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December 8, 2019
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Politics

Shawyn Patterson-Howard, a Democrat, became the first woman ever elected mayor in Mount Vernon. She's shown here before her June primary election victory.
In September 2014, Harrison Mayor Ron Belmont, a Republican, greeted then-President Barack Obama, a Democrat, on the tarmac at Westchester County Airport. Belmont's local popularity outdistanced the so-called PresidentTrump factor.
Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner speaking at the December 2015 memorial service for former Westchester County Executive Al DelBello. Feiner, a Democrat, remains one of the longest-serving town supervisors after his re-election on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Mount Pleasant is one of a few towns in Westchester with a Republican supervisor and majority of the town board seats. Republicans regained full control of the town board on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Trumped Again: Republicans Trounced In Local Westchester Elections

The so-called Donald Trump factor toppled local Republican candidates for a third straight general election in Westchester.

Especially at the top of the ticket, Democrats defeated Republicans although incumbents from both political parties defeated most challengers. Also notably, the Democratic Party appears to have added a 14th and 15th seat to its supermajority on the 17-member Westchester County Board of Legislators.

Shortly after midnight, longtime Harrison Mayor Ronald Belmont regained the lead over Democratic insurgent Frank Gordon after a dramatic evening tracking votes. Five years ago, Belmont, a popular Republican, appeared on the Westchester County Airport tarmac to greet then-President Barack Obama, a Democrat, on a local visit.  On Tuesday, an anti-President Trump effect played a near-spoiler role in Harrison and other towns long dominated by Republicans. Belmont's popularity and strong name recognition helped secure his top seat. Unofficially, Belmont led Gordon by about 440 votes. In a very close four-way contest for two Harrison town/village council seats, Democrat Lauren Leader and incumbent Republican Fred Sciliano led Republican Carlo Riccobono and Democrat Michael Romita. But the spread in the four-way race was just 164 votes.

Meanwhile, Patricia O'Callaghan, a Democratic challenger, was trailing incumbent Harrison Justice Pasquale Gizzo, a Republican, by just 123 votes overnight.

Republicans managed to pull off some other victories countywide. In another hotly-contested town election, Republican Matt Slater was leading first-term Yorktown Supervisor Ilan Gilbert, a Democrat, by more than 600 votes, with all votes counted. Incumbent Republicans easily retained two town board seats: Tom Diana and Edward Lachterman were re-elected. Diana overcame this social media firestorm fueled by Democrats.

Eastchester and Mount Pleasant town governments also remain solidly Republican. (More details below.)

Despite a highly-visible challenge from Greenburgh Party candidate Lucas Cioffi of Edgemont, Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner stomped his independent opponent to remain one of the longest-serving town supervisors in Westchester County. Feiner, a Democrat, was first elected in 1992. With a strong townwide turnout, Feiner led Cioffi by 10,974 to 5,190 votes, according to unofficial Board of Elections returns. That's 42 percent more votes than Feiner's last challenger earned in 2007. Cioffi sent a townwide email on Wednesday afternoon that read, in part, "Congratulations to Paul Feiner. . . . He has done the hard work to earn his large number of supporters over a career of public service to our community, and he has earned two more years at the helm. I look forward to seeing what changes he makes at the town level. . . ."

Democrats also dominated elections in Westchester’s largest cities. One closely-watched city election was in Mount Vernon, where Democrat Shawyn Patterson-Howard enjoyed a landslide victory in a three-way race for mayor, according to unofficial vote returns from the county Board of Elections. She'll be sworn in as the first woman mayor in Mount Vernon.

In the Mount Vernon race for city council, Democrats were running well-ahead of Republicans in a four-way contest for two seats. The unofficial leaders were incumbent Lisa Copeland and Derrick Thompson.

In New Rochelle, Democratic Mayor Noam Bramson led Republican challenger Brendan Conroy, according to unofficial vote returns. Also, Democrats were leading Republicans in races for two City Council seats.

In Yonkers, Democratic Mayor Mike Spano led Republican challenger Mario De Giorgio, according to early vote returns. For Yonkers City Council, incumbent Shanae Williams, a Democrat, trounced independent challenger Terence Miller.

In White Plains, Democratic candidates for City Council also led the way, according to early unofficial vote tallies. With all of the votes counted, Democrats Nadine Hunt-Robinson, Jennifer Puja and Victoria Presser were the unofficial winners of a seven-candidate race for three council seats.

In Eastchester, Republican Supervisor Anthony Colavita held a slight lead over Democratic challenger Michael Denning.

In the village of Mamaroneck, Democratic Mayor Thomas Murphy led Norman Rosenblum, a former mayor who ran as a Conservative/Independent candidate, by a nearly 2-to-1 vote margin. And in the race for Mamaroneck village trustee, incumbent Democrat Nora Lucas led Conservative/Independent candidate Stefanie Lividini. In a race for an unexpired term on the Village of Mamaroneck Board of Trustees, Democrat Kelly Wenstrup easily defeated Nancy Wasserman of The Friendly Village Party by 2,411 to 776 votes, unofficially.

In Peekskill, Democratic Mayor Andre Rainey held a healthy lead over Republican challenger Vincent Vesce to win his second term. In a six-way race for three Peekskill City Council seats, all three Democratic incumbents led their Republican Party challengers: Patricia Riley, Vivian Mckenzie and Kathleen Talbot.

In a three-way race for two seats on the Bedford Council, Democratic challengers Ellen Calves and Bobbi Bittker were leading Republican incumbent Don Scott.

In another Democratic upset, Cortlandt Town Justice Daniel McCarthy, a Republican and 12-year incumbent, was defeated by Maritza Fugaro-Norton. Fugaro-Norton has lived in Cortlandt for 14 years and worked as a court attorney in the Westchester County Family Court for 12 years,

New Castle Democrats are guaranteed a majority on the Town Board starting in January by sweeping their three Republican challengers on Tuesday. Democratic Councilwoman Ivy Pool led Republican Jim Smith in the town supervisor race, by 3,111 to 1,525 unofficial votes. In a four-way race for two town council seats, the leaders were Democratic incumbent Jeremy Saland and fellow Democrat Jason Lichtenthal.

In Lewisboro, incumbent Democrats John Pappalardo and Daniel Welsh led in a three-way race for two town council seats.

In Pelham, Democrats Kristen Burke and Maura Curtin were apparent winners over Republican incumbent Blake Bell and Republican challenger Michelle Marcellino in a four-way race for two town council seats.

Pound Ridge Supervisor Kevin Hansan, a Democrat, was re-elected. Two Pound Ridge Democrats won town council seats in a four-way race.

Come January, Republicans will hold the least seats in recent memory -- just two -- in the 17-member county Board of Elections.That should ensure that much of first-term County Executive George Latimer's agenda gets passed. Here are the victors of the contested races for county legislature: Colin Smith, a Democrat, over Frank Catalina; Vedat Gashi, a Democrat, over former Yorktown Supervisor Michael Grace; Damon Maher, an incumbent Democrat, over Christopher Garitee; Kitley Covill, an incumbent Democrat over Gina Arena; and Catherine Borgia, a Democrat, over Robert Outhouse. Last but not least, Democrat Ruth Walter led in an apparent upset over Republican Legislator Gordon Burrows.

Robert Prisco and Melissa Loehr, both Democrats, were elected as Westchester County Court judges.

In Ossining, three controversial propositions that would have converted elective jobs to appointed posts were defeated by voters, according to early returns. Ossining voters said they want to continue to elect their Town Clerk, Receiver of Taxes and Highway Superintendent. 

In Mount Pleasant, voters soundly defeated a proposition to convert the town's elected highway superintendent job to an appointed post, by 1,366 to 789 unofficial votes. Mount Pleasant Superintendent of Highways Richard B. Benkwitt was unopposed in his re-election bid.

Mount Pleasant Supervisor Carl Fugenzi was unopposed, winning a third term on Tuesday. Also in Mount Pleasant, two Republicans were leading a close four-way town council race, meaning the GOP will regain full control of the town board. Incumbent Democrat Francesca Hagadus-McHale sought re-election but was trailing in votes. Also defeated was Democrat Laura Divenere against two Republicans: Jerome S. Schulman Jr., and Danielle Zaino. Mount Pleasant Town Justice Robert Ponzini, also a Republican, defeated Democratic challenger Elizabeth Smith.

Finally, Mount Kisco voters approved a $14.25 million addition/renovation to a town firehouse. Details about that town proposition can be found by clicking here.