In what may have been the most surprising result Tuesday night, seven-term Mount Kisco Mayor Michael Cindrich was defeated by first-time candidate Gina Picinich.
Picinich, running on the independent 4MK line, won by about 100 votes despite Cindrich appearing on five ballot lines. Her running mate, restaurateur Isi Albanese, also claimed a seat on the Board of Trustees, joining incumbent Democrat Peter Grunthal. Democratic Trustee Anthony Markus finished third.
Picinich, who took a leave of absence from her role as co-executive director of the Mount Kisco Chamber of Commerce during the campaign, is a registered Democrat. Albanese is a registered Republican.
“We had wonderful, wonderful people that we got to work with. We had an incredible team of people from across this community,” Picinich said of their victory. “Before we even decided to run we sat down with people and said ‘Do you want to do this?’ So this was really about bringing a community of people together to make a positive difference.”
There was a raucous atmosphere after the polls closed at Albanese’s Exit 4 Food Hall on East Main Street where the winning party gathered.
Picinich said she and Albanese listened to residents and incorporated some of their ideas into their campaign.
“We’re here to serve them and represent them and that’s what resonated,” Picinich said.
She and Albanese held 14 events in which they listened to and spoke with residents.
“That’s what made the difference,” Picinich said.
Cindrich, who was endorsed by the Democratic and Republican parties, left the nearly empty Little Drunken Chef restaurant with Markus at 11 p.m. to concede to the victors. He said he wasn’t shocked by the results.
“I’ve been here before. I lost before. I lost two elections. It’s something that happens and I can deal with it,” he said. “We work hard. We do what we do and the public has spoken and I’m accepting of that fact that they want change.”
Another factor may have been that residents are upset that their property values have stagnated while values have risen elsewhere, Cindrich said. Although some houses in the village have increased in value, higher valued homes have not kept pace.
One of Picinich’s first priorities as mayor will be to encourage commercial development to help revitalize downtown. The goal is assuring that “everyone in Mount Kisco can thrive,” she said.
“We have to make sure that we’re appealing to everyone in every demographic. And we have to let folks know Mount Kisco has it all,” she said.
Picinich said she would have no difficulty working with the remainder of the board.
“It will be an honor to serve with all of them,” she said.
Albanese said he and Picinich created 4MK because they believe “local politics is about people. It’s about pride and that’s what we have.”
“I think people saw the passion. We connected with the people here in Mount Kisco,” said Albanese, who immigrated as a child to the village from Italy with his parents in 1968.
Albanese said would seek to create a new Mount Kisco where our kids will want to live. Mount Kisco needs to be marketed as a more vibrant community and involving residents is required, he said.
During Cindrich’s 14-year run as mayor Albanese said he did “a great job, but it was time to try new ideas.” He said he admires Grunthal and sitting Democratic trustees Jean Farber and Karen Schleimer. He and Picinich would ask them for their goals.
“We’re going to make a plan in order to go forward in Mount Kisco,” Albanese said.
Reacting to his and Cindrich’s defeat, Markus acknowledged that it’s important for there to be a change.
“I am a member of this village. I am citizen of this village. I’m a business owner in this village and I respect the voters,” Markus said.
Firehouse referendum approved
Residents approved a $10.25 million referendum to allow the village to make improvements and additions to the three firehouses used by the village’s volunteer fire departments.