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Yonkers councilwoman enters race to challenge three-term mayor in Democratic primary

Chris McKenna

Rockland/Westchester Journal News

February 20, 2023

YONKERS − A nine-year city councilwoman has entered the race to challenge Mayor Mike Spano in his bid for a fourth term, widening the field of Democrats who may compete in a June primary.

Corazon Pineda Isaac launched her campaign on Thursday with a fiery speech to cheering supporters at Silvio's Restaurant & Pizzeria, vowing to be the first woman and person of color elected to lead Yonkers. She threaded her remarks with lines in Spanish, signaling the appeal a 34-year-old daughter of Dominican immigrants could make to voters in a city that is now 42% Hispanic.

"Look around you, look at this room," she said. "This is Yonkers. And we don't see that in city government, we don't see it reflected in our communities, and we need to change that."

Spano, a fellow Democrat, has led the city of 212,000 since 2012, cruised to reelection in his last two races and commands a formidable campaign war-chest. A split council voted in November to extend the city's three-term limit so he could run again — a heated controversy that is likely to carry over into the campaign.

Pineda Isaac, who represents the council's 2nd District, was one of three members who opposed the term-limit extension in a 4-3 vote. Another was 6th District Councilman Anthony Merante, a Republican who also has launched a campaign for mayor.

Three Democrats besides Spano have now said they will run for mayor. Margaret Fountain-Coleman, a Yonkers special-education teacher and Baptist minister, announced her campaign before charged-up supporters at the Yonkers Veterans Memorial on Jan. 15. Prince Robinson, a community activist, also has announced his candidacy.

Any Democratic candidates who file petitions by April 6 will compete in a June 27 primary. The winner will face Merante in the Nov. 7 general election.

In an interview on Friday, Pineda Isaac, a mother of three who worked as a financial adviser before joining the council, said she was running to elevate the voices of residents who she said feel ignored by city government, including the poor, immigrants and small business owners. She pledged to seek higher funding levels for the city school system and greater diversity in City Hall and within the police and fire departments.

"I just think I bring a different perspective," she said.

Introducing Pineda Isaac at her kickoff was Chuck Lesnick, a former City Council president who lost a Democratic primary to Spano in Spano's first run for mayor in 2011. Her supporters also include Christopher Johnson, majority leader of the Westchester County Board of Legislators.

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