MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – For more than two decades, Roberta Apuzzo has been a Mount Vernon fixture, serving as the executive director for the largest soup kitchen in southern Westchester and spending four years as a member of the City Council.
With the Democratic primary election for City Council just days away on Sept. 10, Apuzzo has again taken to the streets near the South Fifth Avenue soup kitchen, trying to identify what steps need to be taken to help revive the once flourishing city.
“I’ve been around here for more than 20 years. I’ve walked the streets here. I see that our city faces many challenges,” she said. “One of the most imperative things we have to look for is economic development so that the city can thrive and become more vital.”
Apuzzo said that the City Council is looking for responsible development that would increase the quality of life for residents and possibly reduce the tax burden on the city. Projects like the Enclave on 5th, which includes both housing and commercial space, are a part of Apuzzo’s plan to create progress in Mount Vernon.
“The more that we can do to increase the level and quality of life in the city will help restore the community’s faith in its government,” she said. “The more revenue the city gets the less taxes we need to impose on residents.”
According to Apuzzo, one of the biggest challenges facing the City Council is that the public doesn’t believe its concerns are being heard. She hopes to increase the communication and visibility of the council if she is re-elected. Under her direction, the council has started a monthly radio program on WVOX and twice a year, ordinary citizens are celebrated at a ceremony for doing extraordinary things in the community.
“[People] don’t always feel like they’re being heard when they make a call to city hall. By simply responding to calls and messages, the public can say, ‘I was heard,’” Apuzzo said. “This is an incredible city with wonderful people. I have heard some of their concerns, and many of them will be a high priority.”
Voters said that they valued Apuzzo’s experience at the city council debate at Wartburg last week.
“She’s been our best, and most loyal [council member] during her time in office,” resident Darlene White said. “I think it will be a big mistake if we don’t let her finish what she started.”
If re-elected, Apuzzo said that she plans to help Mount Vernon to a city that people throughout the county will want to flock to for shopping, living and recreation.
“We need to get to the people so that we can change their mentality. We need to be out there,” she said. “There needs to be zero tolerance for crime; zero tolerance for people keeping their property in disarray. I’ve been all over this city. It really is a great city.”
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