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Jen Laird-White To Run For Nyack Mayor

Jen Laird-WhiteNyack Village Trustee Jen Laird-White will soon announce her run for Mayor, likely facing incumbent Richard Kavesh in a September Democratic Primary. Laird-White confirmed the veracity of political rumors to Left of the Hudson, and said that she’s strongly considering a run and will make an announcement ‘€œin about a week.’€

A former broadcast  journalist, Laird-White has been active in civic causes since she moved to Nyack with her family in 1999. She was elected to a two-year term as a Village Trustee in 2009. Previous to that, Laird-White founded the Nyack Park Conservancy, an ambitious organization dedicated to recasting Memorial Park with more diverse recreational options. Without taxpayer money, the Conservancy developed what is often called ‘€œa world-class park design.’€

Her role with the Park Conservancy prompted former Mayor John Shields to appoint Laird-White to the Village’s Parks Commission. She continues to serve on that board in addition to her duties as a trustee.

While Laird-White’s impending candidacy comes as a surprise to some, others saw this coming months ago: ‘€œI think Jen feels her talents are in managing, not legislating,’€ a villager active in civics said. ‘€œI think that if you’re considering either Richard [Kavesh] or Jen, what you’re really considering is two different management styles. They have different degrees of pragmatism and have different ambitions for the village.’€

However, Nyack’s finances have seemingly improved since Kavesh became mayor in 2009. Recently, the village announced an annual tax hike for less than a percent after many years of large increases. Nyack was able to do so mostly as a result of debt consolidation. The village, however, still has many pressing issues, including the Superblock redevelopment, shopping district beautification, the neglected municipal marina, and noise and crime issues resulting from a burgeoning Main Street nightclub scene.

A Democratic political insider, who asked not to be named, told Left of the Hudson that while he felt Laird-White’s candidacy was ‘€œa long shot,’€ he wouldn’t count her out. ‘€œJen’s got a pretty good brand, but it will be hard to beat an incumbent Mayor who was in office during such a small tax increase.’€

Nyack is such a heavily Democratic area that whoever wins the September primary will almost surely win the general election in November. Republican and third-party candidates typically only garner a small percentage of the vote, and rarely is there a challenge from right. Even 2009’s hard-fought Independence Party challenge by erstwhile Democratic candidate Denise Hogan fell well short, even with profound support from local businesses.

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Local Democratic committees do not discourage primaries, although committee members will likely endorse one candidate for Mayor at an upcoming village convention. The lack of a party endorsement should not dishearten candidates from seeking the Democratic spot on the primary ballot. Locally, candidates who have not been endorsed by their parties often go on to defeat a committee’s choice.

Cliff Weathers is the publisher of Left of the Hudson, a progressive news and opinion blog for the Lower Hudson Valley.




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