Mayor-elect Frank Catalina apparently will be joined by two fellow Republicans on the Peekskill Common Council after GOP candidate Vincent Vesce received three more votes than a Democratic incumbent.
More than two weeks after the election, the race between six candidates for three full-term council seats had been too close to call until Wednesday when the Westchester Board of Elections counted absentee and affidavit ballots.
According to unofficial results, Republican Joe Torres finished in first place with 2,103 votes, and was followed by incumbent Democrat Drew Claxton with 2,094.
Vesce — son of former Mayor Vincent C. Vesce — secured the third seat with 2,058, three votes ahead of incumbent Democrat Marybeth McGowan. Republican Chris Hanzlik finished in fifth with 2,049 and was followed by incumbent Democrat Andrew Torres with 1,993.
Catalina had already won his race for mayor, overcoming a nearly 3-1 registration disadvantage on his way to beating Foster by 168 votes. And in a special election for an unexpired term on the Common Council, Democrat Vivian McKenzie beat Republican Leslie Detres 2,121 to 1,864.
Reginald Lafayette, the Democratic commissioner of the Board of Elections, said he was not aware of any legal challenges to the results. Attempts to reach city Democratic Committee chair Marina Ciotti were unsuccessful.
Despite losing three seats, the Democrats still hold a 4-3 advantage on the council.
“We knew we would be victorious, but we didn’t know it would be this close,” Catalina told The Journal News. “It’s not a majority, but we don’t run the government as Democrats or Republicans. We run it for what’s in the best interest of Peekskill.”
Before 2001, the council had been all Republican for more than two decades. But come January, the GOP will be represented on the council for the first time since 2009.
Although he lost his seat, Andrew Torres said it’s important the Democrats retained their majority.
“The people voted and they decided they wanted some change,” said Torres, who served for six years. “I’m just glad there’s a continuity of thoughts and ideas.
Mayor-elect Catalina is already discussing his plan to repeal the real estate transfer tax — a proposal that’s likely to prove divisive when he takes office in January.
Catalina also said he’s met with city manager, Anthony Ruggerio. Catalina has been critical of the five-year contract offered to Ruggerio this summer.
“We don’t have the votes to make a change, but I’m not inclined to,” Catalina said. “I have a willingness to work with him and let’s see how it goes. He’s got to balance a two-party council and bring out the skills to manage that.”
Photo: Peekskill mayor-elect and former city attorney Frank Catalina