MOUNT VERNON, NY — April 18, 2018 — When I served on the Mount Vernon City Council, I got my first chance to see how our city’s government functioned and what I saw wasn’t pretty. I found systems that were old and outdated and a City Hall that operated as a patronage haven for many people, including rewarding those that worked “no-show” or “low-show” jobs.
When I became Mayor, I was determined to make changes and to implement a better government for the people. At every step, I was met with great resistance. I was never able to get the budget that the city and the residents deserved, such as one that provided adequate safety, health, and addressed community needs. The City Council refused to fund vital positions such as inspectors and plan reviewers as well as an Inspector General — in defiance of a court order. The position of Police Commissioner was cut. Even money for Memorial Field was taken out. The old guard wanted to slash and cut jobs and services so I would be paralyzed and the city would be paralyzed. I refused to let that happen and I have fought for every bit of progress that I could, on behalf of our city.
As I work on behalf of you, I have enlisted and hired the best talent I can to help me implement changes and give you the government you deserve. I have used outside expertise to learn how government can work better and more efficiently. Department by department has been analyzed and steps taken to modernize, despite the great resistance.
I have also learned something else about Mount Vernon city government. There are so many special interests that want the city for themselves and their friends. They believe they have a right to all the city contracts, the development deals, and all hidden spending. They believe Mount Vernon belongs to them, not you. As part of this learning process, I also discovered that there were many powerful people in the city, and in Westchester County, who didn’t like what I was doing. They didn’t want me to dig deep or drain the swamp. They didn’t want me to return Mount Vernon to the people; they wanted to keep it in the hands of the powerful.
The old Mount Vernon is struggling to hold on and they will stop at nothing. They have reached out to their political pals in high places and asked them to stop me from doing what the voters wanted. It has not been easy these past few weeks, dealing with the political attacks and enemies. I am blessed by the strong support of my wife, Cherish, and she and I are determined to see us, and the city, through this battle. We will move Mount Vernon forward.
I have only one request of you, the people. Do not judge me by the attacks and smears raised by an entrenched elite. Do not let the cynicism of the past dampen the hope for tomorrow. Judge me and my administration by our work and the changes we have brought. This includes crime dropping by 31 percent since 2011 and property values going up after years of falling. You can call this the “safety dividend.” I believe in Mount Vernon and I strongly believe that Mount Vernon will win the battle for the future. That is my commitment to you and I will continue to fight on your behalf.
Mayor Richard Thomas