PoliticsThe Northern Westchester Examiner

Verplanck Resident to Challenge Becker for Cortlandt Supervisor

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A lifelong Verplanck resident is hoping a third time on the ballot will be a charm this November when he runs for the highest elected position in the Town of Cortlandt.

Warren Smith, 60, who came up short in two separate bids for a seat on Town Board, has announced he will challenge incumbent Supervisor Dr. Richard Becker.

“After careful consideration, with the support of my family and with the encouragement from a number of town residents, I have decided to offer my name for election to Supervisor of the Town of Cortlandt,” Smith said. “For many years our town supervisors and board members have governed based on a single political philosophy and point of view. Town residents are telling me that they would like to get some fresh thinking and a diverse philosophy on our town board. As supervisor I feel that I can lead our town with a vision that ignores party politics and offers a new inclusive, common-sense approach to solving the many problems that Cortlandt faces today and will face in the future.”

Smith, who will be running on the Republican and Conservative lines, is a 1981 graduate of Hendrick Hudson High School. President of the Verplanck Residents Association and a longtime Boy Scouts leader, he is Director of Operations for a commercial printer in New York City.

He was involved in the effort to stop the Port Cortlandt industrial project and has been a regular attendee at town meetings in recent years. He lost to Councilman Robert Mayes last November in a race to serve the final year of Becker’s unexpired council term.

“Cortlandt is at a critical juncture. Our town faces issues that require creative solutions which can only come from diverse ideas and critical thinking,” Smith said. “I believe the new and unique vision and dedication I would bring to the office meet the moment.”

Becker, 69, a cardiologist, succeeded Linda Puglisi in 2022 after a 14-year stint as a councilman.

“I am very proud of the accomplishments of our first year,” Becker said. “We have completed a brand new ice skating rink and are far along with our plans for an amphitheater at the waterfront in Verplanck. And, we have kept taxes, on average, approximately 1% — continuing the legacy of our town government. We have multiple exciting plans to grow our community, and I am excited for our future.”

Becker’s involvement in the Cortlandt community began when he established the Dickerson Mountain Preservation Association, a group that resisted development on wetlands adjacent to the tallest mountain in Westchester. Having attended Planning Board meetings for almost 20 years, his group succeeded in preserving 120 acres. Concurrently, he served on the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals for three years. In 2007, he was elected to his first four-year term on the Town Board. He was reelected in 2011, 2015, and 2019.

“It certainly has been an honor and privilege to represent and lead the town, and I look forward to continuing to work in this role,” Becker said. “Along with being a physician and parent, it has been one of the most rewarding and enjoyable roles I’ve had in this life.”

Running on the Democratic slate with Becker will be Mayes, who will be seeking his first full four-year term, and newcomer Joyce White. Councilman Frank Farrell, who has served on the board for 28 years, will not be vying for an eighth term. Town Justice Maritza Norton, the first Hispanic woman to be elected in Cortlandt’s history, is seeking reelection to a second term.

Smith’s running mates for Town Board have still not been finalized. Laurie Abbate Ryan, who served 12 years on the Hendrick Hudson Board of Education and lost to Becker in 2021 after Puglisi retired, is running for the Ninth District seat on the Westchester County Board of Legislators where incumbent Democrat Catherine Borgia is term-limited.

Smith said he will be releasing a comprehensive platform in the near future that will focus on improving public safety, effective and transparent local government, promoting wise economic development, and creating opportunities for greater public participation and engagement.

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