On a cool 46-degree day on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, the Ossining Village Board of Trustees met in Village Hall for the regularly scheduled Work Session. Unbeknownst to us, it would be the last time we would meet in person for over two years.
The pandemic not only ushered in the era of Village Board of Trustee meetings being broadcast on Zoom, it also caused the entire community to mobilize. In the early days of the pandemic, our community was hungry for information about personal protective equipment and ways to stay safe. They were also hungry for meals, since food insecurity increased after the massive disruption that came from directives to stay at home.
That is when I saw Mayor Rika Levin (then Deputy Mayor) jump into action. She helped to coordinate community groups, publish information about resources, and provide a voice of steady leadership. Manuel Quezada, our current Deputy Mayor and a Trustee at the time, did the same for the Spanish-speaking community in Ossining. Dana White was the Village Historian in that period, though I saw her taking advantage of ways to serve the community just as much as folks on the Board.
Those tough times underscored some of the inequalities that existed in our community long before Covid. They also gave public servants an opportunity to work together with concerned community members, first responders, and essential workers to keep us going. Mayor Levin and Trustees Quezada and White proved that when the going gets tough, they’ll keep going.
Since that March evening in 2020, the world has changed a lot. Covid, while still a concern, has receded. This has created room for groups and institutions to hold events and a sense of normalcy to return. Mayor Levin has been able to champion many big picture issues, most notably infrastructure improvements and sustainability. She has declared her goal to make Ossining the greenest village in the country, and we are well on our way. Whether it is by changing village vehicles and equipment from gas to electric, solarizing the train station parking lots, or the creation of a rain garden at Richard Wishnie Park that collects water from the street and allows it to soak into the ground, Ossining is becoming greener thanks to her leadership.
Trustee Quezada has taken it upon himself to review all of the Village’s regular expenses in a process called the voucher detail report. Every two weeks, Trustee Quezada walks into Village Hall at 16 Croton Avenue and reviews each expense, ensuring that Village funds are being used appropriately. Most people do not know that he volunteers to take on this task, but without him there would not be a consistent pubic advocate giving these expenses a second look.
Trustee White has been a fixture at business grand openings, street dedications and community events. Her presence ensures that the Village Board of Trustees is represented throughout the community and gives folks someone they can turn to if they ever have a question.
I’ve had the honor to work shoulder to shoulder with all three of these leaders as an Ossining Village Trustee and enthusiastically endorse them for another term. Our future is bright. Thanks to their leadership, we’ll have the thoughtful public servants that can make that future a reality.
Ossining Village Trustee