Peekskill Democrats Select November Slate; Progressives Plan Primary Challenge


Jim Striebich  

 — On Thursday evening the Peekskill Democratic City Committee held their January meeting, nominating a slate of candidates for the November ballot to replace outgoing Mayor Andre Rainey and fill three Common Council seats: those currently held by Democrats Vanessa Agudelo, Ramon Fernandez and Dwight Douglas. 
The Committee District Leaders voted to endorse their Nominating Committee’s recommended slate composed of current Common Council Member and Deputy Mayor Vivian McKenzie as the endorsed candidate for Mayor. For Common Council they nominated current Council Members Ramon Fernandez and Dwight Douglas, and middle school teacher Steve Kollias.
A challenging slate of four progressive Democrats, calling themselves “Progress 4 Peekskill”, were also nominated by District Leaders prior to the vote. The group is led by Conor Greene, founder of the urban advocacy group “Peekskill Walks”, for Mayor; with current Council Member Vanessa Agudelo, Democratic Committee member and District Leader Amy Vele, and education advocate Amy Perlow running for the open Common Council seats.
Shortly after the meeting, Progress 4 Peekskill circulated a press release indicating their intention to challenge the DemocraticCommittee’s endorsed candidates in the June primary: 
The ‘Progress 4 Peekskill’ team is running on a strong record of grassroots community advocacy and a bold, inclusive platform based on equitable growth, participatory government, and housing justice. The slate and platform was formed as a result of input from dozens of Peekskill residents representing a wide range of community concerns and priorities, and to ensure that Democratic voters have a choice of candidates in the June 22nd primary election.
Reached for comment, Drew Claxton, Chairwoman for the Peekskill Democrats, responded:
The Peekskill Democratic City Committee conducted an open, transparent and inclusive process to select candidates for nomination. None of the candidates now choosing to primary chose to participate in the nominating process.
A press release from the PDCC notes that, if elected, Deputy Mayor McKenzie would be “only the second African American woman to lead a Westchester County town or city”.