MOUNT VERNON, NY — April 21, 2019 — The worst of Mount Vernon was on full display at last week’s Board of Estimate and Contract public meeting held at City Hall. The board, which consists of the city’s Mayor, City Council President and Comptroller, is primarily responsible for review and approval of city contracts as well as the annual estimate (budget).
However, over the last few years it has become an arena where political axes are ground and personal attacks launched. This was on clear display at the above-mentioned meeting that began an hour late due to posturing over who sets the agenda and a petty power game to determine who would keep the others waiting and be the last member to enter the room.
When the meeting finally began, the Comptroller was a no-show, unsurprising to those who regularly view these meetings. And before the main event between Mayor Thomas and Council President Wallace even began, an embarrassing half-hour personal exchange erupted between the City Clerk and First Assistant Corporation Counsel, taking priority over items of the people’s business on the meeting agenda.
If that display wasn’t sad enough, watching Thomas and Wallace trade insults in a sorry game of who could publicly embarrass the other more was telling. Perhaps most disconcerting was watching them bring their ongoing public battle of insults to this meeting and at one point going back and forth about “You’re being sued by your business partners” and “Well, you’re indicted.”
To call them childish would be to insult our city’s fourth graders.
Sadly, this behavior has become the rule rather than the exception in City Hall. Elected officials who should exhibit leadership, instead represent Mount Vernon’s citizens in the worst possible manner. It’s this disregard for civility and disdain for professionalism that’s cost the city its bond rating, diminished delivery of municipal services and captured the attention of federal and state agencies.
Fortunately, in June we have an opportunity to reject the destructive politics driven by personal agendas and I hold great hope that Mount Vernonites are ready to end the dysfunction. We’re a city full of pride and rich with talent. From our young people who strive towards a bright future to our seniors who offer a lifetime of experience and wisdom from which we must learn. From the proud native-born residents to those who recently chose to call our city home, there is good reason to be hopeful.
As I walk Mount Vernon’s streets and knock on voters’ doors, I meet many who are tired of the harmful political atmosphere that’s brought embarrassment to our hometown. They understand that our elections can no longer be popularity contests and that we must elect accomplished candidates with relevant experience.
As the Democratic party’s endorsed candidate for Mayor, I not only bring a career filled with directly relevant budget and finance, public administration and law enforcement to the table but also a respectful and collaborative approach to problem-solving that’s essential to bringing stability back to our great city. There will be no learning curve for an Isley administration and we’ll roll up our sleeves on Day One to conduct business with the best interests of our taxpayers in mind.
Mount Vernon’s future is in the hands of its voters and I know that the best of our city will overcome what’s become the worst.