Dear Peekskill Democrats,
On Wednesday, the final votes were counted and the Democrats retained a 4-3 majority on the Peekskill Common Council. Councilwoman Marybeth McGowan fell just three votes short of re-election. However, Vivian Cyndi McKenzie, the Democrat currently filling Don Bennett's seat by appointment, easily won the special election to retain that seat. I am confident that Vivian and I , along with sitting Councilmembers Darren Rigger and Kathie Talbot, will be able to continue the progress we have made in Peekskill over these many years.
It is important to note that Peekskill has a City Manager form of government and, while the Mayor plays an important symbolic role on the Common Council, he or she has but one vote. All governing decisions must be made by a majority vote of the Common Council. Democrats hold the majority. The management of City Hall personnel, which includes hiring and firing, is solely within the purview of the City Manager. All other decisions concerning budget, contracts, appointments, and development must be approved by a majority of the Common Council. These important matters will have to be debated and discussed in full view of the public, not in private conversations with staff or developers. As Democrats, we believe in open and transparent government. We take this charge seriously and plan to uphold the commitment.
I remember that, in 2001, when I was elected the lone Democrat on the Peekskill Common Council, my Republican Colleagues, rather than working collaboratively with me, sidelined me and excluded me from having a real voice in the decision-making process. It wasn't right then, it won't be right in 2014. I assure you that as the majority party in City Hall we will make sure every council member has a voice and we expect the incoming mayor to ensure the same.
These are uncharted waters in Peekskill. We have never before had a mayor from one party and a majority of council members from the other. In order to make this bipartisan government work, my fellow Democrats have asked me to serve as the Majority Leader on the Common Council and to act as the day-to-day negotiating partner with the new mayor. Additionally, Democrats have selected Councilwoman Vivian Cindy McKenzie to serve as the Deputy Majority Leader. I am hopeful that Mayor-elect Catalina will work with us in a collaborative fashion.
Let me take this opportunity to thank Mayor Mary Foster, Councilman Andy Torres, and Councilwoman Marybeth McGowan for their dedication and service. They have put their blood, sweat and tears into this community and have been tremendously successful in moving this City forward. Six years ago, when Mayor Foster was first elected, she set forth a vision for this city that has, in large part, been realized. Peekskill has become a Hudson Valley destination for music, arts and dining, a place where people from throughout the region want to come to live, work, and play.
We have a lot of work to do before the end of the year and as always, we will all continue to work in the best interest of the City and its residents from now until inauguration day, and beyond.
Thank you very much for your support. I promise to be a Majority Leader you can be proud of.
Drew A. Claxton
Majority Leader, Peekskill Common Council