It appears the friendship Frank Catalina and Colin Smith shared prior to the two attorneys going head-to-head for a seat on the Westchester County Board of Legislators this year may have been fractured by campaign mudslinging.
Catalina took to Facebook last week to chastise Smith for reneging on a handshake agreement that the pair would not engage in any negative campaigning. The former two-term Peekskill mayor said Smith, currently in his second year on the Peekskill Common Council, has sent out five “very negative and personally offensive mailers” against him, while he has not returned the favor.
“The past eight+ months have been cordial as a local race should be but I guess he just couldn’t hold out for four more days,” Catalina wrote. “To say I’m disappointed would be an understatement. I saw a well- reasoned endorsement in this week’s Northern Westchester Examiner and I guess that was the straw that broke their will and spirit because the negative hit pieces came flowing this week. Very sad because Colin was a friend, a colleague and someone I respected.”
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m no political virgin and political ads are standard but when they contain nothing but lies and when provably false claims are made including attacks on my personal integrity and even dragging my daughter into this, that is beyond the pale,” Catalina continued. “It’s a sad day when the voters get this garbage. Sad day when a candidate lacks the campaign to play or try to win fairly; sad day when he can only make these attacks from the offices of the Democratic Party in Albany or White Plains and approving their smut while lacking the courage to even show up for a debate and making such allegations directly to my face while blowing off the voters.”
“Well there is a way to win and a way to lose, with honor and dignity. Colin will do neither,” he concluded. “Bad conduct from lousy politicians can be predicted most of the time but not from one I always thought was a good honorable man I respected. Sadly, I found out, he is neither.”
When asked for a response to Catalina’s comments, Smith did not back down.
“If Frank Catalina is ashamed of having his record publicized, he shouldn’t be running for office,” Smith stated. “Catalina raised property taxes repeatedly and then helped sue Peekskill – while he was Mayor! – to force it to hike taxes even further. He defended a proposed 8% property tax hike as just pennies a day. He represented developers with business before his city while he was Mayor. And he ignored New York State Campaign Finance Law for months by failing to file any financial disclosures all year – until we called him out.”
Smith noted Catalina complained about similar lines of attack to the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee in 2015, and the claims were ruled within the bounds of political discourse.
“It was fair then and it’s fair now to attack Frank’s bad record of advocating for big tax hikes,” Smith stated.
Catalina, 62, and Smith, 45, are vying to replace retiring 10-year Legislator John Testa representing District 1 on the Board of Legislators, which includes Cortlandt, Peekskill and Yorktown.
Catalina has secured the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines, while Smith will appear on the Democratic and Working Families lines.