The Northern Westchester Examiner

Hanauer Faces Heated Primary Challenge on Sept. 9

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Ossining Mayor Bill Hanauer
Ossining Mayor Bill Hanauer

By Sue Guzman

Four-term incumbent Bill Hanauer is facing his first primary challenge since he took office in 2007. He is running against first-term Village Trustee Victoria Gearity, who received the endorsement of the Ossining Democratic Party in April.

“I think it was all personal,” said Hanauer on losing the Democratic nod. “It was all character assassination by my opponents’ surrogates. That includes a town supervisor who wanted to be mayor, a former mayor, and a county legislator, who when she was with the town, wanted to become mayor and never forgave me,” he said referring to Supervisor Sue Donnelly, County Legislator Catherine Borgia and former mayor Miguel Hernandez, who all endorsed Gearity.

Ossining Village Trustee Victoria Gearity
Ossining Village Trustee Victoria Gearity

Gearity says while both she and Hanauer are Democrats and agree on many issues, they differ in other ways. “People in Ossining who work most closely with the current mayor and who attend meetings on a regular basis, realize he is not listening. He has his own ideas of how things should be and makes unilateral decisions sometimes without even involving those of us who are trustees on the board,” she said.

She argued that the village isn’t operating as transparently as she would like it to be and expressed concerns that cameras that capture their meetings are turned off before the public comment period.

Gearity vowed to change that if elected mayor. “This way those who are watching the meetings either on TV or online, can see the whole picture and the nature of people’s concerns,” she added.

Incumbent Mayor Bill Hanauer said his opponent, who has been in office for a single term, has not been successful in passing legislation, except for a beekeeping ordinance.

“I have 40-odd years worth of executive managerial experience,” noted Hanauer.

Hanauer said he was the impetus behind the village’s uptick in economic development and cited the Harbor Square luxury apartments and the Avalon affordable housing complex; two development projects that he feels will revitalize the village.

Gearity disagreed, “What needs to happen, in order for downtown Ossining to flourish, is we need to adopt a ‘how can we help you?’ attitude for anyone who wants to open a business downtown.”

Geary believes the village’s focus on residential housing has contributed to overcrowding in the Ossining school system and she would like to see it slow down.

Hanauer says the surge in residential building has served to increase the village’s tax base. “There is a convergence now of low interest rates and high interest in Ossining. The time to act is now,” he said.

With no Republican in the race, the primary on September 9 could very well decide who is mayor of the village of Ossining next year. Gearity is also running on the Independence line, while Hanauer is on the Working Families line.

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