John G. Testa, a life-long resident of Peekskill, began his first term on the Westchester County Legislature in January 2010. Prior to his successful run for the District1 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 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.
John received a BS degree in Technology from SUNY Oswego, where his academic achievements gained him induction into Epsilon Pi Tau, the International Honorary Fraternity of Technology. He earned his MS degree in Technology from the City College of New York. He began his teaching career in 1980 at Peekskill High School, his alma mater, as an instructor in Technology and Social Studies.
Testa developed a series of communication courses at Peekskill High School that have become a popular sequence of instruction for students who wish to gain experience in publishing, graphic design and television production. He is also a NYS Certified Instructor of Social Studies and has taught various classes offered through the Social Studies Department at PHS. In addition to his teaching duties, Testa has committed his energy to several extracurricular activities. He has coached for Peekskill Lapolla Little League, PHS Varsity Golf, and PHS Boys Junior Varsity Soccer teams. He is also a co-founder and past coach of the PHS Girls Junior Varsity Soccer program.
Testa has dedicated many years of service to the Peekskill community. He has served on the Peekskill’s Conservation and Parks Advisory Board, the Peekskill Zoning Board, and is a Trustee for Westchester Community College, assisting in expanding the satellite campus in Peekskill. Other civic responsibilities include The Lincoln Society in Peekskill, where he is a Past-President. He has also served on the Peekskill Local Development Corporation, and the Peekskill Industrial Development Agency. Testa is a member of the Peekskill Fire Patrol, the Christopher Columbus Society, where his Great-Grandfather was a founding member, and The Peekskill Elks Lodge 744. He is also a founding member of the Hollowbrook Water Watch, a citizen group dedication to the protection of the Peekskill Hollowbrook Watershed, Peekskill’s water supply.
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 30 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. He also secured the preservation 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 Peekskill. 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 and now a regional performance center, 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.
Testa was elected to the Peekskill Common Council in 1997, and was sworn in as Peekskill’s 20th mayor in 2002, serving 3 terms. In 2003 he was inducted into the Peekskill High School Hall of Honor. John was elected as Westchester County Legislator for Disrtict #1 in 2009 and reelected to that position in 2011. John and his wife of 26 years, Nancy (employed by the Peekskill Field Library), live in Peekskill and have two children, John, Jr. and Katy.