Author Archives: Christian Falcone

About Christian Falcone

Christian Falcone is the editor-in-chief for the Hometown Media Group chain of weekly newspapers covering cities, towns and villages throughout Westchester County. He took over the seat in April 2013. Prior to that he spent more than six years as an associate editor of The Rye Sound Shore Review. Known for his investigative brand of journalism, Christian has collected numerous awards for his reporting. Most notably, he took home honors for his coverage of the 2007 floods as well as Tropical Storm Irene. Most recently, he uncovered the alleged corruption at Rye Golf Club that led to an ongoing criminal investigation by the Westchester County District Attorney’s office. Prior to joining HomeTown Media Group in February 2007, Falcone reported for the Long Island Press and Queens Courier. He is a graduate of Hofstra University. Christian can be reached at 914-653-1000 x19 or at chris@hometwn.com; follow him on Twitter @christfalcone.

Rye-City-Hall-8

Breaking News: Rye hires new city manager

By CHRISTIAN FALCONE

The Rye City Council has hired Marcus Serrano as its new city manager.

His contract was expected to be agreed to by the city’s governing body at its June 10 meeting, after press time.

Serrano currently serves as the village administrator of Dobbs Ferry, a position he has held for the past six years, according to Rye City Mayor Joe Sack, a Republican. Once Serrano’s employment contract with Rye is approved, he has a 60-day notice provision in his current contract with Dobbs Ferry that will delay his start date in Rye to approximately Aug. 11. Once Serrano takes over the city manager position, Eleanor Militana, the interim city manager, will transition back into her role as assistant city manager, the mayor said.

Rye will pay Serrano $195,000 annually to manage the city’s day-to-day operations; former City Manager Frank Culross, who retired at the end of April, was being paid $198,500 a year. As part of Serrano’s contract, Sack also said the new city manager will contribute to his healthcare as both an employee of the city and in retirement. His retirement contribution will be 25 percent.

“We’re very happy with bringing Marcus to Rye,” Sack told the Review today. “I think he will help Rye remain on the right track.”

What made Serrano stand out during the city’s interview process to find a new city manager, according to Sack, was the amount of references he provided to the City Council. Sack said Serrano offered 30 references in total. “We called them all,” the mayor said. “They were from all walks of life. Everyone said he was great.”

Sack said Serrano was born in the Bronx and has spent 30 years in Westchester working in various administrative locations including Peekskill and Ossining prior to his tenure in Dobbs Ferry. While employed in Peekskill, Serrano rose from deputy city manager to acting city manager during a 10-year run with that city.

“I think [Marcus] is an open and honest person and that’s what Rye needs right now,” Sack said.

The city manager position has plagued Rye for some time.

In April 2014, then City Manager Scott Pickup resigned from his position after accepting a separation agreement with the city. Pickup had been associated with several high profile scandals since taking over the position in 2010.

Sack said some of the candidates this time around were aware of the recent history regarding the position and subsequent controversies in Rye but none expressed concern about it impeding their ability to potentially do the job.

“Those situations were individual situations,” Sack said. “They weren’t systemic. Rye remains a prestigious community.”

Serrano currently lives in Peekskill and the belief is that he will continue to reside there. His contract with Rye does not include any provision requiring him to relocate to Rye.

CONTACT: chris@hometwn.com

 

Councilman Richard Mecca, a Republican, takes the oath of office administered by City Court Judge Bob Cypher. Photos/Jackson Chen

Councilmen Slack, Mecca sworn in

Councilman Richard Mecca, a Republican, takes the oath of office administered by City Court Judge Bob Cypher. Photos/Jackson Chen

Councilman Richard Mecca, a Republican, takes the oath of office administered by City Court Judge Bob Cypher. Photos/Jackson Chen

Councilmen Richard Slack and Richard Mecca took the oaths of office formally taking their seats on the Rye City Council for another year.

The two candidates, who ran on the Republican ticket, were sworn in before a crowd at the Jan. 14 Rye City Council meeting after winning uncontested re-elections last November.

Slack, an attorney, and Mecca, an electrical in-spector, will now remain in office through the remainder of 2015 filling out the unexpired terms of Mayor Joe Sack, a Repub-lican, and Westchester County Legislator Catherine Parker, a Democrat, who both vacated their City Council seats at the end of 2013 when each won election to their current seats.

Slack, 53, and Mecca, 59, were appointed to the City Council in January 2014. If both choose to run in November they would be seeking to secure their own full four-year terms on the City Council.

Councilman Richard Slack, a Republican, was sworn into office by City Court Judge Joe Latwin during the Jan. 14 City Council meeting. Slack, and his council colleague Richard Mecca, ran uncontested last November.

Councilman Richard Slack, a Republican, was sworn into office by City Court Judge Joe Latwin during the Jan. 14 City Council meeting. Slack, and his council colleague Richard Mecca, ran uncontested last November.

Neither councilman has announced whether he will seek a new term in office.

Members of the City Council are elected to serve four-year terms with no compensation or benefits.

-Reporting by Christian Falcone

Yandrye

Yandrasevich pleads guilty

Scott Yandrasevich, the former general manager of the Rye Golf Club, pleaded guilty in White Plains court this morning to grand larceny and falsifying records; he will now serve one year in Westchester County Jail.

Yandrasevich, 50, accepted the plea deal on Nov. 6, just days before he was set to stand trial in connection with allegations that he stole approximately $342,120 over a six year period from members of the city-run golf club. He is also required to make restitution to Rye for $271,120 of the money that he defrauded from the club and its members.

Rye Golf Club is located on Boston Post Road in Rye.

Yandrasevich, who was hired by the city to run the golf club back in 2002, resigned from his position with the club in January 2013 following an internal investigation by the city that exposed the financial scandal; he relocated to Danbury, Conn.

Rye City Mayor Joe Sack, a Republican said through the city’s investigation, they knew that Yandrasevich was guilty of stealing.

“So this is certainly vindication for us,” said Sack, who was a councilman when the golf club scandal first unfolded. “The restitution amount is welcome, but it’s only a portion of what he stole. We will continue to pursue all of our legal remedies, including recovering on our insurance claim, in order to be made whole.”

Yandrasevich was arrested after turning himself in to the Westchester County District Attorney’s office in November 2013; and was later arraigned on May 9 on an indictment of 10 felony counts of falsifying records and one felony count of grand larceny in the second degree. At his arraignment, he pleaded not guilty to all charges. Yandrasevich was facing up to 15 years in state prison, if convicted in a trial.

Yandrasevich’s guilty plea this week included just two of the 10 counts of falsifying records.
-Reporting by Christian Falcone

rye_playland_7

BREAKING: Rye petitions DEC over SPI plan

By CHRIS EBERHART
Staff Writer

The City of Rye is not backing down from its demand to be the lead agency in the environmental review of Sustainable Playland, Inc.’s renovation plan for the iconic amusement park.
The Review has learned that, on May 16, Michael Gerrard of the law firm Arnold and Porter, LLP, which is representing the city in the ongoing Playland dispute, filed a formal request to be named lead agency with the commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the DEC.
The environmental review status the city is challenging falls under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, SEQR, which would give the city, not Westchester County, final say over the project.
The amusement park sits within the city’s boundaries.
DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens has until June 6 to decide which party, the City of Rye or Westchester County, he will designate as lead agency.
Westchester, under the administration of Republican County Executive Rob Astorino, has maintained its stance it should be lead agency because it owns the property on which the amusement park sits. Astorino has adamantly backed the SPI plan to redevelop the park into a year-round destination with multiple attractions beyond the amusement park’s rides.
Rye argues city residents—especially those who live in the Ryan Park neighborhood that abuts Playland—will feel the effects of SPI’s project most, particularly those of an 82,500-square-foot field house that would be built in Playland’s parking lot, in a flood zone, just 30 yards from some homes.
Rye City Mayor Joe Sack, a Republican, spoke with the Review on Saturday morning about the latest developments.
“We think it’s pretty straightforward. Because the environmental impacts will be shouldered 100 percent on the City of Rye, we should be lead agency,” Sack said.
According to the letter submitted to Martens, the main criteria in making lead agency determinations is “whether the anticipated impacts of the action being considered are primarily of statewide, regional or local significance.”
“The Playland Improvement Plan seeks to significantly increase patronage at Rye Playland, which will attract considerably more vehicular…traffic while it would also considerably reduce the number of parking spaces. This raises concerns that spillover parking and traffic would occur on the local streets,” Gerrard wrote. “The PIP may also cause more local flooding; it may generate considerable noise–potentially at early and late hours of the day¬¬–and the lighting may spill over into the adjacent residential neighborhoods.”
Being named lead agency would subject SPI’s improvement plan to Rye’s land use boards; the planning commission and zoning board.
The field house proposal remains the biggest point of contention and areas of concern amongst some city residents and local officials.
According to the city’s letter, the field house does not comply with the city’s zoning code “as it does not fall within the list of permitted uses” and would require approval from the Rye City Council or a use variance from its Zoning Board of Appeals.
Sack contrasted Astorino’s insistence on being lead agency to the county executive’s stance on the affordable housing settlement in which Westchester is involved with the federal government.
“With the [U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] settlement, the county executive says the federal government shouldn’t be coming in and saying what the local governments should do,” Sack said, “So it’s ironic the county executive is coming into Rye and telling a local government what to do. It’s a bit of a head scratcher.”

CONTACT: christopher@hometwn.com

pickupfeature1

BREAKING: City Manager Pickup resigns

By CHRISTIAN FALCONE

Scott Pickup

Scott Pickup

As the clock struck midnight on Wednesday, time ran out for Scott Pickup.

Republican Mayor Joe Sack announced at Wednesday’s City Council meeting that the council had finalized a separation agreement with Pickup, the city’s embattled manager.

The decision was authorized by a unanimous vote of six members of the Rye City Council. Republican Councilwoman Laura Brett was not at the meeting.

The city manager’s resignation went into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23, after press time.

Sack also announced former City Manager Frank Culross had once again agreed to step in to the breach.

Culross will take over as interim city manager, an agreement that went into effect at the same time Pickup’s employment contract expired. Culross’ contract will mimic the one he had in place in 2009, the last time he served in an interim role; it paid him an annual salary of $198,000.

Pickup did not attend Wednesday’s City Council meeting, nor was he in attendance at Tuesday night’s Rye Golf Club Commission meeting, fueling speculation his job status may have been in jeopardy. Word of his possible termination began to spread throughout City Hall earlier this week. According to a source with knowledge of the situation, negotiations for Pickup’s departure between his attorney and the city had been in the works for some time.

Pickup’s resignation concludes a tenuous, near four-year stint as the city’s top administrative official. Over that time, Pickup was linked to some of the city’s biggest scandals. His legacy will likely be tied to the Rye Golf Club scandal, in which a former club manager allegedly stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the club.

Pickup signed-off on some of the fraudulent invoices.

The golf club swindle is considered the largest financial scandal in the city’s history.

Pickup’s critics speculated the nail in his coffin came last November after then Mayor Douglas French, a Republican, announced he would not seek re-election and Sack, a councilman at the time, was elected to the seat, defeating French ally and Pickup supporter, Deputy Mayor Peter Jovanovich.

Sack had been in constant battles with Pickup and the French administration dating back to late 2010.

The separation agreement allows Pickup to stay on board as a city employee until at least July 10, but no later than July 24, according to Sack. Pickup will also receive a lump sum payment of $59,000 and continue to collect on his regular salary of slightly less than $200,000 until his departure date.

By keeping Pickup on board, the mayor said it would help with the transition process, but Pickup will immediately lose his title of city manager to Culross and instead be recognized as assistant to the city manager.

This is not the first time Pickup and Culross have crossed paths.

Following the 2009 ousting of then City Manager Paul Shew, the City Council, under the administration of Democratic Mayor Steve Otis, decided Pickup, then an assistant city manager, was not prepared to run the city’s day-to-day operations and passed him over, appointing Culross to replace Shew.

Culross stayed on for roughly a year before stepping aside for Pickup, who was promoted to the position by a new City Council led by newly elected Mayor French in a deal worked out prior to French’s election in 2009.

Sack said he did not want to entertain a process similar to the one in which the city engaged in during Shew’s removal. At that time, the City Council called a special meeting on St. Patrick’s Day night and invoked the city charter, suspending the city manager for 30 days with the intent of firing him.

As per the charter, a suspension would have allowed for a public hearing if the city manager were to request one.

Sack was a councilman during Shew’s departure and was unsupportive of the decision to use the charter at the time.

“I think a lot of us saw that happen about five years ago with Mr. Shew,” Sack, who was away on business the night Shew was suspended from his managerial duties, said. “[And] I think there was a desire amongst parties to avoid that type of process again.”

Nonetheless, Sack said the time was right to make a change.

“I think we are ahead of the game,” the mayor said. “I think now is the appropriate time for Mr. Pickup and the city to part ways.”

Pickup was first hired by the city in 2005 as an assistant city manager. He grew up in the Midwest and graduated from the University of Cincinnati. Prior to arriving in Rye, Pickup spent four years as a municipal manager in Germantown, Ohio.

CONTACT: chris@hometwn.com 

County Legislator-elect Catherine Parker will join the Westchester Board of Legislators in January, ending a six-year run as Rye City councilwoman, though the issue of Playland is sure to follow her to White Plains. File photo

After win, Parker turns focus to county issues

By CHRISTIAN FALCONE

Call her county legislator-elect.

After two weeks of anticipation, Catherine Parker was declared victorious in her race for Westchester’s District 7 legislative seat. The final confirmation came on Nov. 19, after Westchester County Board of Election officials pored through hundreds of absentee and affidavit ballots.

County Legislator-elect Catherine Parker will join the Westchester Board of Legislators in January, ending a six-year run as Rye City councilwoman, though the issue of Playland is sure to follow her to White Plains. File photo

County Legislator-elect Catherine Parker will join the Westchester Board of Legislators in January, ending a six-year run as Rye City councilwoman, though the issue of Playland is sure to follow her to White Plains. File photo

The results weren’t enough for Republican John Verni to close a near 400-vote gap as Westchester Republicans had hoped. In fact, Parker’s margin of victory increased by 21 votes after the final tallies.

The delay left little time for the Rye City councilwoman to celebrate; she met with County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican, just days later.

Parker said her meeting with Astorino was an effort to try and forge relationships on both sides of the political aisle. Parker, still technically a registered independent, will officially become a Democrat at the outset of 2014.

“I really believe that the county needs to do a better job of bringing everybody together and not being obstructionist and not being ideological,” she said. “I intend very much to work with all my colleagues. I believe that’s how we get things done.”

Parker will face a tough task trying to steer away from partisan influences dictating her decision-making.

The collegiality in White Plains has evaporated in recent times after the relationship between the Republican administration and Democrat-controlled Board of Legislators soured o-nce the county executive was inaugurated in 2010.

The political infighting has reached critical mass at times; board chairman Ken Jenkins, a Yonkers Democrat, has sued the administration over differences with Astorino.

One such lawsuit pertained to Astorino’s asset management agreement with the non-profit Sustainable Playland, Inc. to manage and operate the historic amusement park, which is Westchester County owned.

The status of the park will likely come to a head in early January. And it’s an issue with which Legislator-elect Parker is all too familiar.

There has been a recent grassroots uprising in Rye over the revelation of a 95,000-square-foot fieldhouse proposed for Playland’s main parking lot. There remains some uncertainty as to when the scope and size of the project grew to its current proposal from an initial 70,000-square-foot design concept.

Members of the Rye City Council, including Parker, have faced criticism over claims of unrelenting support for the Sustainable Playland proposal, which grew out of Rye, but Parker said she is eager to tackle the Playland issue and bring her insight to the county level.

“I think I’m in a very unique position coming to White Plains as an elected official from the City of Rye,” she said. “I know one of the things Rye needs is assurance that it will be included in discussions going forward related to what happens with Playland, and some assurance there will be better communication and partnership.”

Parker will soon vacate her Rye City Council seat after six years in office. She also wanted to take a moment to reflect on that experience.

“I’ve really considered it an honor and privilege,” the councilwoman said. “It has been tremendously gratifying on many levels.”

Parker now gives Rye City a firm grip on every state and county legislative seat in the area. Parker will take office alongside state Sen. George Latimer and state Assemblyman Steve Otis, both Rye Democrats.

Parker’s victory is impressive in an election in which Democrats were unable to wrestle any additional control of county government. Parker was able to win holding only the Democratic party line on the ballot, while her opponent Verni ran on four lines.

She attributed her success to widespread support of Democrats across the Sound Shore district.

“I certainly feel that their support was what pulled me over the finish line,” she said. “Yes, I have my eyes wide open, but I’m not taking my eyes off what I believe are priorities for the district.”

She said she was able to stick to her message throughout the campaign.

“I think that, clearly, the number one issue, at least in our district, was the property tax burden,” she said. “I made it very clear from the beginning, this was certainly the issue voters cared most about. They were voting with their pocketbooks. They heard my message and responded to that.”

As for her Republican opponent, Verni, who said he would remain active in the Mamaroneck community, w-ished Parker well in her new role after a clean campaign that lacked the animosity of many others.

“We both agreed that it was a cordial race based on issues. No mud slinging,” he said. “A race that others should emulate.”

Contact: chris@hometwn.com

 
CrownePlaza1

Astorino scores decisive victory, second term

CrownePlaza1

Supporters of County Executive Rob Astorino celebrate upon learning that his opponent, Democrat Noam Bramson, conceded the county executive race. Photo/Mike Smith

By CHRISTIAN FALCONE
It turned out Rob Astorino wasn’t too extreme for Westchester after all.

Facing constant attacks from his opponent on issues that some would argue don’t belong in local politics and a two-to-one voter registration disadvantage, Republican County Executive Astorino still managed to retain his seat for a second four-year term. Astorino defeated his Democratic challenger, New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson, in surprisingly comfortable fashion.

As of press time, the county executive had captured 55 percent of the vote, 76,088 votes, to Bramson’s 45 percent, 61,805 votes, with 81 percent of districts reporting, according to unofficial tallies from the Westchester Board of Elections.

Of the 550,000 registered voters in Westchester, more than 130,000 took to the polls on Election Day.

The campaign was hard-fought and over the better part of this year. Throughout, Astorino banked on his first-term record, touting promises he made while campaigning for the seat in a 2009 climate rife with what he called over-taxation; promises he said were kept four years later.

At times the race was ugly, with both candidates on the offensive. In the end, voters seemed to feel Astorino was able to stay on message and run a campaign that was more issues-based.

Bill O’Reilly, Astorino’s campaign manager, said the county executive’s focus was not only taxes, but also the perceived overreach of the federal government in regard to the county’s 2009 affordable housing settlement with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“Voters respected Rob’s stance [on HUD],” he said.

Conversely, Bramson spent the bulk of his campaign attempting to characterize Asto­rino as a Tea Party extremist, a gun enthusiast and backwards in his thinking on women’s reproductive rights.

With the candidate’s defeat, the Bramson campaign’s decision to highlight national-level issues as the focal point in a campaign for a countywide seat is left open to analysis. Many in the local punditry likened Bramson’s county run to a congressional campaign.

According to filings with the state Board of Elections, Bramson spent hundreds of thousands of dollars with consulting firms based in Washington D.C. and the Virginia area that specialize in a broader, more national approach to platform building.

In the end, that approach does not seem to have resonated with a majority of Westchester voters, nor did it turn out the Democratic voting base, which did not show for the second consecutive county executive election.

“That campaign was run out of Washington D.C.,” Astorino said. “They were doing the national playbook; the Tea Party stuff, which didn’t work anywhere.”

Astorino said the national issues approach was also employed by Democrats in Nassau and Orange counties, as well.

“People see through that,” he said.

O’Reilly didn’t begrudge the attacks on his candidate; he felt it was the only approach the Bramson campaign could take.

“I don’t blame their strategists for trying that,” he said. “It was a sound strategy. I don’t question the judgment, but, to the credit of the voters, it didn’t work.”

Astorino was also able to fight off what once was considered to be a crippling blow to his campaign, the loss of the Independence Party line. Historically, Republicans in Westchester have had difficulty winning countywide offices without carrying the Indepen­dence Party, the county’s third-largest. Prior to Astorino’s victory on Tuesday, no Republican county executive had ever won the seat without support from the Independence Party.

Preliminary tallies showed Bramson, even with the controversial endorsement of the party, only received about1,200 Independence votes. In 2009, Astorino captured more than 10 times that number.

O’Reilly said there was no other way to explain the drop in numbers from that voting bloc other than Westchester voters doing their homework.

“That party has to decide what it wants to be,” he said regarding Independence Party leadership. “I think that line may have become radioactive.”

Astorino, stationed at the Crowne Plaza in White Plains, celebrated amongst hundreds of cheering supporters as the results began to shift in the Republican’s favor quickly on Tuesday night.

With his re-election now behind him and little time to bask in his victory, the county executive will quickly shift his focus to the county’s 2014 budget with his political stock at an all-time high.

O’Reilly also credited Astorino with his ability to gain bipartisan support. In one of the team’s final internal polls, O’Reilly said, Astorino won roughly 61 percent of the Latino vote and 30 percent of the Democratic vote.

“Just extraordinary,” O’Reilly said. “There is a lot of crossover.”

Astorino also did well in predominately Democratic districts like Scarsdale and Greenburgh, according to O’Reilly.

I knew we weren’t going to win in 2005,” Astorino said. “In 2009, the day before the election, I just knew I was going to win. This was sort of the same thing.”

In defeat, Bramson addressed a crowd of supporters at the Westchester Hilton Tuesday night as the results began to swing in Astorino’s favor.

“Running against a well-liked and well-financed incumbent is always a tough challenge. The fact that we came as close as we did is a tribute to the extraordinary effort and dedication of so many people here,” Bramson said. “The regret I feel tonight is not for myself…My regret is that I wasn’t able to bring home the victory that each of you deserved.”

Now, Bramson is left to ponder his own political future.

He will go back to governing New Rochelle for another two years before his term as mayor expires. Bramson is in his third-term as mayor and has served on the New Rochelle City Council since the age of 25. But the loss to Astorino was Bramson’s second defeat in a bid for higher office—he ran unsuccessfully for state Assembly more than a decade ago. Long a rumored successor to U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, a Democrat, Bramson was removed from her district when congressional lines were redrawn last year.
Contact: chris@hometwn.com

Neuringer-Clark

Mamaroneck Republicans’ mailer distorts Review article

The Mamaroneck Village Republican Committee has circulated a campaign mailer supporting incumbents Mayor Norman Rosenblum and Trustee Louis Santoro that superimposes and juxtaposes campaign text in such a way as to suggest it originated in the story “Neuringer violated ethics code” in the Oct. 25 edition of The Mamaroneck Review.

The opinions and conclusions presented in the mailer regarding Democratic mayoral candidate Clark Neuringer are those of the Mamaroneck Village Republican Committee, not The Mamaroneck Review’s and do not appear in the story referenced.

The Mamaroneck Review disavows any and all association with the content and context of this campaign mailer.

Christian Falcone
Editor-in-Chief
The Mamaroneck Review

John Verni

Verni gains momentum with primary win

New Rochelle’s John Verni will be the Republican challenger in the race for Judy Myers’ District 7 seat on the county Board of Legislators. Photo/Bobby Begun

John Verni

By Christian Falcone
Now that John Verni’s Indepen­dence primary victory is certified and official, the Republican candidate turns a confident eye toward November.

Verni, a New Rochelle native in the midst of moving to Mamaroneck, has defeated his Democratic opponent in the race for the District 7 county legislator seat, Rye City Councilwoman Catherine Parker, for the right to carry the Independence Party line in the general election in November.

“I’m happy to have the line and have a broad base of support,” Verni said.

Verni said winning the Independence line—the county’s third largest political party—gives him added confidence heading into the heart of the campaign, as he will now appear on the ballot as the candidate of three parties.

Verni, a real estate developer and attorney, was also endorsed by the county Conservative Party and will appear on that line on the ballot, as well.

Parker,-Catherine-1

Catherine Parker

“I think it’s important because, in this district, it has been hard for Republicans to win without the Independence line,” he said.

Republicans face a registration disadvantage of more than 100,000 voters in Westchester County, so the ability to carry the Independence line in the general election is considered crucial for GOP candidates.

Meanwhile, the news also proves to be another hurdle to overcome for Parker who, after being anointed as County Legislator Judy Myers’ successor back in May, has faced several obstacles in her run.

Over the summer, Parker received the endorsement from county Independence Party leaders, but Verni petitioned for it and mounted a successful write-in challenge triggering the Sept. 10 primary.

Although he was able to access a primary election for the Independence line, Verni faced an additional challenge at the polls as his supporters had to write his name in on the ballot. Parker, as the officially endorsed candidate, was the only name printed on the ballot.

According to final tallies by the Westchester County Board of Elections, Councilwoman Parker amassed 34 votes, while Verni was able to garner 61 votes.

Verni’s Independence win could prove a springboard for him. Conversely, Parker was focused on her tightly-contested Democratic primary against Mamaroneck’s Tom Murphy.

Parker concentrated her energies on outlasting Murphy’s candidacy to secure the Dem-ocratic nomination instead of focusing her efforts on the third-party Independence line. She beat Murphy by approximately 100 votes.

“While disappointed that not enough focus was given to getting out the vote for the Independence primary to ensure that I held the line,” Parker said, “I, nevertheless believe I will win in November.”

Meanwhile, Verni is optimistic following the primary win.

“Certainly, the distraction of the Democratic primary has helped my campaign,” he said. “But I can’t really worry about the Democratic campaign. I’m worried about my own [campaign] and I think I’m very well positioned for the
general election.”

Westchester’s seventh legislative district includes the entire Town of Mamaroneck and Rye City as well as portions of New Rochelle and Harrison. Myers has held the seat, which is considered a Democratic stronghold, since 2005, and the seat has been in Democratic hands dating back to 1992 when state Sen. George Latimer, a Rye Democrat, was in county office.
Contact: chris@hometwn.com

John Verni

Verni campaign gains momentum with primary win

New Rochelle’s John Verni will be the Republican challenger in the race for Judy Myers’ District 7 seat on the county Board of Legislators. Photo/Bobby Begun

John Verni

By Christian Falcone
Now that John Verni’s Indepen­dence primary victory is certified and official, the Republican candidate turns a confident eye toward November.

Verni, a New Rochelle native in the midst of moving to Mamaroneck, has defeated his Democratic opponent in the race for the District 7 county legislator seat, Rye City Councilwoman Catherine Parker, for the right to carry the Independence Party line in the general election in November.

“I’m happy to have the line and have a broad base of support,” Verni said.

Verni said winning the Independence line—the county’s third largest political party—gives him added confidence heading into the heart of the campaign, as he will now appear on the ballot as the candidate of three parties.

Verni, a real estate developer and attorney, was also endorsed by the county Conservative Party and will appear on that line on the ballot, as well.

Parker,-Catherine-1

Catherine Parker

“I think it’s important because, in this district, it has been hard for Republicans to win without the Independence line,” he said.

Republicans face a registration disadvantage of more than 100,000 voters in Westchester County, so the ability to carry the Independence line in the general election is considered crucial for GOP candidates.

Meanwhile, the news also proves to be another hurdle to overcome for Parker who, after being anointed as County Legislator Judy Myers’ successor back in May, has faced several obstacles in her run.

Over the summer, Parker received the endorsement from county Independence Party leaders, but Verni petitioned for it and mounted a successful write-in challenge triggering the Sept. 10 primary.

Although he was able to access a primary election for the Independence line, Verni faced an additional challenge at the polls as his supporters had to write his name in on the ballot. Parker, as the officially endorsed candidate, was the only name printed on the ballot.

According to final tallies by the Westchester County Board of Elections, Councilwoman Parker amassed 34 votes, while Verni was able to garner 61 votes.

Verni’s Independence win could prove a springboard for him as, according to filings with the state Board of Elections, he has more than $22,000 in his campaign war chest. Conversely, Parker has roughly $3,200 after spending nearly $8,000 on her tightly-contested Democratic primary against Mamaroneck’s Tom Murphy.

Parker concentrated her energies on outlasting Murphy’s candidacy to secure the Dem­ocratic nomination instead of focusing her efforts on the third-party Independence line. She beat Murphy by approximately 100 votes.

“While disappointed that not enough focus was given to getting out the vote for the Independence primary to ensure that I held the line,” Parker said, “I, nevertheless believe I will win in November.”

Meanwhile, Verni is optimistic following the primary win.

“Certainly, the distraction of the Democratic primary has helped my campaign,” he said. “But I can’t really worry about the Democratic campaign. I’m worried about my own [campaign] and I think I’m very well positioned for the
general election.”

Westchester’s seventh legislative district includes the entire Town of Mamaroneck and Rye City as well as portions of New Rochelle and Harrison. Myers has held the seat, which is considered a Democratic stronghold, since 2005, and the seat has been in Democratic hands dating back to 1992 when state Sen. George Latimer, a Rye Democrat, was in county office.

Contact: chris@hometwn.com