The Northern Westchester Examiner

Yorktown Chamber Breaks Tradition Endorsing Candidates

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The Yorktown Chamber of Commerce opted to break a 20-year tradition last week by endorsing candidates in the upcoming town election.

Last month, the majority of the Board of Directors voted to change a policy giving the chamber the option of getting involved in the political process, a decision that led to the resignation of several members.

“Yorktown stands at an important crossroads, and it was time for the chamber to take a stand in support of the business community and our membership,” said Chamber of Commerce President Joseph Visconti. “Representing over 370 members, the Board of Directors felt compelled to support candidates who will best advance the chamber’s interests.”

As expected, the chamber endorsed Supervisor Michael Grace for reelection to a second term. It also backed Councilman Terrence Murphy and his Republican running mate Dorothy Forcina, along with Democratic highway superintendent candidate Tom Diana.

“The candidates we have endorsed have the qualities to lead our town in the years ahead,” the chamber stated. “They understand the role and responsibility of the business community in providing goods and services. They possess the necessary vision and leadership to plan for future revenue streams which will provide tax relief for homeowners and make Yorktown a better place to live, work and do business…And finally, and most importantly for the chamber, they are pro-business.”

Murphy, who has declared himself the “pro-business candidate” and is seeking a second four-year term, said he works closely with the chamber and was happy to receive its blessing.

“I take it with great admiration and pride,” he said. “As a business owner of two local businesses I know what it’s like to make payroll. I really feel for business owners.”

Diana, who noted he was not interviewed by the chamber, said he was surprised to be endorsed but was happy the Board of Directors feel he has the managerial and hands-on experience to replace exiting 18-year incumbent Eric DiBartolo.

His opponent, Councilman Dave Paganelli, who resigned from the chamber’s Board of Directors following the policy change vote, remarked, “I was not in favor of the Chamber Board’s decision to change the by-laws to include endorsing candidates, which I believe should have gone to the membership for a vote. When the motion passed to change the by-laws I, among others, resigned from the Chamber Board.  I know I am a strong personality and I stand up for what I believe is right.  I was confident that should the Chamber decide to endorse, my decision would certainly affect my ability to receive the endorsement, which I would have declined anyway, since it would have been hypocritical of me to partake in the process.”

Councilman Nick Bianco, who is challenging Grace and is the board liaison to the chamber, said it was “unfortunate “ the chamber chose to endorse candidates. During one of two nearly identical debates moderated by the chamber last week at Yorkown Stage, Bianco maintained the chamber’s decision to get involved with politics “taints them,” and noted, “I feel perhaps there’s a little chilling by some of the officers.”

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