The Northern Westchester Examiner

Peekskill Mayor Launches Reelection Bid with Diverse Ticket

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Frank Catalina and Team
Frank Catalina and Team

Peekskill Mayor Frank Catalina is heading a Republican/Conservative ticket for four available seats on the Common Council in November as the lone registered Republican as he seeks to break up the current Democratic majority.

Joined by about 60 supporters along Restaurant Row on Division Street Saturday, Catalina and his three running mates, Tina Fischer, Brendon Fitzgerald and Herbert Reyes, along with Westchester County Legislator John Testa, were introduced by Peekskill Republican Committee Chairman Vincent Vesce.

“We feel very fortunate to offer the citizens of Peekskill such a diverse and exciting group of citizens,” said Vesce, a former city mayor.

“This is probably one of the best slates we’ve ever had in the City of Peekskill,” touted Testa, also a former city mayor. “He (Catalina) needs help. He needs this team.”

Catalina, who ousted Democrat Mary Foster in 2013, conceded he thought about not seeking a second two-year term but is confident “we can do so much more with a cohesive non-political Council.”

“We don’t run Peekskill as Republicans or Democrats. We run Peekskill as friends and neighbors to do the right thing,” Catalina declared to a rousing ovation. “We crossed party lines to finally find the right people for Peekskill. We’ve had opposition every step of the way. It hasn’t been easy. I can’t do it alone.”

“Although my running mates are not registered Republicans, they believe as we do that incessant politics should not be injected into every policy discussion as the incumbents do on an almost daily basis,” Catalina said. “These candidates share my vision for Peekskill’s bright future and my plan to get there. They have the integrity to support what’s good for Peekskill regardless of the party label of the person who proposes those ideas. They know that partisanship has no place when issues critical to Peekskill are discussed and vital policy decisions are made.”

Fischer, who is not registered in any political party, worked in Peekskill’s Finance Department for 12 years before leaving in 2012. A lifelong city resident, she lives in the Riverbend condominium complex on South Street.

Frank Catalina and Team
Frank Catalina and Team

“I am Peekskill. Peekskill is me,” said Fischer, who lost her husband in a tragic accident three years ago. “I want to help Peekskill. I want to be in the capacity I know best, which is finances. The 12 years I served in the Finance Department provided me with an understanding of what it takes to keep a city financially strong and vibrant so that vital services can be provided in a cost efficient and effective manner. I have seen Mayor Catalina and his administration stop Peekskill’s financial decline but am troubled by the continued opposition he faces by the political bickering of the Foster holdovers.”

Fitzgerald, a registered Democrat, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. A member of the Air National Guard, he works for Con Edison planning gas capital construction projects.

“I feel it is my duty to serve my fellow citizens of Peekskill,” said Fitzgerald, whose grandfather once ran for mayor. “My father and uncles, all Democrats, have told me no one should serve Peekskill as a Republican or Democrat because we serve as neighbors, to do the right thing for our city, regardless of politics. I have seen Mayor Catalina govern under that principle and that is how I pledge to serve.”

Reyes, a member of the Independence Party, has lived in Peekskill since 2005. He has a background in finance, operational overview and project management and currently is operations manager for a New York City transportation company.

“I am anxious to be part of a team that is more interested in working together than what political party I am registered with. I believe that Peekskill’s future is bright and Mayor Catalina’s vision is right on the mark as I support the positive steps that he has taken since he took office,” said Reyes, whose wife is assistant principal at Peekskill High School. “This is a ticket that wants to move forward to progress.”

Despite some obstacles, Catalina said he was proud of the small and big achievements of his administration, such as reducing the size and cost of the planned new firehouse, abolishing fees at the Kiley Center, settling several costly court cases against the city and spearheading seven major construction projects in the works totaling $175 million.

Catallina Team supporters
Catallina Team supporters

“We have turned the corner and finally have the city headed in the right direction,” Catalina said. “For voters seeking meaningful diversity, I believe our exciting slate o multi-party candidates support the pro-growth policies that our city needs, our citizens deserve and that I have been working to achieve. I will not leave this city until the job is done.”

Meanwhile, late last week the Westchester County Independence Party announced it had endorsed Peekskill’s Democratic slate of candidates, mayoral hopeful Ken Martin, incumbent councilwomen Vivian McKenzie and Kathy Talbot and newcomer Andre Rainey.

“This endorsement was easy for the Westchester Independence Party because of the strengths and successes of the incumbent councilwomen and also because of the fresh perspective and collaborative approach that Ken Martin and Andre Rainey will bring to Peekskill City Hall,” said Independence Party Chairman Dr. Giulio Cavallo. “Additionally, we were highly impressed with the fact that these four individuals represented a cross section of Peekskill residents. We have full confidence that when elected, they will be able to ensure Peekskill’s progress and do so in a way that is collaborative and inclusive.”

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