On election night, veteran Poughkeepsie City Councilwoman Yvonne Flowers became the first black woman mayor of the 32,000-person city, even though a third of the population is Black. Flowers turned back a challenge from schoolteacher and former Poughkeepsie cop Anthony LaRocca Jr. Flowers defeated Republican LaRocca in all eight city wards with 3,195 votes to 1,474.
Flowers stated after winning every ward, “People are ready for a change—they’re ready for this city to be united.” In front of supporters and council members, the enthusiastic mayor-elect said she was ready to begin. Flowers said she would relax on Wednesday, then work with the council on the 2024 proposed budget, her transition team, and the city administrator search.
Flowers is a lifelong resident of Poughkeepsie who has spent four terms representing the fifth ward. The daughter of the late John Flowers, a celebrated community organizer and carpenter in the city, Flowers touts a long history of community outreach and credits her family with inspiring her to get into politics. Flowers’ brother, Frank, says he couldn’t be prouder.
“I want to make sure that people don’t expect miracles because Yvonne is a human being. But what I want to really see from this is everyone learning from this experience and everyone playing their part,” he adds. “Everyone has to play their part. If everyone plays their part and puts a little bit in, we’re gonna get a great outcome.”
Flowers, first beat incumbent Mayor Marc Nelson in June’s Democratic Primary, who became mayor and city administrator in January after Rob Rolison was elected to the state senate last year.
Flowers received Nelson’s endorsement and the backing of other city lawmakers, many of whom attended the Democrat’s watch party at Refinery 51. In her victory speech, Flowers described a tiring and contentious campaign, but she urged her supporters to put the race behind them.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us. We already see the challenges that are in our city, and now it’s time to pull together and make that happen,” said Flowers. “You look in this room, and you see a diverse group of people in here. And it is time that we start getting rid of that divide in our city.”
Flowers is on the emergency housing facility stakeholders group created by the county legislature to provide input into the shelter process. She has also challenged the county’s decision to locate the shelter in her ward for the past two years. Flowers has advocated for better training and equipment for the city’s police force and to revitalize the Main Street Corridor.
The 170-year-old city of Poughkeepsie is home to the largest population of Black and minority residents in Dutchess County. Poughkeepsie will also have a few new faces on the council in January. Da’Ron Wilson ran unopposed for the councilman-at-large position and will assume the role of chairman when he takes office.