After months of hinting and public speculation, Anthony Merante announced his intent to run for Mayor of Yonkers. The Republican City Council Member from the sixth district held an event on January 28th at the Mt. Olympus diner off Central Ave where over 100 supporters first heard the news.
Merante’s Political History
Anthony Merante was elected to City Council in 2017, replacing the term-limited John Larkin. This close race against Democrat Matthew Orefice was decided by literally a handful of votes. During his campaign and first term, Merante leaned hard into his campaign slogan of, “It’s All About You!” He would regularly travel his district to check up on the filling of pot holes and dead tree removals. This commitment to ground-level engagement paid off during his re-election campaign in 2021. That race saw the Spano-backed Yonkers Police veteran Tim Hodges come within 300 votes of unseating Merante. The effort by the Spano machine to oust the independent-minded Merante with a compliant Hodges went so far as to get Hodges on the Conservative Party‘s ballot line. It is rumored that the previously cordial relationship between the Council Member and the Mayor soured a bit after this aggressive campaign.
The announcement on Saturday came as no surprise to those who follow the councilman. In events dating back to late summer 2022 (including one at the same Mt. Olympus diner) his constituents have expected this news. With his vocal opposition to the extension of term limits in November, the intent to run was as self-evident as it was unspoken.
Merante hopes to take his heretofore hyper-local and pragmatic approach to governing city-wide. He is heavily leaning on the “forgotten man” concept in politics which calls out to those who feel as though their needs are being ignored by their government.
“I have not forgotten you. As a matter of fact, I hear you. I listen. I always say God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason, so we should listen twice as much as we talk.”Anthony Merante
To date, no Republicans have declared to challenge Merante in a primary. However, speculation is that Joe Pinion III is being urged to do so. Pinion has privately offered mixed comments on the issue. Firstly, he asserts that after the long and difficult – though ultimately failed – campaign for US Senate against Chuck Schumer in 2022, he does not intend to go back on the campaign trail in 2023. But, in a response to a potential Merante mayorship, Pinion privately asserted that the city needs a change and something [or someone?] fresh and different.
Assuming Merante clinches the Republican nomination in June, his battle will only just begin. Mike Spano won his last general election with 70% of the vote. But, will Spano even be on the ticket? If he is, will he be the only opponent? With the lawsuit to contest the term limits extension still undecided, there is a chance that Spano may not be eligible to assume office for an unprecedented fourth consecutive term. If not blocked, he will still have to win the Democratic primary against the likes of Margaret Coleman and others. Assuming these hurdles are cleared, Yonkers voters may see a third (and potentially a fourth) choice for Mayor on their November ballot. In such an uncertain political climate, a third-party candidate changes the odds for everyone. Meaning that vote-splitting could actually result in a greater chance of delivering the office of Mayor to Mr. Merante.