Ossining Village Trustee Omar Herrera kicked off his grassroots, people-led campaign for mayor last week in front of his apartment on Main Street.
Herrera, 28, is looking to force a Democratic primary in September against two-term incumbent Victoria Gearity, who recently was nominated for reelection by the Ossining Democratic Committee.
“This is about all of us, not just some,” Herrera said to a diverse crowd of about 50 supporters who held up signs and chanted his name. “It is time for Ossining to have a true conversation about the current state of Ossining. We need leaders who not only listen to people who agree with them, but the people who don’t agree with them.”
Among those in attendance who endorsed Herrera were fellow trustees John Codman and Quantel Bazemore.
“He’s honorable, trustworthy, a man of his words,” said Codman, a seven-year trustee whose term expires this year and did not receive the backing of Democratic district leaders. “He understands the struggles of regular citizens and those just getting by.”
“This is a guy who has been involved in Ossining his whole life. He has been a business owner. He has been an advocate. This is someone who actually gets it,” said Bazemore. “It is not enough to just listen to the issues. We’re looking for leaders who actually respond.”
Herrera, who works as a legislative aide for County Legislator Catherine Borgia (D/Ossining) and runs his own public relations firm, was first elected as a village trustee in November 2014, holding the distinction as the youngest resident ever elected to public office in Ossining.
In September 2015, he was appointed as an Empire State Fellow in the Executive Chamber in Albany, where he served from 2015 to 2017. He was reelected as a village trustee last November.
Ossining firefighter Damian Gillespie attended Ossining High School with Herrera and said he knew he was headed for big things after he was elected class president.
“We always knew he was going to run for mayor one day,” Gillespie said. “It’s just a pleasure to know the guy. I can’t wait to see the future that he brings.”
Gearity was a trustee for one term prior to defeating William Hanauer for mayor in 2014. She was reelected to a second two-year term running unopposed in 2016.
Gearity did not address Herrera specifically when quired in an email about his candidacy and their relationship on the Village Board.
“Working collaboratively with other public entities to serve the best interests of all Ossining residents, has been an important goal of my tenure as Mayor,” said Gearity, who was nominated for reelection at the Democratic caucus by Town Supervisor Dana Levenberg. “The town and village share resources in almost every department, and we strive to expand our ability to save taxpayer dollars while providing excellent services. As the only member of the Village Board who has children in the Ossining School District, I have a firsthand understanding of the demands on our classrooms, which is essential for guiding smart economic development for our village.”
“During an election, we wear two hats–first as public servant, and second as candidate. Even in the toughest of campaigns, I find that most local officials seek to behave in a manner that honors the community we serve,” she continued. “As Mayor, I chair public meetings with respect for my colleagues in village government and members of the community. I will continue to work constructively to move forward policies that will improve safe and affordable housing, and implement economic development to expand our commercial tax base, alleviating the burden on residential property owners.”
Democratic Party leaders also endorsed Trustee Rika Levin and former Trustee Manuel Quezada for the November election. Herrera has received the endorsement of the Working Families Party.