Democrats Take 13-4 Majority on Westchester Legislature

April 25, 2018

by Mark Lungariello,

District 11 in the Westchester County Board of Elections includes parts of New Rochelle and Pelham.

Democrat Terry Clements beat Republican Jim Freeman in Tuesday's special election for Westchester County legislature, giving Democrats a dominant 13-4 majority.

Clements, a New Rochelle educator, declared victory over Freeman, a city attorney, with votes still being counted. With 100 percent of voting districts now counted, Clements defeated Freeman 2,889-2,421, according to the county Board of Elections.

The legislator-elect said there was a new energy among Democrats and progressives in the county. The seat had long been held by a Republican for more than two decades.

“People are coming out and working hard, they’re working for their values and that’s the reason why you see this,” she told The Journal News/lohud at Molly Spillane's in Mamaroneck.

The seat represents the county's District 11, which includes Pelham and parts of New Rochelle.

Democrats will take an imposing 13-4 majority on the county Board of Legislators, increasing the 9-8 majority they held at the end of 2017.

Freeman didn’t concede defeat Tuesday night but said running for the seat was an honor. The margin was much closer than the other local special election, for state Senate, which saw Democrat Shelley Mayer win big over Republican Julie Killian.

”We don’t know where we’re going to end up, but we know it’s going to be darn close,” he said.

Freeman attributed the tighter margin to the “100 percent positive” campaign in which the candidates didn’t engage in mudslinging. Freeman had also distanced himself from President Donald Trump early in the campaign and he did not fend off criticisms tying him to the president’s policies.

Trump netted only 31 percent of the vote in Westchester in 2016. Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1 countywide.

Anti-Trump sentiment was credited with fueling a progressive movement in the county that led to a blue wave in the 2017 elections. Last year, Democrat George Latimer unseated Republican incumbent Rob Astorino in the race for Westchester County executive.

Republicans lost three county legislature seats in last year’s elections, as well as a number of races in local municipalities. Tuesday’s special election was viewed by some as a bellwether for which way the wind is blowing heading into 2018’s federal midterm elections.

When Latimer became county executive in January, he reached across the aisle to appoint former Legislator Jim Maisano as director of the county’s Department of Consumer Protection. Maisano, a Republican, had held the seat for 21 years.

Lawmakers serve two-year terms at a base salary of $49,200. All 17 legislature seats will be up for election in 2019.