Peekskill mayoral candidate Vincent Vesce accused incumbent Mayor Andre Rainey of taking credit for other people’s work during his recent State of the City address, calling the speech “nakedly deceitful.”
Vesce, a former councilman looking to unseat the first-term Rainey, also claimed the mayor offered no vision for the future of Peekskill, charging the city has stalled under Rainey’s leadership.
“There’s no way around it,” Vesce said, “Peekskill is stalling under its current administration, and our families cannot allow that to continue. I was hopeful that Mr. Rainey would offer ideas of his own during the State of the City Address, but instead I and others watched in amazement as this orchestrated speech took credit for successes achieved by past administrations and councils on which I served. In stark contrast to what’s going on in City Hall now, the bi-partisan Peekskill Together team will be laying out a clear vision for progress in Peekskill in the weeks ahead, along with our professional and community credentials that will allow us to actually accomplish things. This administration does a lot of talking, but addressing Peekskill’s challenges and harnessing its enormous economic potential takes action not acting and over- the-top metaphors. We need to do better. Peekskill deserves better.”
Vesce and his Common Council hopeful running mates Lauren Brady, Marlon Mahon and Luis Segarra specifically took issue with Rainey taking credit for more than a half a dozen development projects that had been initiated and approved during Vesce’s tenure on the council; an improved Moody’s credit rating that was based on fiscal years 2014 thru 2017 which were budgets passed by prior administrations; the completion of the Lincoln Depot Visitors Center to promote tourism, which was approved prior to Rainey becoming mayor; the completion of the southernmost section of the Peekskill Waterfront Trail system which is more than two years behind schedule; infrastructure improvements which are old projects that have been in the Capitol Plan for years; and sustainability programs such as the LED lighting initiative which was approved and completed more than three years ago.
Rainey fired back, remarking, “The only thing Mr. Vesce has to offer this city is this Trump-style, divisive politics, he learned from his mentor Frank Catalina. And residents decided two years ago, we’ve had enough of that.”
“Peekskill is on the march. It’s the single hottest community in Westchester and the Hudson Valley right now, and that’s a major problem for Vinnie Vesce,” Rainey said. “The last time a Vesce was in charge of Peekskill, crime was soaring, political patronage was rampant, the downtown was full of empty storefronts, homeowners were being taxed into oblivion, and people simply avoided coming to Peekskill because they were afraid of our community. Rest assured, we are not turning back. We will continue encouraging good, exciting development that fits the character of this community and is welcoming to all. We will continue to promote a green agenda. We will continue to hold the line on taxes and further bolster the city’s financial position. And I will continue to lead this City in a positive, forward-looking manner, so we can be an example for how you can revitalize a city in a way that brings the City together.”
“I wish nothing but the best to Mr. Vesce and hope he will become a cheerleader for Peekskill and not a slanderer,” Rainey added.
Vesce also faulted Rainey for failing to mention in his speech “the string of administration failures” during the last 18 months, citing the shuttering and uncertain future of the Paramount Theater, the “secretive” plan to place a homeless shelter in a residential Peekskill neighborhood, the loss of confidence among city employees leading to several senior staff resignations and constant overreach and “mismanagement” of day-to-day city operations.