Spotlight On: Catherine Borgia
Mary Prenon | April 14, 2021
An Advocate for the People
Catherine Borgia has been well-known throughout Westchester County for the past 10 years as a Westchester County Legislator serving the Ossining, Briarlcliff Manor, Croton-on-Hudson, Cortlandt and Peekskill areas.
Before that, she served as chief of staff for Assemblywoman Sandy Galef for nine years and was also the Ossining Town Supervisor for three years and Ossining Village Board member for four years.
However, what you may not know about Borgia is that for the past four years she has also been a Realtor, currently working with Keller Williams NY Realty in White Plains. “I’ve always been an advocate for people, so I guess that’s what attracted me to real estate,” she said. “It’s another way to continue serving people. I know a lot about Westchester communities and it’s exciting to be part of significant moments in people’s lives.”
Borgia has been involved in public service since 2002, when she began to intern in Assemblywoman Galef’s Ossining office. “I had known Sandy through the Ossining Food Panty and when the opportunity to volunteer in her office came up, I took it,” recalled Borgia. “I also wanted to get more involved with issues like child care and welfare reform.”
Once her two daughters were in school, Borgia’s volunteering efforts morphed into a full-time position and eventually, she became Galef’s chief of staff. “I think what makes Sandy different is that she always listens to various opinions,” explained Borgia. “She’s very fair and if new facts come out about an issue, she’s not afraid to change her mind.”
These days Borgia juggles her real estate career with her part-time role as a County Legislator. While listing and selling homes, she is also the primary sponsor of legislation that would require co-op boards to provide a reason for denial of a potential buyer’s application. This bill would amend the current Westchester County law that requires co-op boards to either approve or reject applications within 60 days.
Currently, rejections are forwarded to the Westchester County Human Rights Commission, but do not require the co-op boards to provide a reason for the rejections.
HGAR has been a constant advocate for co-op reform and played a huge part in the passage of the current law. “To date, there’s been more than 500 applicants rejected with no reasons given,” said Borgia. “This is unfair and frustrating for both the potential buyer and seller. Co-ops are usually a more affordable way for people to start out buying property, and the time has come for passage of this bill because it impacts so many people—buyers, sellers, Realtors and even bankers.”
Her biggest concern is whether fair housing rules are being violated. “I’ve also heard some strange stories about why applicants were rejected—including one about a potential buyer wearing flip-flops to the interview and being refused because the co-op board thought they would be too loud in the hallway.”
In addition to heading up the co-op bill, Borgia is also entering her fourth year of sitting on the county’s Budget Committee. Over the past year, Westchester County has added more funding for helping people to avoid evictions due to COVID-related unemployment, as well as providing for food insecurity and health issues like assisting people with COVID testing.
Meanwhile, Borgia is keeping busy with real estate clients throughout Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties. “I tend to concentrate on northern Westchester, as well as Yonkers, which I know very well from the political world,” she added. She keeps track of her “two hats” by blocking off Mondays for her county work, and spending a lot of the weekend on showings.
Borgia, who serves on HGAR’s RPAC and Legislative committees, spends much of her free time with her daughters, now 25 and 22, and is also learning to be a better gardener. “I don’t really have a green thumb, but my plan this summer is to grow all fresh herbs,” she said. “I’m also looking forward to the days when we can all start entertaining again and going out to live events.”