Retired North Castle Sewer and Water Superintendent Anthony Futia announced last week he plans to challenge Democratic Councilman Michael Schiliro for the party’s nomination for supervisor.
Futia, 77, a lifelong North White Plains resident, said he has decided to force a primary in September because of deep dissatisfaction with how the town Democratic Committee chose Schiliro and running mates Jose Berra and Barry Reiter to be its nominees for town board.
Futia charged that the party’s slate was selected in a “prearranged backroom deal” that saw Schiliro, who has also captured the Conservative and Independence Party endorsements, exert his influence to select two independent candidates. Instead, the committee should have considered two registered Democrats who had expressed interest in running for council, Futia said.
“I felt I could not sit by and let the Democratic Party and my town, for which I worked for 40 years, be hijacked by special interests which are more interested in politics than the people,” Futia said.
He also questioned Schiliro for stating that he had made up his mind to run for supervisor only about a week before the Democratic Committee’s endorsement announcement in late May. Futia contended that Schiliro had previously interviewed with the Conservative and Independence parties, signaling that he was planning his candidacy for months.
“I don’t believe that his interest in running is really in the best interests of the town, but really in the best interests of himself,” Futia said of Schiliro.
Futia also has disagreed with Schiliro on certain policy decisions, most notably his failure to support a controversial measure last year to require retired town employees to make contributions toward their health care plans. The town is being sued by about 20 former officials and employees who are challenging the action.
In order for Futia to appear on the ballot for the primary, a petition containing about 150 valid signatures of registered Democratic town residents must be submitted to the Westchester County Board of Elections between July 8 and 11. Should the primary materialize, the winner would face Republican incumbent Howard Arden in November.
Reached on Friday, Schiliro said he was somewhat surprised at Futia’s intention but that he welcomed his candidacy to discuss the issues. He also said he was “prepared for a vigorous primary.”
Schiliro said that Futia’s candidacy is more of a knock on the current administration than it is on him. Two years ago, Futia backed Arden.
“I have a good feeling about this because he was a Howard Arden supporter and he’s one of a number of people who supported Howard Arden who believe that there’s need for a change,” Schiliro said.
However, Schiliro disputed Futia’s contention that he had been planning to run for supervisor for an extended period of time. He said he was considering a candidacy but consulted with his family and did not make his decision until about a week before the Democrats announced their slate.
Meanwhile, the North Castle Democratic Committee’s two co-chairs refuted Futia’s claims of a backroom deal to hand the nominations to Schiliro, Berra and Reiter.
In a statement last Friday, co-chairman John Diaconis said that the committee followed “an open and transparent process” culminating in a vote by the committee that endorsed a slate of highly qualified candidates.
“Although Tony Futia participated in that voting process, he did not seek the endorsement of the committee,” Diaconis said. “Mr. Futia has now decided to run for supervisor. He’s apparently unhappy with the performance of Howard Arden and thinks he would be a better supervisor than Mr. Arden.”
Barry Malvin, the Democrats’ other co-chairman, said it was announced to all committee members that Berra and Reiter were independents. In fact, he said Futia voted for both town board nominees.
Futia responded that when he voted for the two council nominees, he had no idea they weren’t Democrats. He added that there were other committee members who were also surprised to learn of that revelation.
If Futia makes it onto the ballot this would be the third time he would be running for the seat. In 1987, he ran as a third party candidate. Then he challenged former supervisor Reese Berman in the Democratic primary in 2005. He also collected signatures in 1999 in hopes of challenging the late Jack Lombardi but never submitted the petition.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/