Independent Party to back Spano's challenger

The Independent Party announced Thursday it will support Republican Rob Astorino in the upcoming race for the post of Westchester County executive.

In the election four years ago, the independents backed the three-term incumbent Democrat Andy Spano. This time, Spano did not seek the third-party line because the party leader, Dr. Guilio Cavallo, is aligned with Sam Zherka, a controversial newspaper publisher and strip club owner.

In April, Zherka organized an anti-tax tea party in White Plains aimed at eliminating county government. Zherka had also sought the help of Spano's son David, who appeared in commercials criticizing his father's administration.

Astorino, however, downplays the connection between his independent supporters and Zherka.

"This is a movement not by one person," he says. "This is something I personally have been talking about for five years now."

Astorino is backing a measure to allow local taxpayers to vote to get rid of redundant levels of government.

"It's empowering people on a local level to self-determination of what is needed and what is not," he says.

Deputy County Executive Susan Tolchin says Spano also supports eliminating government overlap.

"We worked with the attorney general's office on this legislation," she says.

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