Q & A with Darren Rigger, Democratic Candidate for Common Council

Democratic Candidate for Common Council Darren Rigger answers a few questions from Patch.

On Nov. 8 Peekskill voters will have a lot of choices to make. There are three open Common Council seats and the mayor is also up for reelection.

Patch sent all candidates the following five questions and asked for brief responses. We will run a series featuring the responses over the next two weeks. Here is the third of our series, featuring Darren Rigger's unedited answers.

Rigger was announced by the Peekskill Democratic City Committee on July 20 after two other dem candidates Read his biography .

Democratic candidates Kathleen Talbot, Darren Rigger and Don Bennett (incumbent) are running for the Council seats. Mayor Mary Foster is running for re-election into what would be her third 2-year term.

Republican candidates Joe Brady, Steve Woods and Barbara Kerasiotes are running for the Council seats and Tony Washington is running for mayor.

Read more about the Republican candidates and the Democratic candidates .

1.   Why are you running for political office?
I love Peekskill and I think it is a terrific small city. When I walk around downtown, I think it looks better and feels safer than 5 years ago. I notice the new shops, new restaurants, new lights and new community activities.  I want to bring energy and enthusiasm to the effort. I want to work hard on behalf of my family, my friends, my neighbors and all the citizens of Peekskill.

2. What do you feel makes you qualified to run for your position based on your professional and personal life?
I have a degree in Diplomacy from Georgetown University and I have worked in government and politics for 20 years.  I now own my own small business and my first home in Peekskill.  I commute to the city for work each day and try to volunteer in the community as much as possible.  I am especially active in the American Cancer Society where I serve as a Legislative Ambassador and Relay for Life Team Captain.

3. What are the two or three of the most important issues facing Peekskill that you plan to tackle first if elected?
I would like to see more options and activities for young families.  I think young families represent the future of our community and they need to be supported as much as possible.  I will encourage private investment into family friendly, affordable restaurants as well as activity centers for children, such as a children’s museum, children’s art center or perhaps an interactive computer lab.
I would also like to see the revitalization of the Monument Park area.  Now that White Plains Linen is moving to an industrial area and out of this residential area, we have an opportunity to see a new more appropriate mix of commercial entities.  Additionally, the current physical improvements of the park’s facilities now have to be coupled with better lighting and an increased police presence.

4. How are your plans and solutions different from other candidates?

I believe the current common council and administration are making it happen for Peekskill.  I share their vision of helping Peekskill become an exciting destination city in the Hudson Valley.  Some candidates look back into the past and ruminate, while not appreciating the changes happening all around them.  I choose Peekskill to be my home because I enjoy the diversity, art and culture.

5. How do you measure the success of elected officials in Peekskill?
The City looks and feels better than it did 5 years ago.  The Mayor and Common Council helped, while keeping taxes flat - during the worst economic condition since the great depression.  They did more with less and left behind a City, of which we should all be proud.

jo October 12, 2011 at 07:38 PM
sorry Darrin.. the past tax and spend and do it again polices of the dems has us all suffering. Peekskill becoming un affordable... if you are a Dem you are part of the problem not the problem solver.. I go with birds of a feather.. I will be voting Republican.. change is in the air.. real change..
jo October 12, 2011 at 07:41 PM
lets not forget Mary's adding a tax to a previous year tax bill the first year she hit office.. she resurrected a done deal budget and added a tax.. shameful and in my mind cheating....
Dick Johnson October 12, 2011 at 07:45 PM
Jo, do yourself the favor and watch last nights council meeting. Fast forward to the good part where Tony Washington stands up nervous, sweating, stammering...unsure of himself. There isn't a chance that I would vote for him. The Republicans would've had a FAR better chance with Washington as a councilman and Brady as the Mayor. I'm fine with paying taxes in a town that i SEE progress in. Downtown didn't exist prior to 4 years ago.
Frank Cimino October 13, 2011 at 12:44 PM
Darren: what do you think the single most important change that can be done to achieve increased downtown commerce?
jo October 13, 2011 at 03:23 PM
sorry Rose.. I have seen enough of those out of control meetings to last a lifetime..scary how they have morphed into a hate fest... my union dead and we stifle a company like Target.. Dems to me are anti business and they continue to keep me thinking that way... So Tony was a bit nervous.. that does not make him unqualifed in my mind... did he need a telepompt ?? lol
Dick Johnson October 13, 2011 at 04:08 PM
How could Rigger be the "brains" behind killing Lowe's when he wasn't on the council? Was he on some other board that I'm not aware of? I'm confused.
Katie Schmidt Feder October 13, 2011 at 05:18 PM
Can we PLEASE stop talking about Target? Target never said they were going to come to Peekskill! (Have heard nothing of Lowes) Everyone seems to forget that when the Target idea was on the table the Repubicans had a majority! Yet the fact that TARGET is not here is always blamed on the Democrats? Do we really want Peekskill to be a weekend destination based on a Target & Lowes? How about a Performing and Literary Arts Center that would be a home for local performance groups & theatre companies, unique guest companies and eventually house a premier professional regional theatre company. In contrast to the Paramount which is only a venue, this center would provide provide rehearsal and arts education space, set and costume shops & storage and venue space for weddings & corporate parties. EMBARK|Peekskill has begun such a journey and we see the White Plains Complex as a potential place to develop our center, along with other specialty shops (i.e. art supply store, maybe a nice clothing & shoe store ;). This would continue to expand the vibrant downtown to the north - and with the help of the aforementioned trolley - tie to downtown galleries, restaurants and shops. This might well draw folks from a wide radius to Peeksill for a weekend arts getaway! For many of us who moved here from NYC, have young families and are involved in the arts - this is what we can see for Peekskill's future. If we just wanted Lowes and Target, we would have moved to Long Island or Jersey!
John Q. Public October 13, 2011 at 08:00 PM
Katie, Yes the Peekskill GOP attracted Target-Lowe's to Peekskill, and the Target-Lowe's deal was supposed to close in 2008. Then Mary Foster happened. Foster, Rigger, Bennett et al killed the deal. Dropped it dead. Cultural and historical tourism is a big part of Peekskill. But without something to attract foot-traffic, what do we have, Look at Lyndhurst. It's closing down. History is no longer the main attraction though it can be an additional attraction. We need major commerce in Peekskill and the Peekskill Dems have shut Peekskill down for business.
Peekskill Honey October 13, 2011 at 08:17 PM
Katie, the only shred of solid evidence that alludes to Target (not Lowe's) expressing interest in Peekskill is a one-line letter from Target corporate that only states they were interested in Peekskill's market and would discuss it. That's it. There was no deal, no "about to close" and Lowe's was not mentioned in the one-line letter. Anyone can FOIL it for proof.
Dick Johnson October 13, 2011 at 09:03 PM
I do love Target....and I understand that it would've brought a lot of revenue...but it's not here. Amen Katie and kudos to Honey! There are people that truly don't want big business in Peekskill...and there are other people that do want it....seriously, you can't make everyone happy. Everyone is always screaming nasty words about Foster....it's an entire council! and there is an entire administration that runs things all day long! let's not be so naive to think that one woman can make every single bone-headed decision.
John Q. Public October 13, 2011 at 09:31 PM
If any has a heart and cares about what's right for this City, if you care about your pocketbook, you have to admit Mary Foster has done nothing for this City. It's her, Drew Claxton, Darren Rigger, Don Bennett, Joe Schuder, Patty Riley - each of these people have opposed responsible, careful, and strategic commercial redevelopment in Peekskill. We need better leaders. Just look what they've done to the City finances. People like Katie drank Rigger's Kool AId. Having lost the ability to read and reason, they can't read City audits and understand taxes have increased by $5 million under Foster and nothing has done to make our City better.
John Q. Public October 13, 2011 at 09:32 PM
If any has a heart and cares about what's right for this City, if you care about your pocketbook, you have to admit Mary Foster has done nothing for this City. It's her, Drew Claxton, Darren Rigger, Don Bennett, Joe Schuder, Patty Riley - each of these people have opposed responsible, careful, and strategic commercial redevelopment in Peekskill. We need better leaders. Just look what they've done to the City finances. People like Katie drank Rigger's Kool AId. Having lost the ability to read and reason, they can't read City audits and understand taxes have increased by $5 million under Foster and nothing has done to make our City better.
John Q. Public October 13, 2011 at 09:43 PM
When Mary Foster first got elected the City audit said the City spent $28 million. The City Manager's new budget spends $36 million. That's an $8 million increase in spending by Foster. Where has this money been spent?
Dick Johnson October 13, 2011 at 10:30 PM
John, you're clearly an intelligent man. Have you ever sat down and read the budget? Like REALLY read the budget?? There is a city that has to be ran. There are bills that have to get paid. There are buildings and properties to maintain. Who pays to keeps the streets lit and streets paved and parks groomed and community activities?? There is a huge staff to pay, and in order for ANYTHING to happen, you need a staff! This isn't Sim City...things don't just happen. Have you ever sat down with the Mayor or even requested to sit down with her?? Or is it easier to say a bunch of crap about her on the internet?? Maybe if you involved yourself directly you would have a better understanding. No one in their right minds would sit up there and take the abuse like that council does. Since everyone has all the right ideas, involve yourself in the problem and find REAL SOLUTIONS.
Peekskill Honey October 13, 2011 at 10:45 PM
Save the FOIL. Here's the link to the letter. One line: "....Target's continued interest in developing a suitable Target department store in the Peekskill market." That's it. There was no contract, no ground-breaking - only continued interest. http://johngtesta.com/pdf%20files/Peekskill_RFQ_Letter_from_Target.pdf
John Q. Public October 14, 2011 at 03:25 AM
Yes, Rose. I have read the budget. In its presentation, the City obfuscates basic facts that intelligent leaders need to make rational decisions. Major expenses that the City pays to a single vendor are divided by department so you can't get a real handle on them, and address them directly - think payroll, health care, insurance. Public companies don't have the ability under the law to delay distribution of information and obfuscate as much as Peekskill does. The biggest line item is personnel, and the City has been remiss in negotiating contracts with many of them. This is not leadership. The budget is a political document drafted by bureaucrats protecting their turf. Yes the City needs be run. But we ran well on $30 million/year in expenditures and had 58 police then. Now we spend $36 million/year & still have 58 police. You don't need to sit down with the Mayor to see where the waste is. Nothing in the City Charter empowers the Common Council to speculate in real estate, which is now costing us more than $600,000 a year in interest expense. The City set aside money in 2005 to cover increased pension costs but Foster spent this money on a pipe dream This money is not paying people. It's being spent to buy dead undesirable contaminated land with no plan to sell it. It's being spent on consultants. It's being spent on lawyers, And as for paving streets, this Administration has been wasting money so many places it hasn't been able to address infrastructure.
Liz Giegerich October 14, 2011 at 04:37 AM
Elizabeth, We posted all candidates responses as they were submitted. The information in this article is not our reporting, but Rigger's unedited responses. Here is my article on the proposed budget with more details on the figures you mention above: http://patch.com/A-m99T
Dick Johnson October 14, 2011 at 03:23 PM
Mary Foster CANNOT spend money on her own. It comes with votes, it comes with ideas from the administration and from the publics requests. You're right, there are still 58 police...but just as the rest of the economy has gone to crap all around the country, so did ours. It's expensive housing criminals for the night or transporting them to Valhalla day in and day out. The real problem is RICK FINN. he alone costs the city over $300k per year. A huge waste of money for someone who doesn't even deal with his own employees. That was probably the biggest mistake that the Dems made yet. That guy is a waste of space and now that a Human Resources consultant has come in, maybe they can figure out where the excess personnel expenses are. Mary NEEDS to bring in consultants because the previous administration brought in nothing but under-qualified family members to run City Hall. Why would the council bring in consultants for Human Resource issues...?? Because the current boneheads are making us look foolish with all of these "racism" issues that they tried to sweep under the carpet. How about we get rid of every single family member of Vinnie Vesce that is working in City Hall....i promise you Peekskill will save over a milion dollars. But you wouldn't agree with that Q, now would you? You might miss out on those Republican fund-raisers are your bar then.
John Q. Public October 14, 2011 at 06:42 PM
Peekskill is spending $5million more a year because of Mary Foster and Darren Rigger. No one else on the Council says a word. Every Council member has taken their marching orders from them, rubber-stamped everything Rigger & Foster have said with closed lips -- Kill Target, gut the police force, raid the fund balance, raid the water fund, raise taxes, ignore the obvious challenges our City faces. If Foster were a true leader, she wouldn't need to hire consultants to address issues of racism. These issues were never raised before she took office. Finn's record was well publicized. He has a record of wasting taxpayer's money and he has a lot to learn as a manager with respect to compassion, human kindness. Every council member and Darren Rigger was aware of this. Now they want to run away from their choice because it exposes their bad judgment. The Dems can't pass the buck on their failure. They must own it. And go gently into the night. Anyone who cares about Peekskill will not continue to enable the Dem's failure, their fiscal irresponsibility, their racial insensitivity. Compassionate people understand it's time for change.
Flem Snopes Jr. October 19, 2011 at 12:54 PM
The Snopes Family just received the Talbot/Rigger flier. There seemed to be an omission from the Rigman's curriculum vitae. He accidentally left out that he was (is?) a fundraiser for the criminal tax cheat and ethical black hole known as Charles "Charlie" Rangel. The Snopes's realize this was an inadvertent oversight and have no doubt it will be corrected in future editions of the flier.


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