YORKTOWN, NY – Last week’s town board meeting highlighted just how contentious this year’s local elections in Yorktown are becoming. Officials from the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce chided Democratic candidates and their political operatives for bullying local businesses. On Wednesday, one group of candidates took a bold step forward to ensure fair campaign practices were utilized over the course of the next twenty six days. Unfortunately, bipartisanship died outside of town hall because the candidates of the Democratic Party refused to participate.
“The outrageous accusations made by these splinter groups are distracting from what the real issues are,” said Supervisor Michael Grace. “Yorktown deserves a credible campaign based on the issues which is what this pledge aims to achieve. We are happy to talk about how we are holding the line on taxes, reducing our long term debt by 30%, and making critical investments in our infrastructure at no cost to local taxpayers. Instead, our opponents and their mercenaries launch personal attacks on a daily basis. Enough.”
Already, a bipartisan panel has ruled the Yorktown First slate, which features a nucleus of career politicians and a career candidate, were guilty of misleading voters and unfair campaign practices. Now, their opponents are saying “enough is enough” by proposing a seven point pledge for a fair campaign.
The seven point pledge is geared toward providing voters with a clear and honest comparison of the candidates vying for elected office. The tenets are as follows:
- No political party, candidate or agent working on behalf of a political party or candidate will intimidate or bully local businesses or civic groups into allowing political signs to be placed on their property or theaten boycotts if signs are not removed.
- In accordance with state law, as well as a 2015 town board resolution, there will be no use of town resources for advancing any political campaign.
- All political parties and candidates will file itemized campaign finance reports as is required by the New York State Board of Elections.
- In order to give voters an opportunity to hear from the candidates vying for elected office, all candidates will participate in the debate hosted by the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce on October 25th, 2017.
- All campaign materials and advertisements shall clearly identify the candidate or candidates as well as disclose the person or political party authorizing and paying for such material.
- No meritless accusations and personal attacks shall be levied against candidates and elected officials.
- No information divulged in an executive session of the Town Board may be shared or used for any campaign purposes. All information discussed at an executive session shall be deemed privileged as dictated by the Open Meetings Laws of New York State.
Westchester County Legislator John G. Testa said, “We shouldn’t have to do this. This is the way we always run our campaign, open and honest, based on facts. We were hoping our opponents would be here to join us and let the residents of Yorktown know that we are moving together in a way that is positive for our community. It is really unfortunate they weren’t here to do so.”
Councilman Greg Bernard said, “Everyone is entitled to an opinion and speak their mind. The great thing is to have debate and challenge us on our record. We’ll have the debate on our record any day of the week because it is so strong for the people of Yorktown. It is the innuendos and false claims against individuals that must stop. I look forward to the debate hosted by the Chamber of Commerce on the 25th where the residents will see and hear firsthand the difference in vision between us and our opponents.”
Yorktown Highway Superintendent Dave Paganelli said “I have always said there isn’t a Republican or Democratic way to fix a pothole. I believe that holds true for campaigns. There is no Republican or Democratic way to run a fair and transparent campaign. I wholeheartedly sign this pledge and applaud my running mates for doing the same.”
Rob Puff, candidate for Town Council added, “As a first time candidate I am seeing how hard it really is to run a campaign. That difficulty grows exponentially when we are dealing with subsidiaries and campaign groups who don’t want to follow the basic rules of a fair campaign. I am disappointed our opponents aren’t here to sign this bipartisan pledge but I will remain focused on the issues facing our town and keep moving Yorktown forward.”
In a bizarre twist, Democrats and their splinter group Yorktown Together have released competing pledges of their own which only publicly display their internal disarray and inability to agree on fair campaign tactics.