Former Peekskill Mayor Frank Catalina was chosen by the Westchester Republican County Committee Saturday to run for the District 1 seat on the Board of Legislators being vacated by John Testa.
Catalina, 61, who served four years as mayor before being ousted by Andre Rainey in 2017, defeated Yorktown Councilman Tom Diana for the GOP nomination and will square off against Peekskill Councilman Colin Smith, the Democratic candidate, in November.
“John Testa did a very respectable job representing the district and I want to carry on that tradition,” Catalina said. “County issues really affect a lot of people, sometimes more so than local issues.”
Catalina, an attorney, has been very vocal at times on Facebook regarding the way the all-Democratic Peekskill Common Council has been functioning for the last 14 months since he left office, but he said he never gave serious thought to launching another campaign for mayor.
“My ego wanted to, but not my heart or mind,” he said, noting when he got remarried “a big hole that was in my life I filled.”
As for county issues, Catalina stressed he was “100 percent against” the proposed relocation of the Jan Peek House Shelter, the only year-round, 24-hour shelter for homeless adults in northern Westchester, from North Water Street to 851 Washington Street.
“I can do everything I can to oppose the county granting funds to CHHOP (Caring for the Hungry and Homeless of Peekskill, Inc.,” Catalina said of the organization that runs the shelter.
However, Catalina acknowledged with Republicans currently only holding three of 17 seats on the Board of Legislators it would be an uphill battle for him to convince his colleagues to think his way, but he noted he was successful as a minority mayor in making positive changes.
In sizing up his opponent, Catalina said Smith was “a nice guy,” but “doesn’t contribute at all” on the council, other than voting in lockstep with his fellow Democrats. He also mentioned Smith was not a homeowner, thus he doesn’t pay property taxes.
When he announced his candidacy, Smith, who is currently serving the second year of a four-year term, said his style of leadership and experience was “right for our community.”
“I’m running for county legislator to make sure that our local leaders have a partner in county government who can get things done for Northern Westchester,” Smith said. “It’s a new day in Westchester, and that new day calls for new leadership for the working families of Peekskill, Cortlandt and Yorktown. This is a critical moment for our community. We need leaders who are focused on the future and focused on results. We need leaders who will bridge the gap that has sometimes existed between this corner of the county and elected officials in White Plains.”