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Lost $10M State Grant, Late Campaign Finance Reports Spark Debate In Ossining Mayoral Race

Ossining Mayor Victoria Gearity turns up the heat against her Nov. 6 challenger. Photo Credit: File
Tuesday's election for mayor in the Village of Ossining has been heating up in recent weeks. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

Mayoral candidates in the Village of Ossining clashed over the village's inability to receive a $10 million state economic redevelopment grant.

On her website, Ossining Mayor Victoria Gearity claimed that village Trustee Omar Herrera, who is challenging her for mayor on Tuesday, Nov. 6, jeopardized the village’s chances of being awarded a Downtown Revitalization Initiative Grant from the MidHudson Region of the Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC). Earlier this year, Herrera proposed a building moratorium for Ossining.

“The REDC will only entrust $10M to a community with leadership that is committed to smart economic development. New Rochelle sent a clear message to the DRI decision makers that they are committed to smart economic development that reflects their community’s priorities,” Gearity said while congratulating New Rochelle on being the first Westchester community to get the funding.

“Unfortunately, the current political climate in Ossining sent a very different message. When my opponent began publicly calling for a moratorium as a top priority in his vision for the future, the Village lost any chance of being awarded the DRI for 2018,” Gearity said.

Herrera -- who lost to Gearity by 55 to 45 percent in the Sept. 13 Democratic Party primary -- is now trying  to defeat her by running on the Working Families Party ballot line

Herrera called Gearity’s statements “slanderous and false,” according to media reports, and accused her of attempting to politicize the grant process.

“This raises many questions: the mayor’s communications with the state and how it does not reflect the majority of the board,” Herrera said.

Herrera said he requested a discussion on a possible building moratorium after getting input from current and former school board members, as well as residents and property owners concerned about Ossining’s ability to handle more development and its impact on the Ossining School District.

In a separate campaign flap on Thursday, Gearity's campaign disclosed that Herrera has failed to file timely financial disclosure reports required of all elected officials in New York state.

Herrera has been calling for more transparency in government, but doesn’t seem to be practicing what he preaches, Gearity said in a press statement.

“This is another example of my opponent’s actual lack of transparency and inattention to required details,” Gearity said. “In order to run an effective government, you need to know and follow details and rules. Professionalism is one of the keystones of being a good mayor.”

"Friends of Omar Herrera" did not file a 32-day pre-election campaign finance report due on Oct. 5 to the state Board of Elections. His campaign also missed the 11-day pre-general report deadline on Oct. 26.

The next filing deadline is Dec. 3, four weeks after the election. Click here to see the filing schedule the state created to help candidates know the deadlines.

Gearity's campaign has filed the required state paperwork on time.

The last report that Herrera filed was on Sept. 24, listing a campaign fund balance of nearly $4,667.

“Deadlines matter,” Gearity said. “There are a lot of things a mayor has to do in office, and many of them revolve around meeting deadlines. Without that, we could lose funding from the county, state and federal government. It all adds up.”

Meanwhile, County Executive George Latimer endorsed Gearity this week.

“Mayor Gearity has my full support for her re-election," Latimer said. "Her progressive leadership is helping Ossining flourish."

The two-term mayor is the only elected woman mayor in the village's history.

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