to campaign on the issues most pressing to the lives of Peekskill residents at every opportunity I’m given.”

Agudelo, along with mayoral hopeful Conor Greene and council candidates Amy Perlow and Amy Vele, was defeated in a Democratic primary in June by the Democratic-endorsed team of Vivian McKenzie, Dwight Douglas, Ramon Fernandez and Rob Scott, but recently they declined to endorse the victors.

“This summer, P4P approached Deputy Mayor McKenzie and the PDCC endorsed slate with the intention of making a good faith effort to find points of common ground. P4P was ready and willing to publicly endorse McKenzie for mayor, and Fernandez, Douglas, and Scott for council if they demonstrated a willingness to adopt progressive positions on issues like affordable housing and sustainability – policies that impact the everyday lives of residents and are important to the Peekskill voters who’ve supported us,” the slate stated on Facebook.

“While we had hoped to be able to unify with the PDCC around our shared values, our willingness to find common ground and form a plan of action to move forward was not reciprocated. The PDCC-endorsed slate emphasized in an email dated August 27th that ‘the areas of mutual agreement do not include housing policy.’ Sustainability — namely, the appointment of a Sustainability Coordinator — was also excluded as an item up for discussion amongst our teams,” they continued.

“P4P believes all elected leaders must EARN the votes of their constituents and cannot in good faith endorse candidates who will not take seriously the issues most pressing to our community. As a result, we will not be endorsing the PDCC candidates at this time, and will continue to advocate for policies that we raised during the primary campaign.”

McKenzie, who is running for mayor to succeed Andre Rainey, publicly expressed her disappointment with the Progress 4 Peekskill team’s stance.

“My running mates and I are very disappointed that our primary opponents, who were resoundingly rejected by Democratic voters, have followed through on the threat they made when they launched their campaign to run a third-party spoiler campaign,” McKenzie stated. “We’re especially disappointed that the two specific demands made by P4P in exchange for their potential endorsement were: 1) adopt their housing policy which would bar a family with two minimum wage incomes from qualifying for affordable housing, and 2) a guarantee that they would be able to determine — with a backroom deal — the appointment of the vacant seat on the council that would emerge should I be elected mayor.”

“While we identified numerous areas of agreement where we would be happy to work with them, my running mates and I made it clear that we would not reverse the platform we ran on — and that Democratic voters overwhelmingly supported — nor would we participate in a backroom deal for P4P to choose a new council member with no transparency or public knowledge,” McKenzie continued. “For the next two months, our focus will continue to be where it belongs: On beating the Republican slate and continuing the remarkable progress Peekskill has already made in the last four years of Democratic governance – including on the issues such as our economy, securing historic investments in our downtown, increasing affordable housing, and protecting the environment.”

Greene and Perlow both stated on Facebook they were stepping away because they didn’t like their chances of winning in the general election on the Working Families Party line.

“I’m honored to have received the WFP endorsement and to have run with their support in the primary on a platform of housing, equitable growth and other progressive values. However, running a third-party campaign that I’m highly unlikely to win is not the best path forward for myself or our city at this time,” Greene said.

“I am not asking for anyone’s vote, while I could certainly garner many by actively campaigning. I don’t believe a win is ultimately viable and I do not want Republicans to win any seats,” Perlow stated. “On the other hand, McKenzie, Fernandez, Douglas and Scott still must earn the votes of over 500 Democrats who supported the WFP-endorsed progressives in the primary and many more who have not yet made up their minds.”

Running on the Republican line is mayoral candidate Emiliano Perez, a downtown restaurant owner, and council hopefuls Leesther Brown, Ken Gilleo and Bill Moran.

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