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Democrats Sweep in Peekskill Council Election

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. - The Democratic slate, led by Mayor Mary Foster, swept all four seats Tuesday night in the City of Peekskill, according to unofficial Westchester County election results.

Foster, a two-term incumbent, defeated Republican challenger Tony Washington. In the Common Council race, Deputy Mayor Don Bennett won his third four-year term, while running mates Kathy Talbot and Darren Rigger earned their first terms, besting Republican hopefuls Joe Brady, Barbara Kerasiotis and Steve Woods.

Talbot and Rigger will replace Joe Schuder and Patricia Riley, who did not seek reelection.

"This was a mountain slide, not a landslide," Schuder said at Democratic headquarters on Main Street as results were compiled.

Foster, an executive director at Grant Thornton, LLP, was elected mayor in 2007 and was reelected for a second term in 2009. She said she has championed sustainable commercial and residential development to support the vision of Peekskill as a premier cultural and economic magnet for the region, working to stimulate downtown redevelopment and repair aging infrastructure.

"Obviously Peekskill likes what we're doing and where we're going and we're going to keep doing it," Foster said. "And God is good."

She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Westchester Municipal Officers Association and a Board Officer of the Northern Westchester Energy Action Consortium. She is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, a former chair of the NYS Society of CPA’s and the AICPA’s technical committees for nonprofit organizations.

Washington ran against Foster on a platform criticizing what he said was wasteful spending and poor management decisions. Washington ran an unsuccessful bid for the city council in 2009. He had argued during the campaign he felt the city was going in the wrong direction due to the current administration. He also pledged to make the city more business friendly.

Bennett was first elected to the council in 2003. He was appointed deputy mayor in 2008 by Foster. An employee of Pamal Broadcasting, Bennett is also a member of Peekskill Rotary and the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce. He has served as board president of the Friends of Hudson Valley Mental Health, as an advocate for the Peekskill Youth Bureau and as a member of the Peekskill City School District’s Citizens Committee for Long-term Financial Planning.

Bennett said after the election he was thankful to get a third term from voters and that he hoped to get residents more involved in the local government of the city.

"They now have to come out and let us really know what they want," Bennett said. "People have written us about those things but they have to participate. Don't just come to the public meetings, come to the work sessions and particpate there. If it's on the agenda you can comment at a work session so talk to us and let us know what you want and hopefully we can get them involved in the process"

Rigger, a political consultant who runs the consulting firm Dymanic SRG in Harlem, is the former Peekskill Democratic chairman and was a candidate for the United States Congress District 19 seat in 2006 before losing in a primary to John Hall. He later worked for Hall in Washington after he was elected and still works with Hall on occasion, he said. Rigger grew up in nearby Putnam Valley and attended the Harvey School, a private school in Katonah, before attending Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

Rigger said he was thrilled to be elected and thanked the many volunteers who helped the campaign.

"It's humbling how many young people went out and knocked on doors and did literature drops late at night and put up yard signs," Rigger said. "Candidates can't do this alone, they need an army."

Talbot is a former graphic design artist who recently became a New York State licensed clinical social worker. She was director of the Women’s Center at VIP Community Service in the Bronx. She has served on several community boards, including the Paramount Center for the Arts, the Peekskill Education Foundation as a founding member, Women in Communication Inc. and Women in Management. She was elected to the New York State Democratic Committee in 1974 and served two terms. She is a homeowner in the Fort Hill section of Peekskill and has a married son and two grandchildren.

"This is my home town," Talbot said. "I was born here and to be part of this feels somewhat surreal but in a way it feels like a natural progression, and maybe I can do something now for the city. I have a lot of ideas and I really like the direction the city has been going in."

Brady served on the Peekskill City Council from 1996 to 2000. He is a senior account executive for the Castle Oil Corporation and is a founding member of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee.

Kerasiotes, a lifelong Peekskill resident and graduate of Peekskill High School, is a guidance counselor at Lakeland High School.

Woods is also a lifelong resident of Peekskill and a graduate of Peekskill High School. He works at Turner Logistics, a Division of Turner Construction, as the Supply Chain Product Manager for electrical/emergency power.

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