The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York


AUGUST 19, 2011

Why the Independence Party line matters

Every primary season there seems to be a brouhaha about the Independence Party ticket. Last year, two local Democratic candidates battled it out in a strenuous and heated recount seeking the nod for the party’s place on the ballot. The primaries earlier last fall between David Menken and Erik Jacobsen on the Conservative and Independence lines weren’t officially decided until weeks after the polls closed on Sept. 15. In those primaries, which further fueled an already heated race, a judge certified Mr. Jacobsen as the winner on both party lines after it was determined that an error occurred in one voting machine in Katonah.

This year, Peter Harckham, the incumbent District 2 County Legislator, was endorsed by the Independence Party. But the local Republican and Conservative candidate, Peter Michaelis, also wanted a shot at the Independence Party line. Supporters of Mr. Michaelis gathered signatures to put his name on the Independence Party primary ballot in Lewisboro, but when there was a question about the legality of some of the signatures, a judge ordered them discounted. Mr. Michaelis fell 47 names short of those necessary to get on the ballot for the Tuesday, Sept. 13, primary.

Before Judge Gregory LaCava issued his decision, Mr. Michaelis sent statements decrying Mr. Harckham’s challenge to the signatures.

Mr. Harckham shot back that Mr. Michaelis was playing politics.

After the decision, Mr. Michaelis snorted, “Harckham knows that his constituents are sick and tired of him voting for down-county interests instead of the interests of northern Westchester ... Harckham’s constituents need to be served tax relief, not subpoenas.”

All this vitriol for a minor party endorsement? After all, according to Westchester Board of Election statistics, in the 2nd Assembly District, which Mr. Michaelis and Mr. Harckham contested, there are 1,576 Independence Party voters out of about 25,000 voters, or about 4 percent of the electorate. There are about 3,500 Independence Party voters in our 89th State Assembly District, and only 434 in Bedford — out of about 8,000 Bedford voters. In Pound Ridge there are only 157 registered Independence Party voters out of about 2,700 registered voters.

According to their website, the Independence Party seeks “to be an organization in which candidates emerge from the grassroots and work diligently to achieve mass appeal; to be an organization that will drive innovation and change by encouraging a new political prototype of leadership.”

They describe themselves as welcoming “party members who hold varying views on social issues; to be an organization that will vigorously pursue pro-business policies, fiscally sound government practices and a rational energy agenda that emphasizes independence and fosters economic prosperity for all.”

It appears to be an amalgam of both Democratic and Republic principles, identifiable as, simultaneously, neither and both.

Their methodology in choosing candidates is hardly groundbreaking: Westchester County’s Independence Party has stated that it endorses candidates based upon their qualifications after a “comprehensive screening process that includes an interview of each candidate.”

The state’s party chairman is Frank MacKay. Not your traditional politician, the party’s website chronicles Mr. MacKay’s career in public relations, entertainment and politics. “In 1985, at the age of 18, he published his first music publication, ‘Network,’ which fast became a hit among music business insiders, musicians and their fans,” states his bio at the party’s website. “Throughout the next 10 years, MacKay built a significant following in the music industry as a band and club promoter. By the age of 25, he had launched three nightclubs known as Dr. Shay’s and managed entertainers such as Criss Angel and the rock band Los Gusanos, featuring CJ Ramone.”

This guy is better suited to be a judge on “American Idol” than a political kingmaker. Our guess is that a large majority of Independence Party members don’t have a clue what their party stands for. What draws some voters to the Independence Party — and what makes the party nod particularly important in tight elections — is the idea that a voter is standing outside the political mainstream, taking a chance, eschewing the Republican and Democratic bromides and coming up with something fresh.

More than once we’ve heard well-intentioned local voters proudly say, “I’m not Democrat, I’m not Republican, I’m a registered independent.”

“You mean you are a registered member of the Independence Party?”

“No, I’m a registered independent,” they insist. “I don’t vote Democrat or Republican. I always vote for the independent candidate.”

And that’s why the Independence Party line matters.

HOME     |     SUBSCRIBE     |     ADVERTISE     |     NEWSROOM     |     CONTACT

The official newspaper of the towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York



Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    

Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    

Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Perks – 197 Katonah Avenue    

  4. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  5. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  6. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road

Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    

  2. Connie’s at Northern Westchester Hospital
    400 E. Main Street    

South Salem/Vista

  1. JNR Pharmacy – 222 Oakridge Commons;
    Route 123   

Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

The Record-Review is available from our office at

264 Adams Street, Bedford Hills, NY

and at these locations:

Single copies $1.00