Civil Rights & Community Activists & Orgs. Rally Denounce WCDA Candidate Susan Cacace’s “Voter Disenfranchisement Efforts”

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On Sunday, April 14th, voters, community activists, civil rights advocates, and organizations, including the Westchester Alliance for Police Reform, Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard, and Save Mount Vernon, stood with Westchester County District Attorney candidate William O. Wagstaff III for a “Rally for Justice” press conference (see video below) at the Westchester County Courthouse to denounce what they alleged is voter intimidation, harassment, and disenfranchisement of Black communities by Susan Cacace’s campaign for Westchester District Attorney.

Susan Cacace’s campaign for Westchester District Attorney has accused Mr. Wagstaff of fraud in his filing of nominating petitions to get on the Democratic primary ballot. The specific objections alleging that Wagstaff committed fraud were filed last week with the Westchester County Board of Elections by J. Emmett Murphy, a retired state Supreme Court judge and father of Cacace’s campaign manager.

Wagstaff’s campaign states that during the routine and legitimate petition review process, the Wagstaff campaign was notified by multiple voters of threats received by an “investigator” – including three Black women who spoke at the conference – who signed petitions in support of Wagstaff’s candidacy. 

The voters, Erica Peterson and Nakia Hiland told stories of being menaced, intimidated, and threatened by investigators hired by Cacace to question the validity of the petitions they signed.

The other allegation by Murphy is that Wagstaff does not live at the 777 North MacQuesten Parkway apartment in Mount Vernon that he lists on the nominating petitions but rather at an apartment in Elmsford. Murphy argued that the residency rules in state Election Law require candidates to either live at their claimed address during the petition collection process or intend to return there if living elsewhere temporarily.

A Wagstaff campaign spokesperson called Cacace’s attacks “preposterous and laughable.”

“William’s legal address—the address where he lives, in the community he grew up in and has lived his entire life, and where he is registered to vote, pays taxes, and has deep roots—is all his Mount Vernon address,” the spokesperson said in an email. “Cacace should spend more time making sure her own team doesn’t violate civil rights laws by intimidating voters and less time throwing attacks at the wall to see what sticks.”

Cacace’s campaign told Lohud she denied any intimidation or harassment in the “routine” process of reviewing petitions and said all candidates have to be held to the same standards.

“It is unfortunate that Mr. Wagstaff’s actions have put his campaign in jeopardy and he is now making these baseless accusations,” her campaign stated. “But when the evidence indicated that Mr. Wagstaff had likely committed fraud, it was appropriate to confirm those allegations by speaking respectfully to voters and potential witnesses.”

Read more about Wagstaff claiming that Cacace has engaged in an effort to disenfranchise Black voters, here.

The three candidates, civil rights attorney William O. Wagstaff III, former County Judge Susan Cacace, and former Westchester prosecutor from New Rochelle, Adeel Mirza are scheduled to appear at a candidate forum in Mount Vernon on Thursday, April 25th hosted by Westchester County branches of the NAACP including Mount Vernon, Peekskill, Yonkers, New Rochelle, White Plains/Greenburgh, Ossining and the Rye Port Chester branches at Macedonia Baptist Church located at 141 South 9th Avenue.

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