John G. Testa, a life-long resident of Peekskill, began his first term on the Westchester County Legislature in January 2010 and was just reelected to a third term. He was also selected by his colleagues to be the Minority Leader for the board. Prior to his District 1 Legislative seat he served 3 terms as Mayor of Peekskill from January 2002 until December 2007.
Before becoming mayor he also served a four-year term as a Councilman. From his first days in office Testa worked tirelessly to set the City on the path of economic stability. Peekskill flourished under this plan, increasing the city fund balance to its highest in history. During John’s tenure in office, the NY State Comptroller’s Office named Peekskill one of the most fiscally sound municipalities in the State; independent auditors proclaimed Peekskill as being in its best fiscal condition in over 30 years; and Moody’s Investor Service agreed to upgrade its bond rating, resulting in further savings. The plan he put in place was so successful that it enabled the City of Peekskill to pass three budgets in a row with a 0% tax increase. These fiscal skills have proven valuable to Testa at the county level as he works to put the brakes on what has been wildly escalating county spending and unchecked government growth. He has pledged his efforts to work to consolidate services, eliminate wasteful spending and improve efficiency. The result has been 7 straight years of 0% tax levy increase for Westchester County taxpayers.
In addition to the fiscal conservatism that served Peekskill so well, Testa worked to promote the city, attracting investment, jobs and an increased tax base. Over $100 million of private investment came to Peekskill in the forms of new residential construction, retail space, and the redevelopment of historic structures.
With an avid interest in history, Testa has worked to preserve local historical structures and promote local history. As a Revolutionary War re-enactor and member of The Brigade of the American Revolution for over 40 years, Testa lectures at local schools and organizations. As mayor he was instrumental in securing the preservation of the Lincoln Depot, Peekskill’s original train depot where President-Elect Abraham Lincoln stopped to address the community in 1861, and now serves as President of the Lincoln Depot Museum Board of Directors. He also secured the preservation of historic Fort Hill as parkland, a 40-acre parcel that was originally a Revolutionary War encampment site and headquarters for the American Army prior to the establishment of West Point. Under his leadership the United States Dept. of the Interior declared Peekskill a “Preserve America Community.” Also under his tenure Peekskill was able to establish a record number of National Register designations of local structures, including the first Downtown and Neighborhood Historic Districts.
Testa has also been instrumental in his support for the Arts Community in Westchester. He presided over the construction of the Peekskill Art Lofts, the first newly constructed live/work co-ops in NY State in over 100 years. Under Testa’s leadership Peekskill secured the establishment of the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, a world-renowned center for high quality art and culture. During Testa’s tenure as mayor the Paramount Center for the Arts, originally a 1930’s movie house,, went through a complete restoration costing over $1 million. For his efforts Testa received the “Advancing the Arts in Westchester Award” by the Westchester Arts Council.
John’s roots are deep within the soil of Northern Westchester. His father’s family has lived here for more than a century and his mother’s family has a long history in the area as well. He is proud that he was born in Peekskill and has lived and worked there all his life and, with his wife Nancy raised their two children there.