New Rochelle Mayor Yadira Ramos-Herbert on the City’s Future

New Rochelle Mayor Yadira Ramos-Herbert discusses her historic win, what she loves about Westchester, and her hopes for the city she now leads.

New Rochelle’s first new mayor in nearly two decades and the first woman of color in the city’s mayoral history, Yadira Ramos-Herbert made waves simply by being elected. She is also part of a larger movement, as women of color have been named mayor in Mount Vernon and Peekskill as well. Sworn in on January 1, Ramos-Herbert holds a deep admiration for New Rochelle, and sees a bright future for the city she now helms.

Ramos-Herbert cut her teeth as a member of the New Rochelle City Council, prior to which she served on the Task Force on Reducing Violence in the Lives of Children and Youth, the Lincoln Avenue Task Force, and was a member of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative Planning Committee and the New Rochelle Public Library.

Yet it was her time as a city council-member that truly prepared Ramos-Herbert for her current station. “It was almost like a baptism by fire,” she says. “I was sworn in January 2020, and March 2020 was COVID, which New Rochelle was the epicenter of for five days. I represent a district that has public housing and folks that were already struggling to make ends meet. So, it was trying to figure out right away how my neighbors were going to be able to get food and learning how to make things happen via government.”

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Even more challenges were on the way. “Three months later, we had a police killing of a Black man just a week after George Floyd, and that led to the mayor asking me to chair our police-reform plan,” she says. “Getting things done while also learning how to fly the plane was really just thrown in my lap those first six or seven months.”

Such experiences will likely pay off in Ramos-Herbert’s new office as mayor, where she plans to put her constituents first. “I’m the first new mayor in 17 or 18 years. We have new people on council; our city manager is in her second year in the role. So now that there’s been a little bit of a shift in the leadership, we want to know what’s going on right now. What are some of the issues that maybe we haven’t heard? What are some of the goals and concerns that people have? So, I am toying around with different methods of community engagement, such as types of listening tours or meetings with stakeholders.”

At the same time, Ramos-Herbert plans to focus on other large-scale issues. “Simultaneous to listening, the city is proactively tackling flooding and the impacts of climate change. We are bringing in voices to hear new concerns but also making sure we’re keeping some of the core functions moving, and not stopping projects that are important,” she says.

Yet her political duties are not the only reason Ramos-Herbert loves New Rochelle. “I have a 13-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son, and like most parents, our weekends are spent taking them around to different activities,” she says. “She dances and plays the violin, he plays hockey and is on his school basketball team, and so there’s always a practice or a game or a match or a performance.” When they aren’t running between extracurriculars, Ramos-Herbert and her family — her husband, Jeffrey, is a general counsel for Apple Bank — love to ride bikes. “Together, I think our kids are really seeing the ability for parents to pursue their dreams,” she says of Jeffrey and herself.

“We love to get snacks, and El Trigal [Bakery] makes some delicious flan. I also love coffee, and luckily New Rochelle has its fair share of coffee shops. Some of my favorites are CAFETERO and Casaroma, and Harpoon Hanna’s makes a delicious coffee and ricotta toast with honey and raspberry preserves.”

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Photo by Stefan Radtke

The new mayor and her family also frequent plenty of local restaurants. “We’re foodies, so we eat out a lot,” she says, pointing to SuggarPlums, Alvin & Friends, Colombian House, Sakana Japanese Cuisine, Roc N Ramen, Cherry Lawn Farm, Gemelli Pizza, and Posto 22. As for her leisure time, Ramos-Herbert enjoys running in New Rochelle’s Historic District and on Pelham Road.

“So now that there’s been a little bit of a shift in the leadership, we want to know what’s going on right now. What are some of the issues that maybe we haven’t heard? What are some of the goals and concerns that people have?”

With so much passion for her city, its no surprise Ramos-Herbert sees an incredibly bright future for New Rochelle and its people. “We’re in a really healthy space financially,” says Ramos-Herbert, “so how do we then make sure, given that we have that luxury, that there is full representation, enduring equity and access, and that we remedy any planning issues in the past that were not done in the best way so that all residents feel like they are part of the city? I think that’s my goal as mayor: that when [residents] see me, it’s not that we necessarily agreed on everything, but that they see someone who worked hard, who really listened, who championed for the ability to balance those things, and who championed to make sure that everyone felt like a part of this city.”

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