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Peekskill Common Council Race Remains Undecided

Peekskill Mayor-Elect Frank Catalina is hoping a judge will lift an injunction and allow absentee ballots to be counted to decide Peekskill's too close to call Common Council election.
Peekskill Mayor-Elect Frank Catalina is hoping a judge will lift an injunction and allow absentee ballots to be counted to decide Peekskill's too close to call Common Council election. Photo Credit: File Photo

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- More than a week after the election, Marybeth McGowan and Vincent Vesce still don't know if they will be on Peekskill's Common Council next year.

Democratic incumbent McGowan and Republican Vesce are tied with 1,967 votes in third place for the Peekskill Common Council. Republican Chris Hanzlik is only six votes behind them in 4th place. Three seats were up for election this year.

The race is so tight that Republican Joe Torres, who came in 1st with 2,009 votes, leads 6th place finisher Democrat incumbent Andrew Torres by less than 100 votes.

Voting machines in the 9th Judicial District were impounded by state Supreme Court Justice Lewis Lubell after the election. The 9th Judicial District covers Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Dutchess and Putnam counties.

Both sides were in court today to attempt to lift the injunction and allow absentee and affidavit votes in Peekskill to be counted.

Mayor-elect Republican Frank Catalina, who defeated three-term incumbent Mary Foster, said he hopes to have the votes counted by Friday. He said absentee ballots tend to go two to one Republican.

"I think Vincent Vesce can get one more vote than Marybeth," Catalina said. "[Councilwoman] Drew Claxton [who came in second], should be concerned she holds onto her seat. We'll see."

Claxton finished with 2,003 votes.

If the Republicans manage to defeat both Claxton and McGowan, they will have a majority in Peekskill for the first time since 2007. Currently the makeup of the council is all Democrats.

But Democrats expect to hold onto their majority of the council. Councilman Darren Rigger said Claxton will be named majority leader and Councilwoman Vivian McKenzie, who won a special election to fill an unexpired term, will be deputy majority leader. Rigger said it was "very, very unlikely" Claxton would be defeated.

"We are not yet sure as to the size of the Democratic majority, but we wanted to make sure we had our leadership in place for the new year," Rigger said.

Rigger said he doesn't ever recall Peekskill ever having the mayor not be a member of the majority party.

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