WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – White Plains Councilwoman Milagros Lecuona says she is running for mayor partly because of her “frustration” with what she calls the current administration’s "lack of vision."
“When you see how fast other cities are moving, it really hits home that we still seem to be stuck where we were 10 years ago,” the Democrat said Monday.
The community activist and urban planner announced her run while standing outside the Westchester County Democrats’ headquarters on East Post Road.
She made it a point to note the vacant storefronts, located in the heart of the city’s business district.
The newly minted hopeful slammed current Mayor Tom Roach for lack of leadership, saying: “Today’s political announcement should not surprise anyone in White Plains, based on what the current administration has been advocating for the last six years.”
Roach responded later Monday by saying that the city has "made great strides in revitalizing" the downtown.
He said his administration has brought in new jobs, enhanced the quality of life for residents and visitors "all while keeping taxes stable, maintaining our AA1 bond rating and ensuring that White Plains continues to be safe, clean, and well managed."
"To all the residents from every corner of this city who have expressed to me their desire for me to continue, I want to say thank you and that I am looking forward to continuing my work as mayor, Roach said in a statement.
The Democratic mayor said his focus remains the continuation of the "progress" the city has made.
As for running for re-election, Roach said he would be "making a more formal announcement in the coming months."
If Roach does decide to run again, he would have to face Lecuona in a September primary.
Lecuona is currently serving a third term on the board, having been re-elected for the second time in 2015. This means, she said, that if she wins the mayor’s post, someone will have to fill the vacancy she left behind.
Calling the regional environment “competitive,” Lecuona said cities struggling to attract new businesses as well as residents still have to do it while “balancing quality of life issues.”
The “ongoing lack of vision, process and leadership” has placed White Plains “on a dangerous path,” she said, adding: “The time to change that path is now.”
Lecuona also decried what she claimed was a “lack of transparency” on the current’s administration’s part, especially when it comes to development.
“Developers schedule meetings with city commissioners, but residents are not even able to access basic information. Our citizens are purposely kept in the dark!,” Lecuona said.
The candidate also claimed that city commissioners “have been instructed not to talk to specific Common Council members.
People are getting, she said, information that is “filtered, manipulated, or delayed.”
Neighborhoods are suffering as a result, Lecuona added in her formal statement.
Originally from the Canary Islands in Spain, Lecuona lived in Mexico before moving her family to White Plains in 1987.
While in Guardalajara, she taught architecture and co-owned an art school.
Besides having a degree in architecture, Lecuona holds master’s degrees in international and public affairs and in urban planning.
She is the principal in an architectural design and urban planning firm in White Plains and teaches urban planning at SUNY Empire State College.
Her focus for the last 15 years has been on educational and cultural projects.
She is a former member of the county’s Planning Board, the White Plains Open Space Acquisition Advisory Committee and the White Plains Cable Commission.
Lecuona also produces a radio show called “Livable Cities.” And, in her spare time, she likes to perform with the Taconic Opera Company.