Mayor Patterson-Howard could make history in Mount Vernon if she beats Wallace in primary

The winner of Tuesday's primary election is likely to determine the winner of November's general election in a city where Democrats significantly outnumber Republicans.

Jonathan Gordon

Jun 22, 2023, 8:26 PM

Updated 301 days ago

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Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard could become the first mayor of Mount Vernon to be elected to a consecutive term in 20 years.
"I have results of getting things done," said Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard.
The winner of Tuesday's primary election is likely to determine the winner of November's general election in a city where Democrats significantly outnumber Republicans.
Patterson-Howard made history four years ago by becoming the first woman elected mayor of the city. 
If she's going to make history again, she'll have to get past a familiar face: former Mayor Andre Wallace.
Wallace served as interim mayor of the city after a court ruled in his favor in August 2019 when then-Mayor Richard Thomas pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds.
Wallace lost to Patterson-Howard, Thomas and former Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Clyde Isley in the June Democratic primary election that year and lost again to Patterson-Howard when he ran on the Republican line for reelection that November.
Wallace said he has unfinished businesses from his short time in office.
"If I can do that in four months, imagine what I can do in four years," said Democratic candidate and former Mount Vernon Mayor Andre Wallace.
Mount Vernon faces plenty of challenges, not unlike any other major city in America.
Public safety, housing and affordability are three issues both candidates are campaigning on.
The city was shaken earlier this year after three homicides claimed the lives of three teens in early 2023.
Eight months earlier, Mount Vernon cheer captain Kayla Green, 16, was fatally stabbed after a citywide celebration of the high school men's basketball team winning a state championship.
In response, Patterson-Howard unveiled a three-pronged public safety program, brought back citizen peacekeepers and launched a block watch program. As the president of the African American Mayors Association, she has sought a collaborative approach to taking illegal guns off the streets.
"This is not just a policing issue. It is a combination of working with the federal government to stop the flow of guns into our community," said Patterson-Howard. Wallace is taking a different approach and believes the city's crime problem is a policing issue. He has promised to hire 40 new police officers, increase their pay and install more street cameras as a deterrent and investigative measure.
"We are short police officers and they're leaving here faster than we can bring them in," said Wallace. The city has seen plenty of development over the last few years, including completing Memorial Field, bridge repairs and improvements to its aging sewage and water systems.
Patterson-Howard secured $163 million in grants from the state to help address flooding and pipe issues.
"This is not that's going to take a year or two. This is work that's going to take 10 to 20 years, but we are working," said Patterson-Howard. If reelected, Wallace says paving roadways, addressing the underground pipes and knocking down zombie homes will be top priorities.
"People are a product of their environment. If we don't lift that environment, we can't lift the people," said Wallace. Patterson-Howard also wants to continue expanding economic development, rebuilding the city's fund balance and fighting for a hospital.
Wallace says he will focus on improving opportunities for the middle class, lowering property taxes and increasing youth and senior programs.
Thomas is also making another bid to return to office after being elected in 2015 before being forced to resign as part of his plea deal before his first term was up. 
He's waging a write-in campaign to regain his old job after the county Board of Elections invalidated some of his petition signatures - keeping his name from officially being on the ballot.


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