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Peekskill Democrats choose Andre Rainey to run for mayor [Updated]

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PEEKSKILL, NY – At a packed Democratic City Committee meeting on Thursday night, local Democrats endorsed Councilman Andre Rainey for Mayor of the City of Peekskill to lead a new generation of local leaders who are less interested in partisanship and more interested in community action. Joining him on the Democratic ticket for the fall will be Vanessa Agudelo, a lifelong Peekskill resident and community organizer involved in supporting city beautification and green projects; Ramon Fernandez, founder and organizer of the Peekskill Hispanic Community Corporation and leader in Assumption Church; and local attorney and Peekskill School Board member Colin Smith.

For county legislator in District 1, Democrats endorsed attorney and environmental activist Nancy Vann who has helped build and lead regional efforts to stop the Spectra-Algonquin Pipeline, which is decimating communities and putting lives at risk throughout Peekskill, Cortlandt, and Yorktown. Democrats also enthusiastically endorsed Legislator Catherine Borgia, the Democratic Majority Leader of the Board of Legislators for re-election.

“This team represents the very best of Peekskill and offers residents who want to be inspired again a new generation of leadership they can be proud of,” said Councilman Rainey. “In my time on the council I am proud of the successes we have had in recruiting new development and business and that will continue when I am mayor. But what I will bring to the mayor’s office that is different is a positive, collaborative approach to government that builds bridges for community engagement, not walls.”

Over the coming weeks, Rainey, Agudelo, Fernandez, and Smith will roll our their Positive Agenda for Peekskill that focuses on community building, making sure Peekskill remains an affordable place to live and enhances the city’s overall quality of life for all residents.

“We on behalf of Westchester Informative wish you a hearty congratulation for being nominated for the election and obtaining the role of candidacy for the Democratic representation,” the group of 9 writers united to encourage the truth in media shared on their Facebook page. “We are looking forward to your work and hope you will take up all the responsibilities you’ll mention during your campaign. We once again congratulate you and wish you all the very best for your tenure and work ahead as well as others to be announced in this year’s race.”

About Andre Rainey Andre K. Rainey (a.k.a. “Noodle”) was elected to the Peekskill Common Council in 2015 as a fresh face with a new perspective on politics. He’s part of a new generation of leadership emerging across the country that is less interested in partisanship and more interested in action. The positive approach he has brought to City Hall since being elected to the common council has re-engaged and inspired residents of Peekskill to once again get involved in their local government. As Mayor, he will take a similar approach to that office, bringing more collaborative leadership to the full Council, making a clean break from the bullying and condescension that has become synonymous with City Hall.

Since joining the Council two years ago, Rainey has helped bring new business and development to Peekskill, including projects currently under construction with more than 200 market rate apartments, a spa, the new mall that has finally replaced the burned out lot on East Main Street, as well as numerous new businesses and restaurants throughout the City. He has also worked to keep taxes down, voting against proposals that wanted to raise taxes on residents over 5%. He has been working diligently to rectify massive water rate hikes that property owners were surprised with this past year, and successfully reconstituted the Human Relations Commission, despite numerous obstacles and delays emanating from City Hall.

Rainey a Peekskill native who graduated from Peekskill High School in 2002, is a millennial entrepreneur and owner and President of NOO Moves Entertainment, founded in 2010. His professional work includes collaboration with local artists and arts organizations, both here in Peekskill and throughout Westchester County, giving him a unique window into the importance of the arts as an economic generator locally.

About Vanessa Agudelo – Vanessa Agudelo is a Peekskill activist with a passion for green initiatives, inclusive collaboration, and empowering our marginalized communities. Raised in Peekskill, she has been active in the community since she was a child, taking part in the Peekskill Swim Team and Field Library Reading Program during her summers.

She is the youngest member of the Peekskill Garden Club, chair of the Environmental Climate Justice Committee for Peekskill’s NAACP chapter, and has been a key organizer around efforts to Solarize Peekskill, as a member of the Conservation Advisory Council. She is a graduate of Penn State University and is the District Representative for the New York State Senate’s first Latina, Marisol Alcántara overseeing constituent issues for a legislative district much like Peekskill. Her experience in managing constituent affairs makes her an ideal advocate for city residents who often feel their outreach to city hall goes unanswered and their concerns go unresolved. Since starting her job, she has organized Immigrant Rights panels and provided affordable housing aid to dozens.

“Every job I have ever had has been focused on helping people and giving them access to their government, and over the course of the last several months it has become more clear than ever, I need to do that right here at home, where I grew up,” said Agudelo. “As a councilwoman, I will ensure no constituent goes unanswered, no community feels left out, and that we develop this City in a way that keeps it affordable and represents its full diversity.”

About Ramon Fernandez – Ramon A. Fernandez is a tireless leader among parents, the religious community, and Hispanic residents. Born in New York City to Dominican parents, he came to Peekskill in 2004 to visit and immediately fell in love with the City, deciding to raise his family here. Fernandez has three children who have attended Peekskill Public Schools. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration at the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Ureña in the Dominican Republic. After working for years for a Quaker State Motor Oil Distributor, ending his time there as a General Manager in 2007, he began working with Rio Taxi allowing him to spend more time with his family and the community. In 2015, with other members of the Hispanic Community, Ramon formed a group called Peekskill Hispanic Community to provide a voice for the city’s Spanish-speaking population and build bridges with the rest of the city. In a short time, this group became the non-profit Peekskill Hispanic Community Corp. of which Ramon is now President. For many years, Ramon was also a leader and member of the Charismatic Group of Assumption Church.

“Peekskill’s Hispanic community is a substantial driver of our local economy and I have worked over the last decade to ensure their voices are heard and concerns are addressed by our local officials,” said Fernandez. “On the council, my goal is to build bridges between the Spanish-speaking community and longer-term residents so that we can enhance the local quality of life for everyone.”

About Colin Smith Colin Smith is a lifelong resident and product of the Peekskill City Schools, having graduated from Peekskill High School in 1991. Professionally, Smith works as an attorney with an office in the downtown. In his first term as a Board Trustee, Mr. Smith worked with the school’s administration to produce fiscally responsible budgets that met the needs and goals of the district, while at the same time, staying below the tax cap so as not to impose an unreasonable burden on Peekskill taxpayers.

“I’ve dedicated my life to this City and believe now more than ever we need a city government that is forward-looking, interested in collaboration, partners with our local school district and respects diversity of opinion in the council chambers,” said Smith. “I’m excited about being part of a new generation of leaders in City Hall and look forward to a spirited campaign.”

AJ Woodson

AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show. AJ is a Father, Brother, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Hip-Hop Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale,,, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.

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