A History-Making Week in Westchester
Tuckahoe is a village in southern Westchester County, incorporated in 1903 and many refer to it as being one square mile. It is one-and-a-half miles long and three-fourths of a mile wide, with the Bronx River serving as its western boundary. Data USA reports Tuckahoe’s population as 6,587. According to the latest Census estimates the village population is 70.9% white, 7.6% Black, 10.6% Asian and 10.3% Hispanic.
One hundred and eighteen years after its incorporation, the village made history during Women’s History Month on the night of village elections, last Tuesday, March 16th by electing Honorable Omayra Andino, a Latino and self-proclaimed Newyorican, as the first woman mayor of Tuckahoe.
Another history-making event happened on the same evening in Port Chester, where 63% of the population is Latino; Luis Marino is now the village’s first Latino mayor to be elected. These groundbreaking feats are the latest in a line of history-making events and wins changing the face of representation in the region, from Congress, i.e. US Congressmen Mondaire Jones and Jamaal Bowman, to the local level, i.e. Town of Bedford Supervisor, MaryAnn Carr.
Like all of the United States, the first inhabitants of the Tuckahoe region were Native Americans. New York was the home of the Lenape tribes. In fact, the name Tuckahoe is a Native American word for the glutenous root of a plant they roasted and ate as bread. New York and the surrounding areas, include Tuckahoe, remained in British possession until the end of the American Revolution.
Tuckahoe gained popularity in the early 19th century by the discovery of a rich vein of brilliant white marble. Sought after by architects and builders for use in Greek revival structures like the Capitol, the Washington Monument, the New York Public Library and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the stone generated an industry attracting waves of German, Irish, Scottish and Italian immigrant workers.
In the 1840s, to serve quarry owners who transported marble to the city, the New York and Harlem Railroad started the build of two train depots, Tuckahoe and Crestwood. After the Civil War, African-Americans migrated from the South to join the labor pool. The Tuckahoe quarries produced heavily for almost a century, but in the decades following the village’s incorporation in 1903, supplies of the high-grade marble eventually dwindled. The quarries closed, and some argue, business has never been the same.
As was the case with Native Americans, during the decades of the 18th century, the Lenape were push out of their homeland by expanding European colonies. They were forced farther west due to the American Revolutionary War and United States’ independence. In the 1860s, the United States government sent most Lenape to the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma and surrounding territory) under the Indian Removal Policy (yes, there was such a thing). Most Lenape now reside in Oklahoma, with some other communities in Wisconsin and Ontario.
Democrats have a voter registration advantage in Tuckahoe, reflective of the shift of the region, yet Republicans held a 3-2 majority on the board of trustees and largely viewed the village as a stronghold. Years ago when she moved to Tuckahoe, Andino found she absolutely loved the village and made it her permanent home. Mayor-elect Andino has served as a village trustee since 2018. She was motivated to run the first time when she realized the board was comprised of all Caucasian men. After village elections last year, Democrats and Republicans went to court and Andino won re-election, ultimately extending her lead to 17 votes. A reminder that every single vote counts!
The unofficial results of last Tuesday’s election have Mayor-elect Andino winning with 55% of the vote, with 999 votes, 169 more votes than her Republican and Conservative opponent Gina Lee. Both of the Mayor-elect’s running mates were also victorious last Tuesday, incumbent Renee Howell and Darryl Taylor won with 27% and 28% of the vote, respectfully. The board will go from 3-2 Republican to 3-1 Democratic with Andino’s trustee seat vacant for the time being.
Andino also serves as CEO at The Institutes of Applied Human Dynamics, Inc. and is responsible for the operations of the not-for-profit supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; including residential and day services.
On her Facebook page Honorable Omayra Andino graciously posted, “I know that we are all motivated by our love for this Village, and my commitment to serve every resident of Tuckahoe is stronger than ever. Let us allow cooler heads to prevail so that we can get to work together. It is my mission to guide us through the end of this pandemic into a brighter future. Thank you, Tuckahoe!”
She was also quoted in The Journal News, Andino said, “We made the invisible, visible” and “It’s really a win for representation, it’s a win for diversity.”
The online etymology dictionary indicates the name Lenape literally means “original person” and this writer is confident the Lenape would be proud to have their former lands represented by someone so worthy and so promising.