Two challengers to the Yorktown Republican-endorsed candidates are circulating petitions together and are generating talk that they plan on running as a ticket.
Local lawyer Michael Grace and Winery at St. George owner Tom DeChiaro are gathering signatures to force a primary for both the Yorktown supervisor and town council races respectively. Grace is seeking to challenge incumbent Supervisor Susan Siegel, while DeChiaro is seeking to compete against incumbent Councilman Nick Bianco as well as restaurant owner Dave Paganelli in an at large contest for one of the two council member slots on the ballot. United Taxpayers of Yorktown President Ed Ciffone has said he is gathering signatures to primary to appear on the ballot for town council as well.
“We have like-minded ideas,” said DeChiaro about teaming up with Grace. “We had a conversation about principles and what is wrong with the town—its corruption and its bad reputation, and realized we shared a lot of the same views.”
“I feel very good about having somebody on the ballot that sees the need for transformation and big thinking that I see,” DeChiaro said referring to Grace. “I am encouraged.”
While DeChiaro would not confirm that the two were planning to campaign as running mates, he did admit that he was open to the idea. “It is not something I am against. We decided to send out joint petitions because it made sense. Our ideas are very similar to one another.”
Candidates were allowed to start gathering signatures on June 7. Since then DeChiaro stated that he has already received more than 500 signatures. “The petitions are not due until July 14 so we are going to try for over 1,000 names, just really make a statement,” he said.
Grace, who was unavailable for comment, is a partner in the litigation firm of Grace & Grace located at 360 Underhill Ave., Yorktown Heights. He was legal counsel to the town over a 16-year period in various capacities. For a period of time he was the sole legal counsel to the town and remained its litigation counsel for all 16 years of service to the town.
“The Town of Yorktown has become moribund, primarily because of the unfortunate long term dysfunction of the town board and probably more importantly because of the town’s antiquated regulatory infrastructure which has proven to be unresponsive to the town’s present and future needs,” said Grace when he announced his candidacy.
DeChiaro is currently an adjunct professor at The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., where he teaches a graduate/PHD level course titled, “Engineering & Computer Science Management”, at the School of Engineer and Computer Science.
He is also the founder, chairman and CEO of the Winery at St. George in Mohegan Lake. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, DeChiaro was senior vice president at a global defense firm and was an executive relationship manager at IBM.
Former supervisor Don Peters is running for the supervisor seat on the Democratic ticket. Incumbent Councilman Jim Martorano and Yorktown Athletic Club President Rich Campanaro are running as Democrats for the town council seats.