by Barrett Seaman
There are three open slots on the November ballot for seats on the Irvington Village Board of Trustees: one for mayor and two for trustees. With little more than three months to go, there are exactly three candidates vying to fill those seats: Mayor Brian C. Smith is seeking a fourth term as the village’s chief executive; Deputy Mayor Connie Kehoe is going for a fifth term as a trustee and third as deputy mayor, while newcomer Janice Silverberg aspires to a second term on the board.
Smith, originally a Republican, said he is running on “the independent (lower case ‘i’) Irvington First party line,” having broken with the state and national GOP over a number of Trump-era positions. Both Kehoe and Silverberg are Democrats who were nominated by their local party unanimously at the June 6 convention and have already submitted more than the required number of petitions to the Board of Elections. The mayor began that process only this past month.
The local Republican Party, which is paired with the independent Irvington First party line, has decided not to put up a challenger for the mayor’s job but may still field a candidate or candidates for the trustee seats.
“We have not yet, however, decided whether to run anyone against Connie and Janice,” says GOP chair Rocco “Rick” Rasulo. The Independent Party nominating petitions are due in August, but those who follow politics in the village say they have not heard of any candidates emerging.
The lack of opposition is at least partly a reflection of satisfaction with the jobs being done by these incumbents but even more so an indication of the non-partisan nature of village politics. In his Facebook announcement, Smith referred to an article about small town government by KJ Dell’Antonia in the July 2 issue of the New York Times that reads in part: “Americans are fond of saying that all politics is local, but the thing is, when it’s local, it’s not ‘politics.’”
The clearest political act by the current board was the May adoption of a resolution stating that the village would not cooperate with federal immigration efforts to round up undocumented immigrants. That resolution was originally crafted by a group calling itself the Irvington Activists, a group made up largely of progressives with a broad agenda pushing back against Trump policies. But Smith was quick to embrace the resolution and voted for it along with the four Democrats on the board.
The mayor drew muted criticism last year when he voted against an assisted living facility proposed by the Brightview Corporation, thereby killing a project that could have brought the village $600,000 in tax revenues. Three of the four remaining trustees had indicated support for the proposal.
“I still greatly enjoy working, debating, thinking, celebrating, talking and compromising with residents and fellow board members as we try to find what is best for the village we all love so much,” Smith wrote in his Facebook announcement.
Kehoe has been a champion of Irvington’s all-but-complete Historic District, which encompasses virtually all of the village’s downtown. She has also shepherded an ambitious “Streetscape” project that is exploring ways to modernize the downtown commercial district with better and clearer pedestrian markings, parking, lighting and, most ambitiously, underground utility wires. Kehoe is also an active supporter of the Town Hall Theater, the Tiffany Room and the expansion of Eileen Fisher’s social consciousness initiatives in the village.
Silverberg came to the board with experience on the school board and the village’s housing committee. “My personal commitment is to continue to focus on creative approaches to affordable housing,” she says. And like the rest of her trustee colleagues, she is all in on the ongoing Comprehensive Plan (see story, page 4). “I look forward to working with the mayor, my fellow board members and village residents to complete the Comprehensive Planning process,” she said. “This was a significant undertaking that doesn’t end with the articulation of our goals, but requires careful planning to ensure that we in fact achieve these goals.”