After tumultuous summer, Mount Vernon elects 1st female mayor

MOUNT VERNON, Westchester County (WABC) -- Shawyn Patterson-Howard made history in Westchester County Tuesday, sweeping to a decisive victory in the race for Mount Vernon mayor to become the first woman elected to the position in the city.

With 81 percent of the vote, the Democrat finished far ahead of the acting mayor, Republican Andre Wallace, and Rosemarie Jarosz, a former school board member who heads the city's Conservative Party.

The race was Patterson-Howard's first run for public office, and she narrowly defeated incumbent Richard Thomas in a four-person Democratic primary.

Her four-year term begins January 1.

She hopes to bring stability to an office that has seen a tumultuous year, after Thomas pleaded guilty in July to misusing campaign funds and announced he would resign.

But in a move Thomas said was illegal, the City Council then passed a resolution to oust him immediately. They voted to strip him of his salary and proceeded to swear in Council President Andre Wallace -- Thomas' biggest political rival -- as acting mayor.

That set off a power struggle that eventually led the City Council to name Council President Lisa Copeland the new acting mayor, apparently in an effort to move forward and regain the trust of people after the bruising fight between Thomas and Wallace.

A judge later ruled in Wallace's favor, installing him as the mayor until this election.

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