Neither incumbent Paul Feiner nor newcomer Tasha Young received enough votes to garner an endorsement from the Greenburgh Democratic Committee last week when district leaders met virtually to choose who to back in the primary on June 22.
Though neither candidate for supervisor met the 50%-plus one threshold required by the party to receive an endorsement, Young won a slim plurality of the weighted vote at 41.51% to Feiner’s 40.99%.
In addition, 17.5% abstained.
Each of Greenburgh’s 81 election districts have two district leaders. Of the 162 total, 134 district leaders cast endorsement votes but 28 leaders were not present during the virtual convention on Feb. 18. Each election district is assigned a weight based on the number of Democrats who voted on Row A in the 2018 gubernatorial election year.
In Edgemont, Young received 91.3% of the weighted vote, Feiner received 0% and 8.6% abstained. Ten of the 12 leaders were present for the vote.
In Hartsdale, 43.3% of the weighted vote went to Feiner, 21% went to Young and 35.5% abstained. Twenty-seven of the 32 leaders were present for the vote.
Both candidates for town council, incumbent Francis Sheehan and newcomer Ellen Hendrickx, received endorsements from the party, receiving more than 98% of the weighted votes.
Candidates receive certain perks for being endorsed, including the preparation and facilitation of candidates’ petitions, as well as help in gathering signatures.
Although no endorsement was made, the committee will still distribute the designating petitions to district leaders.
“Assuming both candidates give us their petitions, we’ll distribute them to the district leaders and then the district leaders will choose who to carry [a petition] for because the committee did not pick one [candidate] or the other,” said Suzanne Berger, the former chair of the Greenburgh Democratic Committee who now serves as the chairwoman of the Westchester County Democratic Committee.
District leaders voted to endorse former Greenburgh Town Councilman Steve Bass as the new chair of the party.
Bass said the decision to distribute petitions of unendorsed candidates to district leaders was “a one time exception” due to the pandemic and would not be used as a precedent moving forward.
This isn’t the first time Feiner has lost his party’s endorsement. In contested elections with Democratic challengers in 2005, 2007 and 2013, Feiner lost the party’s endorsement but still went on to win the primary.
Although Young received less than 1% more in weighted votes than Feiner, in a press release Young considered her small margin a cause for celebration and said that Greenburgh was “experiencing a momentous political shift.”
“My biggest hurdle was that [district leaders] don’t know me,” Young told the Inquirer, comparing herself to previous Democratic challengers for supervisor who were well known within Greenburgh’s political circles. “That’s why it’s momentous. Because even though everyone on the committee knows [Feiner] they did not know me.”
Feiner said the results of the convention were “the best result he’s had in 20 years.”
“From my standpoint I’m sort of happy with the way things are going,” he said. “The fact that it was a close convention highlights to voters the fact that … you can’t take this race for granted. I think that I should get elected, but there are people who may disagree, and if people think the race will be potentially closer, then it will be easier to get the vote out.”
Feiner was also endorsed by the Working Families Party, which opens up another path for the 30-year incumbent going into the Nov. 2 general election if he doesn’t win the Democratic primary.
“It was not an easy decision … we found both candidates qualified,” said David Schwartz, vice chair of the Working Families Party for Westchester and Putnam counties. “In the end we made the decision … based upon the candidate who had the greater experience and who had been a supporter of ours for many, many years.”