Peekskill — A little more than three weeks after the Democratic City Committee endorsed Councilman Andre Rainey for Mayor of the City of Peekskill, a ticket that also includes Colin Smith, Ramon Fernandez & Vanessa Agudelo for Common Council, The Peekskill Republican Committee announced the ticket they are endorsing.
The Peekskill Republican Committee unanimously endorsed Mayor Frank A. Catalina and Councilman Joe Torres for reelection along with a seasoned businessman, Luis Segarra and attorney Bob Sullivan for Common Council. In addition to the endorsements for Mayor and City Council, former Peekskill Mayor John G. Testa was endorsed to run for a fifth term to the County Legislature in District 1 and Bob Outhouse for District 9 which covers a portion of the south end of the City. Councilman Vinnie “Boo” Vesce decided not to seek reelection to the Common Council due to increased professional responsibilities.
Peekskill Republican Chairman Vincent C. Vesce stated, “Elections in general and local elections, in particular, should never be about the political party you are registered in. Our theme for this election is “Peekskill United” and the reason why is because this group of candidates reflects a true fusion ticket…registered Republicans and Democrats coming together for the betterment of Peekskill. Elections should always be about the person…their integrity, their qualifications, their positions on the key issues that affect our citizens and their view of the future for our wonderful City. I am very proud that our Republican District Leaders looked beyond party labels and endorsed these great people to run with Frank and Joe as they continue their great work moving Peekskill in the right direction. With John Testa and Bob Outhouse representing the City in the County Legislature, Peekskill’s citizens have a great team looking out for our collective best interests locally and regionally”.
Mayor Frank Catalina is seeking his third term as Mayor. Under his leadership, the City ended the unprecedented string of six imbalanced budgets of the previous Administration totaling over 18 million dollars in deficit spending PRC state in their press release.
“Our finances were a wreck and we were very close to having a financial monitor appointed by the State Comptroller. We turned the City in the right direction, not by taxing our residents but by opening the City up to new smart development. People see the difference and feel the positive vibe in the City. We have turned in three straight Operating Budgets with surpluses. Where only one new commercial building and no new residential units were constructed in the six years prior to our Administration, the City is booming with great new projects including The Residences at Fort Hill, The Kearney project on Main Street, the Alma project on Park, Broad and Brown Streets and approximately 10 others. This represents almost a half a billion dollars in private investment and over 500 new residential units for Peekskill. In addition, we are about to complete some long-stalled projects including the final leg of the Hudson River Walkway, construction of the Central Firehouse, the Lincoln Depot Visitors Center and the South, Brown, and Main Street improvements,” said Catalina.
Councilman Joe Torres said he was looking forward to another term to complete the good work that has been started. He said, “There is still much to do. What people should realize is that the total assessed valuation of any City needs to grow by 2-4% every year, just to stay even. Peekskill had seen an erosion of its tax base and total assessed valuation for 7 straight years prior to our Administration which means there was no new growth and everyone pays more just to stay even”. Councilman Torres also led the Council to ensure that no one suffered financial loss because of the installation of the new water meters.
“I insisted that every complaint be addressed and resolved fairly and equitably,” said Torres, who is the Council’s liaison to the Police, Fire and Emergency Services Departments where he is a constant fixture.
Both Catalina and Torres were excited by the Committee’s selection of Luis Segarra and Robert Sullivan as candidates for Common Council. While both are registered Democrats, they share the Republican’s view that the fiscal integrity of the City is among the highest priorities and that it is counterproductive to stop all reasonable growth, as the prior Administration had done and as the current majority continues to do.
Mayor Catalina echoed Chairman Vesce: “In Peekskill, there is no Republican or Democrat garbage or snow; people just want it picked up. There is no Republican or Democrat fire or emergency; people just want qualified professionals responding quickly with adequate equipment. National issues and challenges cannot be solved by local government. While important, our primary focus must be Peekskill First and we all are much better off when negative political discourse is left outside of the City Council Chamber. I am proud that Luis and Robert share this view of ‘local politics’ and are eager to work with us”.
Luis Segarra has been a resident of Peekskill for the past 23 years. He and his wife, Janet, have two children and are the proud grandparents of a 2-year-old granddaughter. Luis’s love for Peekskill has been infectious to the point that his two sisters, brother, mother-in- law, sister-in- law and nephew have all moved here to be a part of this great community. He attended Pace University where he studied Business Management with a focus on Information Systems.
A local businessman of note, Luis is a Principal and CFO of The Crescent Companies which is a consortium of thriving businesses that has been operating out of Peekskill for 15 years, employing a number of Peekskill residents. His companies consult large construction firms in the areas of Diversity and Local Business and Resident Initiatives, LEED Certification and Sustainability, Site Safety OSHA & Building Department Compliance, Painting and Carpentry.
He is a member of the National Hispanic Business Group (NHBG), the African American Chamber of Commerce and the Peekskill Yacht Club. He annually co-chairs the NHBG “Tee Up for Scholarships” golf outing which raises funds to award scholarships to deserving students studying business disciplines. The NHBG was founded in 1985 by a group of prominent Hispanic entrepreneurs with the goal of seeking out and expanding opportunities for its members by promoting dialogue and economic exchange with the Private and Public sectors while supporting social change and community empowerment. Besides his involvement with these organizations, Luis is active in charity work. Through his companies and working with Councilman Torres, the Peekskill Police Department received the support they needed to secure a drone which the Peekskill PD has found to be helpful in their efforts to keep Peekskill safe and secure.
“It would be a great honor to provide public service to the City of Peekskill, its businesses and its residents. I feel my experience in business and the working relationships that I have developed over the years will help me to bring a fresh and invigorated approach to governing”, Segarra said. “Those who live here are all in this together and the only way we can truly succeed is if we work as one for Peekskill, not for any one group or any one political party. I thank the Committee for their faith and support in endorsing me. As part of this bi-partisan team, I promise to work as hard as I can with Mayor Catalina and Joe Torres to keep Peekskill on the right track”.
Bob Sullivan and his wife Cathy were among the original homeowners in the Woods III when those condominiums first opened off of Crompond Road in 1988. Over the years Bob became involved with his neighbors and has become the President of the Woods III Home Owners Association, responsible to the residents of the 344 homes in the complex for the operation and maintenance of the property as well as management of the Association’s budget and financial affairs.
Originally from Buffalo, NY, Bob attended Canisius College and while there, enlisted in the Navy’s Officer Candidate Program. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as an officer in the US Navy and attained the rank of Lieutenant (Junior Grade). Following his discharge from the Navy, he attended St. John’s University Law School and earned a J.D. in 1981.
Bob has been a practicing attorney for 36 years beginning his legal career as an Assistant DA in the office of the Brooklyn District Attorney. He eventually left the DA’s Office, went into private practice and in 2004 formed his own law firm in Manhattan where he is currently the senior partner.
In addition to his involvement with his homeowner’s association, in the past couple of years, Bob has become very active in issues of importance to all residents of the City. Due to his active involvement on city issues and without any knowledge of his political affiliation, Catalina asked him to consider running for public office.
”When I saw the partisan politics played by the majority during the passage of the City’s 2016 budget, I decided to get off the couch and act because I knew we could do better” he said.
After witnessing the illegal conduct of the Democrat majority of the Common Council in their vote on the 2016 City budget, Bob took it upon himself to bring it to the attention of the NYS Supreme Court where a Democratic Supreme Court Justice found the Democrats’ conduct to be a blatantly illegal.
Recently, during the city’s water meter conversions, he argued that all residents are paying the cost of the meter replacement Bond and therefore residents of condominiums and co-ops should be treated the same as any other homeowner and not be forced to bear the cost of installing the new meters. As a result, they no longer have to.
Bob said in conclusion, “I have disregarded party labels and have decided to cross party lines and run with a team of candidates who share the same vision of how to make Peekskill a great place to live, a great place to work and a great place to invest in. A transparent government that does things in a lawful manner while making wise decisions is what our citizens deserve and what I and my running mates believe in.”
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, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.