The Irvington Democratic Committee held its annual convention on Feb. 8, endorsing incumbent Brian Smith for mayor and Arlene Burgos and Mitchell Bard for village trustee in the November 2021 elections. Trustees Constance Kehoe and Janice Silverberg announced they will not seek reelection.
Smith, 47, has been mayor since 2011, after serving two years as a trustee. He has presided over the village’s recovery from Hurricane Sandy, the updating of Irvington’s Comprehensive Plan, and improvements to Matthiessen Park, village hall, and the downtown war memorials. Anasset management professional, Smith won a Tony Award as one of producers of the 2017 revival of the musical “Once on This Island.”
A second-generation graduate of Irvington High School, Smith and his wife, Keira, also an Irvington alum, have two children, both of whom have gone through district schools. Their daughter graduated in 2020, and their son is a sophomore at Irvington High School. Smith was a volunteer firefighter with the Irvington Fire Department and served as an EMT with the Irvington Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
This is the first time he will be running on the Democratic line on the ballot. Originally a Republican, he ran on the “Irvington First” line in 2017 and 2019. He has become a strong supporter of progressive causes such as more diverse housing opportunities in the village, and has participated in the 2020 roundtable discussions on racial diversity and inclusion in the village.
“Being the mayor of Irvington has been the honor of my life,” Smith said. “There is still a lot of work to do and I look forward to working with my colleagues to get it done for the residents of Irvington. The last year has been especially challenging, but it has also been very rewarding: working to help our friends and neighbors get through a difficult time, and hopefully coming out not only stronger but filled with even more gratitude for the wonderful place we live. While I am excited to be running with two unbelievably qualified and energetic candidates in Arlene and Mitch, I will deeply miss Connie and Janice on the board of trustees. Connie and I have been on the board together since 2009, so I literally do not know what it is like not to have her by my side. I will especially miss her passion for historic preservation. Janice brought her legal expertise and all her years of public service at the school district. She has been a wonderful sounding board for me over the years.”
Kehoe, a trustee since 2009, has focused on strategic and long-range planning. She was also a driving force in the designation of Irvington’s downtown as a historic district. “I plan to keep doing my job with enthusiasm,” she told the Enterprise on Feb. 16. Kehoe is president of Revolutionary Westchester 250, a nonprofit organization established to raise awareness of the area’s role in the American War of Independence.
Silverberg, a retired attorney, joined the village board in 2015, after nine years on the Irvington School Board. She has been a proponent of more fair and affordable housing for Irvington.
“I’ve loved what I’ve done,” she said. “I really consider it a community trust to do the best job for the village, but there are plenty of people ready to step up.”
Burgos, 48, is a 10-year resident of Irvington. A partner in the Manhattan law firm of Loeb, Block & Partners LLP, she and her husband, Jorge Magallón, have two children in Irvington schools, one in second grade and the other in seventh grade.
Activism is a lifelong interest, beginning with her studies of race at Yale and then as co-chair of La Allianza, the Latino student group at Harvard Law School. She told the Enterprise, “For me, I think it’s hard to be a person of color in these environments… You can either stay on the sidelines or open your mouth.”
She has been involved in diversity initiatives in Irvington since 2019, when she became co-chair of the PTSA’s new Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She has also been active in Black Lives Matter, the Irvington is for Everyone initiative, the Commemorating Enslaved Africans Committee, the Police Reform Committee, and the partnership of the school district and the NYU Metropolitan Center to develop a racial justice program in the schools.
Burgos said, “Some of the initiatives I’ve been working on, these decisions on big things and small things, all fit with the local village government. That made me think of the impact I could have by running for local office. I felt it was important to be a voice on the actual board, and not just someone coming to the board to advocate for these issues.”
Bard, a resident of Irvington since 2013, is also interested in progressive causes. With a law degree and a Ph.D. in journalism and mass communications, Bard, 54, runs the journalism concentration as a tenured professor at Iona College in New Rochelle. He is active in Indivisible Dobbs-Irvington and has been a member of the Irvington Theater Commission for three years. He and his wife, Ronna, an attorney, have a son in fifth grade at Main Street School.
“Irvington is facing, and will face, a lot of the problems other villages will face,” Bard told the Enterprise. “We’re in a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic... also, not unique to Irvington, is the reckoning on systemic racism we’re facing. ‘Irvington is for Everyone’ is not just a slogan; we need to do better in that regard as well. The issues that Irvington is facing are the issues everyone is facing.”
When he’s not teaching, Bard said he is “a big Yankee fan” who held a Friday night season ticket before the pandemic. He is also the drummer in a rock band called “Dog Years.”
Correction: In the Feb. 19 issue of the newspaper, this story misreported that Constance Kehoe and Janice Silverberg will seek reelection.