The Peekskill Democratic Party officially unveiled its 2019 slate last week, led by Mayor Andre Rainey, who will be seeking a second two-year term.
“Every day residents of Peekskill approach me and tell me they are happy with the direction of the city, the new collaboration and civil approach in City Hall. All around, they see a more forward-looking vision for all of our residents,” Rainey said.
Running with Rainey for three available seats on the Common Council is a trio of incumbents: Deputy Mayor Kathleen Talbot, and Councilwomen Vivian McKenzie and Patricia Riley.
The Democrats, who currently occupy all seven seats on the council, launched their campaign at the same time Moody’s announced an upgrade in Peekskill’s credit rating to Aa3 based on “a healthy and improved financial position.”
Moody’s stated that the City of Peekskill “benefits from a healthy and improved financial position driven by solid management and conservative budgeting,” adding, “Peekskill’s $1.8 billion tax base will continue to expand given a stabilizing regional housing market and significant redevelopment projects underway.”
Rainey, who is being challenged by former Councilman Vincent “Boo” Vesce, said Peekskill is benefiting from policies in his administration.
“The Moody’s announcement further demonstrates the progress that we’ve made, highlighting not only that we have a friendlier, more collaborative city hall, but a fiscally prudent one as well,” Rainey said. “What residents don’t want is to take a step back to the times when the city was stagnant, and a small group of conservative Republicans ran the city like a friends and family club. As I see it, our City Hall team is ‘Progress Forward.’”
Talbot, who owned and operated a corporate communications business for many years and is a licensed clinical social worker, pointed to the significant redevelopment projects underway in Peekskill. Projects mentioned by the Democrats include Bre Pettis’ Bantham Tools project at the waterfront, The Lofts on Main Street, the Fort Hill development and the upcoming completion of its spa, and restaurant/catering facility. In addition, another residential development, the Balter Project, is working its way through planning, and businesses, like Thompson’s Cider Mill, are looking to relocate in Peekskill.
“I couldn’t be more optimistic about the current state of Peekskill and its future,” said Talbot. “It’s all coming together: from Main Street developments to exciting new businesses and growing industry bringing high tech jobs and growing our tax base. And there’s more to come.”
McKenzie, who owns Kathleen’s Tea Room in downtown Peekskill, was employed for 25 years an insurance industry territory sales manager responsible for a $20+ million territory that included Long Island, the five boroughs, New Jersey, and New York to Albany. She has worked aggressively to revamp city processes so that economic development projects can make their way through City Hall more efficiently.
“All one has to do is look at the shovels in the ground, the new residential development occurring, and the buzz around new entrepreneurs setting up shop in Peekskill to know we are on the right path,” said McKenzie. “I have made it a priority to work with city staff to streamline the planning process and make it easier for investors and business leaders to cut through the red tape and set up shop in Peekskill.”
Riley, who was chosen by the council to fill the seat left vacant when Rainey ousted Mayor Frank Catalina and then won an uncontested election to complete the rest of his term, worked as an educator in the public schools for 32 years and was a union representative for the Lakeland Federation of Teachers for 29 of those years, making sure that educators were well-represented and treated fairly. She has significant experience in contract negotiations and served on the Lakeland Executive council. She said her priority is fiscal responsibility for taxpayers.
“As a retiree on a fixed income, I understand the importance of keeping our taxes low and being fiscally responsible to the citizens of Peekskill. The work this council has done to both expand services and increase the city’s fiscal health demonstrates that you can have your cake and eat it too,” Riley said.
Running on the GOP ticket with Vesce for council is Lauren Brady, a registered Republican who works as Events Manager at the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce and is co-founder of the non-profit “This is Me Foundation,” and registered Democrats Luis Segarra, co-owner and CFO of The Crescent Companies who ran unsuccessfully in 2017, and Marlon Mahon, an IT and corporate management consultant.