The Northern Westchester Examiner

Special Election to be Held for Bennett Seat in Peekskill

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The recent resignation of Peekskill Councilman Don Bennett has left a vacancy on the seven-member Common Council that will be filled in a special election on November 5.

As a result, five seats will be up for grabs on Election Day in two separate elections. The winner of the special election for Bennett’s empty chair will serve the last two years of his unexpired four-year term. Bennett, a Democrat who served 10 years as a councilman, resigned September 3 due to complications from multiple sclerosis that caused him to be fatigued and unable to focus for extended periods of time.

The council is discussing whether to appoint someone to serve until the special election or operate with six members. The earliest someone could be appointed would be September 23.

In the meantime, the Peekskill Democratic City Committee held a special convention last week and nominated city native and downtown business owner Vivian Cyndi McKenzie to run in the special election.

McKenzie attended Peekskill city schools and worked in the insurance industry for 27 years for such companies as Hanover Insurance, GMAC and Allstate. In 2010 she purchased the popular Kathleen’s Tea Room on Main Street and last year left the insurance world to run the English-style eatery full-time.

A married mother of three, McKenzie also serves on the board of the Business Improvement District (BID), participates in the P.I.E.S. program at Peekskill High School and is a member of Park Street A.M.E. Zion Church.

“It’s an exciting time in Peekskill right now,” said Democratic Committee Chairperson Marina Ciotti. “Our district leaders enthusiastically came out to nominate a candidate to add to our already exceptional ticket. Vivian’s business experience and hometown roots will add an important voice to the team. We’re thrilled to have her join the campaign and we are focused on our goal of winning in November.”

Larry Gomez, campaign manager for Republican mayoral candidate Frank Catalina and the GOP team, said the Republican Committee has reached out to three or four individuals to possibly run in the special election.

“We’re interviewing some very exciting candidates and we hope to have some announcement in the next week or so,” he said.

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