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.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.