June 8, 2023
Op Eds & Letters To The Editor

Open Letter to Westchester Black Democrats

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August 24, 2015

Dear Members of Black Dems of Westchester,

As a fellow member of the Westchester Black Democrats and challenger to Mr. Jenkins, I received an email from the Chairman’s email to membership on August 19th, appealing for help on behalf of Mr. Jenkins. Mr. Jenkins’s attached email suggests my primary challenge “may be the direct result of political maneuvering by the County Executive . . .” I can assure you my desire to enter the political arena does not involve the County Executive, nor his “allies”, whom Mr. Jenkins claims are my benefactors.

If the Westchester Black Democrats were aware of the pressing social issues in Yonkers, they would agree that I am indeed the better candidate to represent the best interests of people of the district. In his empty and continued political grandstanding to obtain the County Executive seat, Mr. Jenkins is passing legislation that fails our communities: Mr. Jenkins’ recent opposition to Family Court Judge Kathie Davidson’s request to co-locate Yonkers Family Court and Yonkers Department of Social Services, Mr. Jenkins’ 2011 vote allowing sewage from New Castle to be diverted into Yonkers causing noxious odors in the Ludlow community, lack of funding of Yonkers youth services as a result of his inability to reasonably negotiate with is colleagues on the Board of Legislators, his inertia in the re-opening of Sprain Pool, his long-standing absence in the communities he serves, his poor deal-making on the Playland management deal, his blatant conflict of interest as a sitting legislator and president of the Yonkers Industrial Development Association, and his non-committal vote on affordable housing today.

This September 10th primary will be the FIRST AND ONLY challenge Mr. Jenkins has faced since the February 2007 Special Election for the 16th District County Legislator seat, when he was challenged by a Republican candidate, in a district that is overwhelmingly Democratic. Subsequently, there was a General Election in 2007 and no challenger. Mr. Jenkins ran for office again in 2009, 2011 and 2013 – all with no primary, nor general election challengers. No candidate should have the luxury of denying constituents a choice and running unopposed.

The email from Mr. Jenkins to Black Dems membership further stated, “After all, our electoral system is at the heart of our democracy”. Based on the above, his statement is most disingenuous. It would appear Mr. Jenkins would prefer an electoral system wherein there is no challenger, as has been the case in almost eight years. After all, I am not setting a precedent as a Black female primarying a Black elected male. In 1994, Former Yonkers Legislator Minority Whip Herman Keith was primaried by now NYS Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

I worked very hard to secure a place on the ballot on September 10th despite efforts by Yonkers Ward leaders to knock me off the ballot. On July 9th, I submitted 1,670 signatures to the Board of Elections with ninety percent of those voter signatures self-witnessed. My young daughter often walked with me, knocking on doors late into the evening, designed my website, designed my flyers, sent out all my email correspondences, organized my walk lists and has learned much about the democratic process in a truly grassroots campaign.

I knew when I entered this race I would facing an uphill battle. Many have told me that they wished they could help, but they are afraid to go against the system.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond and share my reasons for entering the political arena. I now ask you to help me in this endeavor. If you can contribute a modest donation ($25.00 or $50.00) to my campaign, or volunteer to knock on doors with me as I continue with my campaign throughout the 16th district over the next three weeks, it would be greatly appreciated. You can donate and volunteer on my website www.nicoleforyonkers.com or call my campaign phone (914)486-2330 to contact me.


Nicole Benjamin
Primary Candidate
Westchester County Legislator
16th Legislative District

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