MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – With the Sept. 10 Democratic primary rapidly approaching, Mount Vernon voters remain divided on who is the best candidate for three open city council seats.
Incumbents Yuhanna Edwards and Roberta Apuzzo, and former council member Marcus Griffith, are being challenged by newcomers Andre Bailey, Maria Caraballo, Damon Jones and Damaris Mone.
In recent years, the city has endured several scandals, and many residents are looking for a change in leadership at the top to turn things around in Mount Vernon.
“The people we have in place now are only worried about the money and how much of it they can put in their pockets,” Myra Aja said at a debate Wednesday at Wartburg. “It’s time for us to see what some new blood can do to start fixing everything.”
The newcomers include Bailey, a long-tenured state police officer and Jones, a 23-year veteran of the Westchester County Department of Corrections. Each believes their career experiences can help reduce crime in Mount Vernon.
Caraballo, a lifelong resident, hopes to install a sense of community pride in the youth of the city and Mone, who has lived in Mount Vernon for nearly a decade, believes poor long-term planning is to blame for certain failures in the city.
“The current council members have had their chance, and they failed us,” Carwall Avenue resident Virginia Kramer said at the debate. “Why not see what someone new can do?”
Although the newcomers have garnered support from residents, many are convinced the incumbent candidates and Griffith deserve more time to correct the ills of the city.
“We need to improve the quality of life problems in the city. We need to make this a safe city people want to come to,” Apuzzo said. “I’m invested in this community and deserve another four years to continue.”
Edwards, Apuzzo and Griffith stressed the importance of the five city council members acting as one cohesive unit at the debate. Resident Jim Bryant said he hasn’t been satisfied with recent actions in his local government but valued the experience of the incumbents.
“I don’t always agree with the decisions our politicians make, but I’d personally feel more comfortable with people who are familiar with government helping to run the city,” he said Wednesday. “A lot of people aren’t happy with our government; I think it can go any number of ways.”