Verni to fight Parker, party for Independence line


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

Rye City Councilwoman and candidate for county legislator Catherine Parker, a Democrat, finds herself in primary challenges on two fronts.

Although Parker’s focus has been on securing the Democratic nomination to run for the District 7 seat in the general election, her Independence Party endorsement is also being threatened by county legislator candidate John Verni, a Republican.

Parker is currently facing a primary for the Democratic line from Mamaroneck’s Tom Murphy, a former village trustee, on Sept. 10.

That same day, the primary for the Independence line will also be decided.

All three candidates are embroiled in a race to take the seat of District 7 county Legislator Judy Myers, a Larchmont Democrat who decided not to run again this year after nine years in office.

The county’s seventh legislative district includes Mamaroneck, Larchmont, Rye City and parts of Harrison and New Rochelle.

Since she was endorsed by the county Independence Party in June, Parker will appear on the Independence line ballot come September.

However, Verni collected enough signatures by the July 11 deadline to trigger a primary with Parker for the line. However, since he was not endorsed by the party, voters will have to write-in Verni’s name on the ballot.

Verni, a real estate developer and land use attorney from New Rochelle, collected 150 signatures for his “opportunity to ballot” petition.

“We got more than enough signatures to wage a write-in campaign,” Verni said. “I have a few friends in the Independence Party who encouraged me to go for that line.”

The Republican candidate, however, will also be facing pressures from within the party looking to thwart his run for the line.

According to Verni, the Independence Party chairman Dr. Guilio Cavallo, has been pushing to oust members of the party who have switched their Republican registration through what Verni sees as a “bullying” tactic from the party’s leadership.election_circle1

Verni and other Republican candidates have been caught in the middle of an ongoing feud between Cavallo, who has chosen to endorse mostly Democratic candidates in county races, and County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican, over fallout from his 2009 election victory.

Regardless, of the outcome of the primary, Verni will still be on the ballot in the general election. And while Verni won’t know who his Democratic opponent is until the Sept. 10 primary, the Republican contender has been making an effort to get out and meet with voters.

“Over the course of the last few weeks, we have had volunteers and activists out knocking on doors and taking our message to the public,” he said. Verni has also made several appearances at local concerts and parades.

As for Parker, she has spent the summer since announcing her run, traveling throughout the legislative district.

“Every night that I was out gathering signatures and meeting people, I heard over and over again how fed up this community is with a lack of results because of partisanship and ideology at every level of government,” said Parker, who was first elected to the City Council in 2007 and owns a business on Purchase Street. “I believe good ideas come from people, not parties, and should be judged by how they will benefit the community, and I’m pleased that the Independence Party has endorsed my candidacy for that exact reason.”

The councilwoman is in an interesting position. She could lose in the Democratic primary, but still run if she were able to hold on to the Independence line.

Although Parker would not directly comment on her decision if faced with that scenario, she did hint at it.

“I believe that once the Democratic primary is over on Sept.10, we Democrats need to come together, unified in our core beliefs, or we will certainly cede the 7th district to the Republican Party,” she said.
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