June 10, 2023
BW - Mount Vernon

Mt. Vernon Weekly Wrap-Up: Thomas Off Ballot, Ethics Chair Arrested For Unethical Behavior & More

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Mount Vernon – So there has been a lot of moving parts in the upcoming election in Mount Vernon this past week or so. We decided to do a quick wrap up to get you caught up just in case you missed anything. There were two major stories everyone is talking about.

First the latest news; it appears former mayor Richard W. Thomas will not be on the ballot for Comptroller in the Tuesday, June 22 Democratic Primary. Lohud reports;

Former Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas’ bid to get on the Democratic primary ballot for city comptroller took a blow Thursday when a judge dismissed his challenge to the Westchester Board of Elections’ rejection of his nominating petitions.

Although two days of hearings were held this week, state Supreme Court Justice Mary Smith ultimately ruled that Thomas’ petition to overturn the board’s decision to keep him from the ballot was not specific enough. She granted the motion to dismiss of Max Di Fabio, the lawyer for the two Democrats who had challenged Thomas’ petitions.

“Petitioner was afforded every opportunity under the law to plead and prove his case, he could not do it, and the judge appropriately dismissed the matter,” Di Fabio said. “We are pleased with the result, and we wish former Mayor Thomas the best of luck in his future endeavors.” Click here to read more.

“In justice, there is injustice. What happened in Court to our campaign for Comptroller was an injustice,” Thomas wrote in a statement on his campaign page.

Following the news, Thomas spoke to dozens of loyal supporters who believe in his vision of a diverse and beautiful Mount Vernon, “It is our opinion that the Judge’s comment about “not caring about Mount Vernon” validates former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson’s finding of institutional racism throughout New York’s Court System.”

Thomas submitted 1.002 signatures, far more than the 300 he needed. But two district leaders, John Carlo Bautista and Norina Clowney, challenged 744 and 791 of the signatures, respectively. The challenges alleged a variety of violations, from signers not being registered Democrats as required to illegible signatures. The board’s decision left Thomas 52 short on Bautista’s objection and 61 short on Clowney’s.

Thomas served on the City Council from 2012-2016 and as mayor from January 2016 until he was forced from office in July 2019 after pleading guilty to misusing campaign funds. The other three candidates in the race to succeed Deborah Reynolds as comptroller were not challenged and will appear on the primary ballot. They are: the Rev. Darren Morton, who is Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard’s chief of staff and the Mount Vernon City Democratic Committee endorsed candidate; City Council President Marcus A. Griffith; and Derickson K. Lawrence, who headed the city’s charter revision commission. 

I’m sure this will not be the end of the saga, or the last we will here from Thomas on the matter. At the end of his statement he tells his supporters, “If you want us to keep fighting the good fight, we will.” Stay tuned to Black Westchester for more on this developing story!

Then there was the unethically behavior of Mount Vernon Board of Ethics Chairman, Gregory Cannata

So, Gregory Cannata, managing partner of Gregory J. Cannata & Associates, LLP and chair of the Mount Vernon Board of Ethics, got arrested for allegedly threatening a sitting Council member. This unethical behavior comes for Cannata who cited his service on the city’s board of ethics in an introduction video with Nicole Lucio.

“We need good people in government to enforce the laws,” he said. That was then, now, the Chair of the Ethics Board lawyer is charged with unethically breaking laws.

“People talk about dirty politics, but this was more than that,” Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah told CBS2’s Tony Aiello. Rocah charged Cannata with attempted coercion for allegedly demanding the campaign of rival Janice Duarte drop a challenge to his ballot petitions.

Cannata was arraigned Tuesday on two misdemeanor charges of third-degree attempted coercion after he was accused of threatening Duarte because of her brother’s objections to his nominating petitions to appear on the ballot for city council. He pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges.

What Mr. Cannata did not know is that Councilwoman Duarte – who spoke to District Attorney Rocah about feeling unsafe – recorded the entire conversation.

“I just want you to know that there are consequences,” Cannata allegedly said. “If you want a taste of what I’m gonna give you… I am going to be ruthless with you. I will be sending out weekly emails blasting you every chance I get.”

“She had to cease that legal right to file those objections or her career, her business, her economic status would be destroyed,” Rocah said.

Last week, the Board of Elections upheld the challenge to Cannata’s petitions and discarding him off the Democratic primary ballot. Black Westchester has been informed by from City Hall insiders that it is likely Cannata will be quickly removed from his post on the board of ethics. Stay tuned to Black Westchester for more on this developing story.

Mount Vernon Forward candidates hold kick off rally in front of City Hall

On Saturday, April 17th the three candidates running for City Council on the Mount Vernon Forward 2021 ticket – Cathlin Gleason-Boncardo, Edward Poteat and Danielle Browne, had their official campaign kickoff rally in front of City Hall!! During the event various residents and supporters each took turns speaking on behalf of the candidates, explaining why they are supporting them, including Cynthia Turnquest-Jones, Priscilla Echi, Malcolm Clark, Business Owner, and Community Leader Yelitza Furchi and others.

Others City Council candidates who were booted off the ballot included MVPL Library Trustee Hope Kimberly Marable, Marc Lenci and Kim K. Harper who were on the same petition. According to April 15, 2021 letter from the Board of Elections, out of the six hundred and twenty-nine signatures (629) turned in, three hundred and fifty-five (355) were thrown out, leaving two hundred and seventy-four (274) valid signatures left, just short of the three hundred (300) signatures required to appear on the ballot in the June 22nd Democratic Primary.

As the race in Mount Vernon has already shown signs or being very heated even before anyone made the ballot, with various robocalls, and attacks on social media. Stay tuned to Black Westchester to the always developing story that is Mount Vernon Politics.

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