In an off-year election with little drama or surprises in Westchester County, history was made in Mount Vernon when Shawyn Patterson-Howard was elected the first female mayor of the city by trouncing acting Mayor Andre Wallace by an 81% majority. She also became the first black woman elected mayor in the county.
With 100% of the ballots counted, the Westchester County Board of elections reported that Patterson-Howard, a Democrat, had won by a 6,740-vote margin after receiving 8,566 votes.
Rosemarie Jarosz, who heads the Conservative Party in the city, received 244 votes.
In her victory speech, Patterson-Howard implored residents to become a force in turning the long-dysfunctional city around.
“We need the collective strength, energy, passion, skills and resources of every person in this room and everyone who’s watching to come together and work to push Mount Vernon forward together,” she said. “This has been a people’s movement from day one and it’ll be a people’s movement as we go forward.”
Patterson-Howard is not the first female mayor of Mount Vernon, that designation goes to Carmella Iaboni. In 1984, Iaboni had been president of the city council. In October of that year, Mayor Thomas Sharpe died after suffering a stroke. Being the next person in the line of succession, Iaboni became mayor until Ronald Blackwood won a special election and took over the post.
Wallace became acting mayor after former Mayor Richard Thomas pleaded guilty in July to misdemeanor charges of third-degree attempted grand larceny and second-degree offering a false instrument for filing. Thomas admitted that he took $13,000 from his campaign committee, the Friends of Richard Thomas, during his 2015 mayoral candidacy and put it to personal use.
He was sentenced to pay a $13,000 fine in addition to a one-year conditional discharge during which time he cannot seek or accept any elected or appointed public office or seek or accept any position as a public servant.
Patterson-Howard was appointed by Thomas in March 2016 to serve as commissioner of Planning and Community Development and executive director of the Mount Vernon Urban Renewal Agency. She served until December 2016. She defeated Thomas in this year’s Democratic primary.
Patterson-Howard is the president and CEO of the YMCA of Yonkers.
In the other mayoral races in Westchester:
- New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson won a resounding victory over challenger Brendan Conroy. Bramson, a Democrat, received 8,478 votes to Conroy’s 4,896.
- Peekskill Mayor Andre Rainey scored a win in his re-election bid by receiving 2,875 votes to challenger Vincent Vesce’s 2,027.
- Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano won his third term by beating Republican Mario De Giorgio by a near 3 to 1 majority, 18,371 to 6,249.