Walter ready for Nolan’s challenge in Westchester’s most competitive BOL race
Can the GOP reclaim seats? Will Democrats Sweep All 17?
By Dan Murphy
All 17 seats on the Westchester County Council of Legislators are eligible for re-election on Nov. 2, but only a handful are opposed, let alone competitive. Many Westchester residents and voters may not realize that Democrats currently hold a 16-1 qualified majority on the county board.
The 17 county BOL elections can be conducted in three different ways. Democrats can retain their massive 16-1 qualified majority, or Republicans can win a seat or two, or the “blue wave” of progressive-indivisible Democratic support in Westchester will continue, and Democrats will win every county office and every county. sits on the Departmental Council in 2021.
Westchester Republicans are fielding candidates in 7 of 17 BOL seats across the county. They are:
District 1 (parts of Cortlandt, Yorktown and Peekskill). Democratic lawmaker Colin Smith is running against Republican Joe Torres. Smith is completing his first two-year term on the county board. Before Smith, Republican John Testa held the seat for more than a decade. But since Testa’s departure, the area has become more democratic, and many now see it as a solid D. But Torres is campaigning.
District 2- (Bedford, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, North Salem, Pound Ridge, part of Somers). Democratic lawmaker Kitley Covill is running against Republican Gina Arena. Covill was elected in 2017, the year of the first Democratic Blue Wave in Westchester, when George Latimer defeated Rob Astorino for the county executive by 18 points, and a backlash against then-President Donald Trump, pushed many Democrats to victory. Kovill beat Republican lawmaker Francis Corcoran by 10 points in 2017. Arena is campaigning actively.
District 3 (Mount Pleasant, North Castle and parts of Greenburgh and Ossining) Lawmaker Margaret Cunzio is the only non-Democrat on County Council. She won the 2017 election as a registered conservative and served with her fellow Democrat in a bipartisan and productive manner. David Vinjamuri is the Democratic candidate, who actively campaigns and has the support of Indivisible Westchester. It’s a race all political eyes will be on election night. If Cunzio loses it will likely be a democratic sweep across the board in Westchester.
District 4 (New Castle, parts of Somers and Yorktown). Democratic lawmaker Vedat Gashi is running against Republican Robert Brower. Gashi was elected in 2019 after the retirement of longtime lawmaker Michael Kaplowitz. Kaplowitz was a moderate Democrat who joined Republicans on County Council and then County Executive Rob Astorino to form a coalition government. That’s why some Republicans are hopeful, and some Democrats worried, about this race. Heavy Republican participation in Yorktown’s local run for city council could also have an impact on that run. It may be one to watch.
District 9 (parts of Cortlandt, Ossining and Peekskill). Democratic lawmaker Catherine Borgia is running against Republican Charles Braue. Borgia has been a member of BOL since 2012, and she has easily defeated each of her Republican opponents every two years.
District 10- (Parts of Eastchester and New Rochelle). Democratic lawmaker Damon Maher is running against Republican Anthony Giacobbe. Maher won the election in 2017, defeating Republican lawmaker Sheila Marcotte, and he was easily re-elected in 2019. Maher, one of the more outspoken and progressive members of the county council, is also well known and active in his district. This neighborhood has seemed to quickly change Democrats over the past four years, giving Giacobbe, who is also active and speaks out on the issues of the day, a steep climb to victory.
District 15 (parts of Yonkers and Bronxville). Democratic lawmaker Ruth Walter is running against Republican James Nolan. This race is identified by both sides as the most competitive in 2021. Walter narrowly beat Republican lawmaker Gordon Burrows in 2019, having narrowly lost to Burrows in 2017.
Walter, a small businesswoman from Bronxville, has worked for the past 2 years to reach her constituents in the East Yonkers part of the district. But with COVID keeping most of us at home since the spring of 2020, Walter continues to get her message across about what she’s done for residents and voters across the district.
James Nolan is from Yonkers and is making his first candidacy. His call to public service grew out of his activism after the death of his brother, Oakland A baseball star Michael Nolan, who was shot and killed in Yonkers in 2015.
James Nolan has worked on issues related to gun violence and drag racing through the Michael Nolan Foundation. He also volunteered in many community outreach programs in Yonkers during the pandemic. Most importantly, he actively campaigns in Yonkers.
Walter is up to the challenge and is proud to run on his record. “I have a record of accomplishments that I am proud to present and look forward to sharing with voters. Yonkers and my entire district have been well served over the past 18 months, ”said Walter.
The problem Nolan and all of the Republican nominees face is that County Executive George Latimer tops the table. Latimer, a popular Democrat, is running against Republican Christine Sculti for re-election, and could also help Democratic county council candidates on the ballot.
The unknown in BOL races and the 2021 election is turnout. With residents of Westchester having issues like COVID, back to school and flooding on their minds, and without a race for the governor or president to increase turnout, no one knows what the total votes will look like. More information on the Westchester 2021 elections in the coming weeks. Send your letters to [email protected]>