Incumbent Gearity, Trustee Herrera Square Off for Second Time in Ossining

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Two-term incumbent Mayor Victoria Gearity and Trustee Omar Herrera will be squaring off for the second time in two months on November 6 for the mayoral seat in the Village of Ossining, which carries with it an annual salary of $15,000.

Gearity defeated Herrera in September in a Democratic primary but Herrera opted to continue his quest to unseat Gearity by running on the Working Families line.

“I decided to take on the incumbent mayor because my time as both a Village Trustee and as a Village resident has shown me that Ossining is a fractured community that needs to be unified,” Herrera has stated. “We can’t say we are united until we realize and discuss what divides us. Not everyone in the village is being heard or respected, and I’m uncomfortable with that. Just because I belong to the same political party as the incumbent, that doesn’t mean that we have the same goals or vision.”

“Next week, voters in Ossining will decide whether I will serve as Mayor for a third term. I am committed to moving our village forward, toward greater prosperity for everyone. While my opponent agrees with many of my positions, we do have differences on several major issues,” Gearity said. “My vision for Ossining is one of positive change. I want to work with residents and community partners to shape a vision for who this village will be in the next five, 10 and 20 years. Our success as a community comes from our collaboration and willingness to work together for the future of Ossining.”

One clear difference between Gearity and Herrera was their positions on the Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA). Herrera, along with Deputy Mayor John Codman III and Trustee Quantel Bazemore, supported the adoption of EPTA in the village a few months ago, while Gearity and Trustee Rika Levin opposed the measure.

“ETPA is about giving Ossining residents freedom to stay,” Herrera said. “I freely admit that ETPA is not a perfect solution by any means. We need to do more, much more, to ensure that Ossining remains a great and affordable place to live. But I know that ETPA is one important step in the path to creating the stable Ossining that we will all benefit from. ETPA will give some of our current residents the freedom to stay here in the community that they love. That’s never a bad thing.”

“The intentions of this program are good for Ossining—keeping the village affordable and protecting tenants. Unfortunately, in practice, ETPA has too many unintended consequences that will be detrimental for the majority of Ossining residents—homeowners, small businesses and tenants alike,” Gearity said. “ It also undermines the progress we’ve been making on upgrading substandard housing—which is one of our greatest housing challenges.”

With 47% of Ossining residents not having English as their first language, Herrera, who speaks Spanish fluently, believes he will be better able to communicate with constituents than Gearity.

“Ossining is a very special place and the biggest challenge we have is finding a way to know we are really reaching them on a level they can understand,” Herrera said. “This campaign has been all about reaching groups that aren’t always reached out to. We need to reach people beyond political parties.”

“Though my opponent often mentions often mentions language access, it was my campaign that arranged with the League of Women Voters to have a translator and headsets present for Spanish speaking residents at last week’s Candidates Forum,” Gearity said. “Improving communications has been a priority throughout my administration, and the new website we proudly launched this winter includes language access for everyone.”

Gearity said, under her leadership, the village has achieved a 0% tax rate increase for two successive years. “I have a deep understanding of the budget, while my opponent has never even voted on a budget,” she said.

She also believes “there is an energy in Ossining” because “Ossining is moving in a positive direction.”

Herrera, who has called for a moratorium on development in the village, feels “Ossining is at a stepping stone to take a step back of who we are” under Gearity and believes he would be a better leader “who will work with all people and listen to all people.”

Meanwhile, in the race for two seats on the Board of Trustees, Democrats Levin and Manuel Quezada are running unopposed after Working Families candidate David Kezafrika withdrew from the race last week. Codman chose not to run for reelection after not being endorsed by the Democratic Committee.

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