Members of the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee met Tuesday to hear two sets of complaints related to the Peekskill mayoral race: those filed by incumbent Mary Foster against challenger Frank Catalina and those filed by Catalina against Foster.
The committee sided with Catalina in one of his four complaints. It sided with Foster in five of her seven complaints.
The Peekskill Republican City Committee is endorsing Catalina while the Democrats are supporting Foster. The term for mayor is two years. Foster was first elected in 2007. Catalina is an attorney whose office is located in Peekskill.
Here are the findings by the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee as provided in a statement:
[Catalina vs. Foster]
COMPLAINT: Mr. Catalina complained that Ms. Foster, through her campaign manager, erroneously stated on numerous occasions and in campaign materials on the subject of the relocation of White Plains Linen, that: “On Mayor Foster’s watch the problem was finally resolved…The Mayor helped negotiate its move into an appropriate industrial zone on John Walsh Boulevard.”
FINDING: Unfair. The company had moved to its new location on John Walsh Boulevard in 1998, 10 years before Ms. Foster became mayor.
COMPLAINT: Mr. Catalina complained that Ms. Foster has stated, erroneously and without documentation, that the City has 26 economic development projects in the works, representing 60 million in public and private investment.
FINDING: Fair. Ms. Foster’s representatives presented a list of projects that supported her claim and no evidence was offered to refute it.
COMPLAINT: Mr. Catalina complained that Ms. Foster, on numerous occasions, has stated, erroneously and without documentation that 36 new businesses have opened in Peekskill during her three terms as Mayor.
FINDING: Fair. A list of new businesses was provided by Ms. Foster’s representatives and no evidence was offered to refute the claim.
COMPLAINT: Mr. Catalina complained that Ms. Foster claims, erroneously and without documentation, that 12 businesses have expanded during her three terms as Mayor.
FINDING: Fair. The list provided by Ms. Foster’s representatives supported the claim, and no evidence was offered to refute it.
[Foster vs. Catalina]
COMPLAINT: Ms. Foster complained that an article posted by the Peekskill GOP falsely stated: “The incumbents in City Hall didn’t foresee that their shortsighted financial decisions, like demanding $41,000 from the Peekskill Celebration and a similar amount from the Italian Feast organizers, would lead to the discontinuance of these longstanding and beloved community events.”
FINDING: Fair. The Committee found that the statement fell within the realm of normal political discourse.
COMPLAINT: Ms. Foster complained that the article further stated falsely that “[t]hese foolish decisions are further compounded by hiring a public relations firm and ‘spokesperson’ to deliberately misrepresent these failed strong armed tactics.”
FINDING: Unfair. No evidence was presented that the public relations firm or spokesperson were asked to make any misrepresentations.
COMPLAINT: Ms. Foster complained that in a “Letter to the Editor on Methadone Clinic Case,” Mr. Catalina falsely indicated that Mayor Foster entered into a clandestine agreement with Hudson Valley Hospital and Methadone Clinic operators to bring a Methadone clinic to Peekskill and that “when winks and nods are given to the hospital and clinic operators in the shadows of City Hall, covered by the darkness of night or the Mayor’s famous weekends at City Hall; or cloaked under cover of ‘executive session’ we the people are disserved and, as always, bear the brunt of these ‘bad’ deals.”
FINDING: Unfair. Mr. Catalina offered no evidence to support his accusations.
COMPLAINT: Ms. Foster complained that on Mr. Catalina’s website, Vincent “Boo” Vesce’s bio states that he is a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, when he is no longer a member.
FINDING: Unfair. Mr. Catalina admitted that Mr. Vesce was not currently on the Zoning Board of Appeals.
COMPLAINT: Ms. Foster complained that Mr. Catalina falsely claimed that she and the Common Council are “hard pressed to explain: the millions of dollars spent on studies and consultants.”
FINDING: No Finding. Based on the information provided by each side, the Committee was not able to determine whether the claim was accurate.
COMPLAINT: Ms. Foster complained that Mr. Catalina also wrote that “Peekskill has not added any new business employer.”
FINDING: Unfair. Evidence presented by Ms. Foster’s representatives showed that a number of new employers had come to Peekskill during her tenure as mayor.
COMPLAINT: Ms. Foster complained that Mr. Catalina wrote that “20% of Peekskill’s workforce has been terminated” when, in fact, it has not.
FINDING: Unfair. The 20%, according to Mr. Catalina, included several vacant positions that were not filled. The actual percentage of employees whose jobs were eliminated appears to be closer to 14%.