Many Moving Parts in Beacon Council Election

Incumbent knocked off ballot; Democrat to run as Republican

By Jeff Simms

The Beacon Republican Committee has issued its endorsements for the upcoming City Council elections, while objections knocked three Democratic candidates off the ballot — although they can appeal or gather enough signatures to be included as independents.

All six seats on the council are contested every two years; current members Peggy Ross (Ward 1) and Pam Wetherbee (Ward 3) are not running for re-election.

The Republican-endorsed candidates are Wayne Theiss (Ward 1), a volunteer firefighter who owns an HVAC business; Andrew Gauzza III (Ward 3), a Manhattan College student; Chris Bopp (Ward 4), an accountant, real estate agent and former City Council member; and Amando Downer, a business consultant who is running for an at-large seat.

In Ward 2, the Republican-endorsed candidate is Democratic incumbent Omar Harper, who was endorsed by the GOP in 2015, as well. With the exception of Harper and Bopp, the Republican candidates are running for office for the first time.

Meanwhile, the Democratic nominating petitions of Harper and fellow incumbent Ali Muhammad, along with newcomer Darrell Williams, were thrown out after a review by the Dutchess County Board of Election’s two commissioners (one Democrat, one Republican).

Muhammad, who represents Ward 4 but was running for an at-large seat, was about a dozen signatures short of the 220 required. He appealed the decision to the Dutchess County Supreme Court, which scheduled a hearing for 10 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 4, before Judge Maria Rosa.

The Board of Elections did not respond to questions about what disqualified the signatures. Objections were filed by Charles Kelly, a former longtime council member and former head of the Beacon Democratic Committee, and Lee Kyriacou, a Democrat who is running to keep his at-large seat on the council.

Kelly and Kyriacou also objected to Harper’s Democratic petition, forcing the Ward 2 incumbent — who defeated Kelly in the 2015 election — off the ballot as a Democrat. Harper filed 58 valid signatures, five short of the 63 required. (One sheet of signatures was tossed because the witness does not live in Beacon.) Harper’s petition to run on the Republican line in Ward 2, which required 14 signatures, was also challenged by Kelly but ruled valid.

Had his Democratic petition not been scrapped, Harper would have been challenged by John Rembert in a primary. Instead, he will face Rembert as a Republican in the Nov. 7 general election.

Williams, the third of four candidates running on the “Stand with Ali” slate, was ruled ineligible because he is not a registered Democrat and also had only 25 valid signatures of the 63 required. The objection to Williams’ petition was filed by Mary Gault, the corresponding secretary of the Beacon Democratic Committee.

Muhammad and Williams have both said they intend to collect signatures to appear as independents on the November ballot. Independent candidates have until Aug. 22 to file nominating petitions with at least 42 or 48 signatures, depending on the ward.

The nominating petition of the fourth member of the Stand with Ali slate, Ward 1 candidate Paul Yeaple, running on the Green Party line, was accepted. Based on the number of registered Green Party members in the ward, he needed just two valid signatures.

The Beacon Democratic Committee has endorsed newcomers for the four ward seats and incumbents Kyriacou and George Mansfield for the two at-large posts. Its candidates are Terry Nelson (Ward 1), founder and director of the Beacon Independent Film Festival; Rembert (Ward 2), a minister at Star of Bethlehem Baptist Church; Jodi McCredo (Ward 3), a small-business owner who helped found Advocates for Beacon Schools; and Amber Grant (Ward 4), a volunteer with Planned Parenthood of the Mid-Hudson Valley and a board member of the Beacon Dog Park.

Kelly Ellenwood, the president of BeaconArts who announced in June that she would seek an at-large council seat on the Working Families line, did not file a nominating petition.

In Dutchess County legislative races, Gault challenged petitions filed by Ved Shravah, a Democrat from Fishkill who is running for the District 16 seat, but was overruled. As a result, the Democratic Committee’s candidate, Frits Zernike, will face a primary on Sept. 12. Three challenges by the Democrats to petitions filed by Independence Party incumbents John Forman (District 16) and Jerry Landisi (District 18) were also overruled.

Seeking Council

Ward 1
Terry Nelson (D)
Wayne Theiss (R)
Paul Yeaple (Green)

Ward 2
Omar Harper (R)
John Rembert (D)

Ward 3
Andrew Gauzza III (R)
Jodi McCredo (D)

Ward 4
Chris Bopp (R)
Amber Grant (D)

At-Large (Two Seats)
Amando Downer (R)
Lee Kyriacou (D)
George Mansfield (D)

One thought on “Many Moving Parts in Beacon Council Election

  1. We can only wish that Democrats in both Albany and Washington were as dedicated to following the letter of the law as they are in Beacon.