My Peekskill — # 23 The Peekskill Democrats’ Spring Fling, starring Darren Rigger


Darren's last day at City Hall

Darren’s last day at City Hall

If you haven’t heard, the Peekskill Democratic City Committee is throwing a big party. It’s called the Spring Fling and it’ll happen on May 14th – Find out all about it here (

Anyone who’s anyone, or hoping to be, among Westchester Democrats will be there, along with the people who love them. You should be there, too!

Though he’ll tell you he feels like an old man, put out to pasture with a lifetime achievement award like the Clint Eastwood of Peekskill Democrats, he’s being a good sport about being the guest of honor.

I recently caught up with him at the nearly completely Wonderstruck Peekskill Coffee House and asked him five questions:

1. What do you believe Peekskill politics needs most now?

A printed, independent newspaper that’s verified and fact checked. We need a paper we can trust, that will do real investigative journalism and host community discussion, letters to editors, guest columnists.

2. What’s the best reason to come to the Spring Fling?

To help celebrate all the great work Democratic elected officials have done in last 10 years. A lot of people of people are going to be there – community leaders, business leaders, activists, elected officials. It’s going to be the place to be. Don’t be somewhere else.

3. What should the Democrats do to encourage the future leaders of the party?

My theme is summed up by something by Dad used to say: don’t ever confuse kindness with weakness. You can be strong and fight against injustice without being mean. Mean politics is causing many people to reject party politics altogether.

4. What’s your favorite memory of your time as an elected official?

After Sandy Hook I suggested a Gun Buyback to the Mayor, the Council, and the Chief of Police. We put the whole thing together – from fundraisers and contributions, without a dime of taxpayer money – and took in 70 guns, including an assault rifle, a gun with the serial numbers filed off, and a sawed-off shotgun. Any of those guns could have been used to hurt a child. That was my most satisfying moment, seeing that big pile of guns taken off the street. It made some people really angry. I was cursed, got hate mail, and I’m glad I did it.

5. Have you given any consideration to running for mayor yourself?

(Laughs heartily for quite a while, then:) No Comment.

If you show up at the Spring Fling, be sure to talk to Darren about some of his political insights and experiences. He was in Florida for the Bush v. Gore recount. We remembered together the deeply upsetting moment the Supreme Court gave the Presidency to Bush – I’d always been less anxious because if things ever got bad enough the Supreme Court would step in to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law. Having lost that confidence made life in this country that much more vertiginous.

Darren’s worked on more than 100 campaigns in his 25 year political career. He’s worked with such Democratic luminaries as David Dinkins, Dick Gephardt, Charlie Rangel, John Hall, Al Gore. He spent the turn of the millennium in the White House, where he met Jack Nicholson.

He wants the Spring Fling to be PDCC’s biggest and most financially successful fundraiser. He’s proud of Peekskill’s Democrats, “The Democratic surge started with Drew Claxton who proved, after many years, that a Democrat could be elected, and once elected, could be effective. She led the charge, and worked as the only Democrat in a very hostile environment. Since then, there was a moment when Peekskill’s representatives, from Mayor to Albany to Congress and the White House were all Democrats. He’d love to see you on May 14th to help celebrate as many of those Democrats as possible.

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