2 challengers attempt to unseat Yonkers Mayor SpanoPosted: Updated:
Primary day is just days away, and one of the biggest races in Westchester County is the contest for Yonkers mayor.
News 12 recently sat down with the top Democratic candidates all vying for the city's top job.
The race is a unique one because for the first time in recent history, the mayor of Yonkers is running for a third term. Mayor Mike Spano says he has more work to do, especially when it comes to curbing crime and improving education, but his two democratic challengers say it's time for a change. "There are some wonderful things happening in the city. We've changed the makeup. We've changed the speak of Yonkers. People are proud to say they're from Yonkers, NY now," says Spano.
For decades, the Spano family has wielded influence in the city, and Mayor Spano has used that political savvy to develop the city's waterfront, allocating billions of dollars in commercial and residential projects. He also says crime rates in the city are down drastically.
Despite the mayor’s accomplishments, critics argue two terms are enough.
Spano is being challenged by two relatively unfamiliar faces: Attorney Karen Beltran and community activist Ivy Reeves.
Beltran is a longtime Yonkers resident who immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia at the age of seven. Now an education advocate, she says the city is due for a fresh start. "I want to improve the public education system, ensure that there are high-paying jobs for the residents here in Yonkers, and I want to make sure that we maintain our public safety and really move Yonkers forward with a new perspective."
When it comes to challenging the incumbent, Beltran is not shying away from the challenge. "Being a new, first time candidate, is difficult in any race across the country, but there is a national trend towards people who are not career politicians running for office."
By contrast, Reeves has thrown her hat in the political ring before. She has worked in City Hall and run for City Council, Assembly and Council president. As a former legislative aide to members of city council leadership, Reeves says her biggest priority is to open City Hall to its residents and promote equal opportunity in areas like education, economic development, and the workforce. "A mayor to me is like being the head of a household. We have six districts here in the City of Yonkers, so if you have six children they all have their own unique individual concerns and talents. As a mayor you have to be sensitive to those things."
As the first African-American woman to run for mayor, she says this race is personal. "I'm hoping that from the civil rights movement that when you look at me that eventually you won't see my race, my complexion or my gender, but you'll see my spirit."
Ultimately the residents of Yonkers will decide the issues that matter most to them, and who they want as their Democratic candidate for the office at City Hall, when they head to the polls on June 25.