In what he calls an unprecedented show of support, Mayor Frank Catalina announced Friday that six of the seven living former mayors of Peekskill have come together to endorse his entire Peekskill United slate in tomorrow’s election. Mayors George E. Pataki, Richard E. Jackson, Frances S. Gibbs, Vincent Vesce, John J. Kelly III and John Testa urged residents to re-elect Catalina and Councilman Joe Torres and to elect Luis Segarra and Robert Sullivan to the Common Council.
“I am proud to announce that six of the seven living former mayors of the City of Peekskill have stepped out of the background to endorse this fantastic slate of candidates,” Catalina said in a press release. “For me, it was an acknowledgment of promises made and promises kept, a recognition of those who have served and know how difficult it is to get a city back on solid financial footing and to stimulate smart development. These people represent the true leadership of our city dating back over a more than 50-year period and I am humbled by their endorsement and support of a truly bipartisan slate of candidates.”
Former mayor and governor of New York, Pataki said: “I knew the dire financial circumstance Peekskill was in when Frank Catalina ran in 2013 and knew he had a great plan to reverse the city, but I have been surprised by the dramatic turnaround in so short a period of time—just four short years. We were lucky he came in when he did. Now, with this fantastic slate of highly qualified candidates, Peekskill is poised to keep moving Peekskill forward.”
Former Mayor Vincent Vesce echoed Pataki’s comments: “Peekskill has surely changed since I served as mayor when our local elected officials ran the city without regard to political party affiliation. Frank and Joe have shown their ability to work with people of good will regardless of party affiliation having twice now run with Independents, Democrats and non-party affiliated candidates. We have been proud to support this bipartisan leadership and Luis Segarra and Robert Sullivan bring a breath of professionalism to the Council that is sorely missed.”
Former mayor and current county legislator, John Testa, pointed to superbly qualified Council candidates Joe Torres, Luis Segarra and Robert Sullivan. “I know how hard it can be to have great ideas, exceptional development projects and answers to the need for better youth programs, a cleaner downtown and beautiful riverfront stalled because of petty politics,” Testa said. “I admire what Frank has been able to accomplish in stimulating housing, business development and implementing sound budget practices despite the hostile work environment created by petty politics. He has been able to succeed because of his knowledge of city government and his temperament.”
Catalina praised the accomplishments of the former mayors.
“I have worked with each of these mayors and each has made contributions that far surpassed whatever success we have had. Mayor Pataki ushered in development on a scale others can only emulate. Mayor Jackson led the redevelopment of the abandoned Charles Point section of Peekskill. Mayor Gibbs served during a time Peekskill was searching for an identity and found it with transforming Peekskill into a haven for artists. She showed us that arts grow business and solidified their presence by creating the Artists District. She also left a transformed Peekskill by bringing in Westchester Community College and established the B.I.D. Mayor Vesce’s term as mayor was short due to family obligations, but his impact on Peekskill was immense through his service for over 10 years as chairman of the Peekskill IDA. Lastly, I attended K-12 with Mayor John J. Kelly III, a lifelong friend. John worked tirelessly to complete the Chapel Hill development and brought in GDC to construct Riverbend. Mayor John Testa, also a former classmate and lifelong friend, is almost solely responsible for the Lincoln Museum being established here in Peekskill. If I can be half the mayor these great leaders have been, then I would be considered a successful mayor.”
This endorsement is historic as it is the first time six former mayors of Peekskill have ever endorsed a candidate for mayor and an entire slate for Common Council. “My entire team of Joe Torres, Luis Segara and Robert Sullivan are humbled and proud of this recognition and unprecedented endorsement—the first time such an endorsement has ever been made. While we have received about 25 to 30 endorsements, this is special because of its historical significance and we thank each of them for their confidence and faith in our candidates.”
Mary Foster, a Democrat who was mayor prior to Catalina, a Republican, is supporting the Democrat’s One Peekskill ticket.