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Dems For A Stronger Mount Vernon Booted From Ballot

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The Democrats For A  Stronger Mount Vernon, a slate of four candidates running for the three available Mount Vernon City Council seats and the office of Comptroller have been booted from the ballot after a judge invalidated their nominating petitions.

The candidates — Adriane Saunders, Robin Harmon-Myers and Paul Herrick for Mount Vernon City Council and Walidah Aime for Comptroller — were expected to give the slate nominated by Democratic Party leaders, a run for their money.

Democrats For A Stronger Mount Vernon after their People Before Politics Radio interview [Black Westchester]
On Tuesday, after a week-long trial, state Supreme Court Justice William Giacomo ruled that there were multiple instances of candidates and others writing in details on the petitions that should have been completed by those who had actually witnessed the petitions being signed. He particularly cited Saunders, newly elected President of the Mount Vernon Board of Education, for claiming to have witnessed signatures on July 4th, when she was in the Dominican Republic.

“It’s unfortunate that errors were made and that the questionable means of [Mount Vernon & Westchester Democratic Chairman/ Westchester Democratic Board of Elections Chairman] Reggie Lafayette and our legal system destroyed the chances of replacing and electing people to our City Council who have the best interests of Mount Vernon at hand,” Karen Sacacchi, a Fleetwood resident who supported the slate shared with BW. “Adriane Saunders was definitely at fault as was Greg however there appeared to be enough legitimate petition signatures that the Judge could have saved the ticket eliminated Adriane and replaced her with another candidate. I’m hoping Paul and Robin run on an Independent ticket…”

Many others share her sentiment, expressing their disappointment for Robin Harmon-Myers and Paul Herrick also being booted off the ballot because they were on the same slate. Some even calling for a write-in campaign for the two aforementioned Council candidates that were running against the machine.

Despite the feelings of some voters, and the opinion of others, the ruled against the entire slate as a whole.

“The totality of the credible evidence presented clearly demonstrates that fraud and irregularity so permeated the designating petition as a whole as to call for its invalidation,” the judge wrote in his ruling, granting the petition by the establishment nominees — incumbent Councilman Marcus Griffith, Janice Duarte, Clyde Isley and Comptroller Maureen Walker.

The winners of the September Democratic primary will join Republican Steven “Butch” Thomas, older brother of Mayor Richard W. Thomas, on the ballot in the general election in November. While highly improbable, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a write-in campaign for Harmon-Myers and Herrick from a group of residents that felt their best chance for much-needed change in the city was robbed from them on a technicality.

“Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski won her seat as a write-in candidate in 2010,” Jane another supporter to the slate booted from the ballad shares. “We’re undergoing a sea change in US politics. Many things are now possible.”

Maureen Walker who was elected Comptroller of the City of Mount Vernon, New York in 1993 and has been ever since will be challenged in the primary by former City Councilwoman Deborah Reynolds, who ran in the Mount Vernon Mayoral race of 2015.

As always stay tuned to Black Westchester for more on this developing story as detail become available.

AJ Woodson

AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show. AJ is a Father, Brother, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Hip-Hop Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale,,, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.

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1 comment

Paul Herrick August 19, 2017 at 6:26 PM

After a three day trial and 16 witnesses, I imagine it was difficult for Judge Giacomo to throw out 3,174 voter signatures. He certainly knew that real people with a genuine desire for change in Mount Vernon were now going to be denied a ballot choice. Unfortunately, mistakes were made in handling SOME of the 331 pages of signatures. The mishandling of several sheets was admitted at trial. In short, building on that admission, Comptroller Maureen Walker’s attorney effectively presented a narrative questioning approximately 15% of the Ballot Petition pages using a hand-writing expert who scrutinized every initialed change and alteration on those pages. The Judge concluded it tainted the entire Ballot Petition and an opportunity was lost.

The Ballot Petition process is exacting and arcane – deliberately so. In fact, the process is much more difficult that it needs to be, and just like voter registration and voting, it should be a lot easier to get on the ballot. We have the constitutional right to Petition our government, but both parties are chipping away at it, citing voter fraud – yes both parties. (Google this week’s Milagros Lecuona case in White Plains). For that right to be meaningful, We The People must be afforded more opportunity and an easier process to challenge our elected officials, so that they can be compelled to explain their decisions to the public NYS Election Law is all too often used as a sword to limit voter choice. We have a long road to travel in Mount Vernon. I wish you a peaceful journey and thank those who supported me.


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