Positively Cheaters

Normally when someone gets caught red handed cheating, especially in politics, the instinct and smart strategy is to lay low, keep quiet and hope the issue goes away soon. Only the Democratic Party Bosses in Peekskill would try to disguise their misdeeds by trying to make those who caught and exposed them the bad guys, and make themselves, the perpetrators of the cheating, the victims. It’s a strategy I guess, but not a good one. It doesn’t work that way and it’s not working now. Now, the facts are too great and the intent of their actions too obvious to anyone who looks at them objectively.

In the case of the Derek Hartley Democratic Petitions that were invalidated and thrown out by the Westchester County Board of Elections, there are so many glaring and obvious facts showing why. Those who knowingly handed them in with these unqualified and improper entries need to be held accountable. Let’s look at just a few concrete examples of what they claim was “overlooked” or “missed” before they submitted petitions in to the Board of Elections:

Hartley PetitionThose who live in New York’s Northern Westchester area and especially political people associated with these petitions know that “Woodstock, NY,” “Yonkers, NY,” “Putnam Valley, NY” and “Salem, NY” are not part of District #1 – some of these towns are not even located within Westchester County! Yet, entries with these locations were submitted to the Board of Elections. Why? Why didn’t they cross out these and other ‘out of district’ entries before submitting the petitions? Why didn’t they cross out the entries by people not enrolled in the Democratic Party?

The Peekskill Democratic Party Chairwoman even told the Journal News, “Our candidate…decided to enter the race very late in the petition process and unfortunately did not have time to collect enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.” Sounds pretty clear to me they knew what they were doing.
Ciotti quote with JN2

Incredibly, their own Campaign Manager, who is not even a registered Democrat but is a ‘non affiliated’ voter, signed TWO DIFFERENT Hartley petitions for TWO DIFFERENT witnesses! You mean to tell me that their own Campaign Manager didn’t know she shouldn’t have signed the petitions – and attempted to be counted twice! Wow!

Desperate people do desperate things for sure. And desperate people also do foolish things. They were also foolish to think they could get away with this.

They like saying there were “only 83” entries disqualified. As if that is a positive for them. So, cheating 83 times is ok? Handing in such an exorbitant number of improper and unqualified entries is ok? In their mind it probably is, unless you get caught.

I could go on but let’s talk about the dynamics of the process. Each petition contains entries (sometimes interchangeably referred to as signatures even though the reference is not to the actual signature but the person signing). These ‘entries’ or ‘signatures’ are witnessed by whoever is ‘carrying’ the petition for that particular candidate. Before submitting the petition the witness must sign the affidavit at the bottom. This affidavit is serious and is a sworn statement, an oath, as to the validity of the information contained on the petition. It is up to the witness to verify the information before signing. If information is incorrect or if there are any problems with any particular entry, all the witness would need to do is strike a line through the entry and it would not be counted. Mistakes happen but honesty in acknowledging them is counted on. Hence the affidavit. There is time to make these corrections before they are handed in to the Board of Elections. The act of submitting the petitions with the known irregularity or unqualified entry is where the trouble begins.

The Board of Elections does not check the validity of petitions unless they are challenged. They simply do not have the staff or time to do so. That is why they count on candidates to keep each other honest. And most are. However, like this time with Hartley, they weren’t. The invalid entries were even acknowledged by the Democratic Election Commissioner (who is also the Westchester County Democratic Party Chairman) who sent out the disqualification notice for Hartley’s petitions. It was a bipartisan decision to disqualify the petitions.

So, why was this challenge important and making the results public so important? The integrity of the process is key. Voters need to know if the candidates they vote for are honest and follow the rules. They need to know that the people involved with the process have integrity and do the right thing. Because if someone is willing to cheat and lie about petitions, what will they also be willing to cheat and lie about once in office? It is a legitimate question.

Make no mistake; the people involved in this process are seasoned politicians who have been doing this a long time. They know full well what is allowed or not. They know how to follow the rules, or I should say, at least know what the rules are. In Peekskill, the Democratic Party seems to constantly play fast and loose with the rules. They look to divide people, bully people, inspire hate and twist up or totally ignore facts.

They firmly believe in ‘the end justifies the means’ mantra to politics and government. They are willing to do whatever it takes to win and attack and lash out when caught and get called out on it.  It has to stop and can’t be tolerated any more!

Let’s have a little reminder of the past three elections and the shenanigans they were also caught in:

DeVaul_BOE_Ruling 2009In my first run for County Legislator the Democrats put up a ‘straw’ candidate for the same Independence Party nomination that their Democratic candidate and I were vying for.  Since I was the Party Nominee, their plan was to run the straw candidate (who was a registered Independence voter and good friend of the Democratic Candidate) against me in a primary. If he was to win the primary, the straw candidate would withdraw and have the ‘Committee to Fill Vacancies’ put the Democratic candidate in his place on the ballot. Yes, it sounds very complicated for the average person but it basically shows the level of scheming they are willing to do to try and win. However, we were able to discover the illegitimacy of their petitions and had them challenged. They were deemed invalid and their ‘master plan’ was thwarted.


Proof that some people never learn to just do the right thing.

Proof that some people never learn to just do the right thing.

Incredibly, just two years later they tried again, this time by having someone witness most of their signatures that did not live where he stated on the witness affidavit. This challenge took place in NY State Supreme Court. It not only involved my opponent, Michael Kane, but the entire Peekskill Democratic slate. The result of the case was the disqualification of the individuals named as candidates on the Independence Party line.

Both the county and local candidates were disqualified.

Both the county and local candidates were disqualified.

Also in 2011, I was compelled to file a complaint against my opponent for outright lies and misrepresentations he made on campaign literature. He claimed he was endorsed by the Independence Party, which of course he was not, and that he was a member of the Westchester County Board of Legislators Environment Committee, which was of course a lie since he was never a county legislator. Only actual county legislators are on county board committees. Lol.

Kane exhibits2013
Ciottiv.BOE2013-coverIn another bizarre act, the Peekskill Democrats took me to court to have my valid petitions thrown out. Actually, they challenged both my Independence Party petitions and Republican Petitions. Of course they were unsuccessful in court. So, they appealed the decision and lost again! They knew the only way to beat me in an election was to not have me as a candidate at all. Well, it didn’t work.

So, I went on to win the Independence Party Primary again. And again, I had to challenge my opponent’s misrepresentations and misleading information on campaign material. As usual, I prevailed and the ruling was in my favor.



I point out all of these incidents because each and every year I have been running for Westchester County Legislator the Peekskill Democratic Party bosses have been involved in underhanded attempts to ignore or circumvent the election process to try and gain an unfair advantage in the election. I have caught them EVERY time.

Hopefully, anyone reading this will better understand why I had to not only challenge their actions but also expose it to the public.

This year they raised the stakes and I caught them again. They should know better. They should just follow the rules. They should also know by now that I would discover their attempts and stop it.  They should also know that it takes the same, if maybe even less, effort and time to do things the right way. It’s always better to follow the rules and be honest, transparent and positive instead of being so negative and attacking and creating diversions to obfuscate their improper actions.

They don’t like some of the words I used to describe what they did. I’ll list a few of them below and after reading what I stated above (which is just a sample) you can make up your own mind if the words fit the actions.

1.     deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage.
2.     a particular instance of such deceit or trickery.
3.     any deception, trickery, or humbug.
4.     a person who makes deceitful pretenses; sham; poseur.

1.     characterized by, involving, or proceeding from fraud, as actions, enterprise, methods or gains
2.     given to or using fraud, as a person; cheating; dishonest.

1.     a plan, design, or program of action to be followed; project.
2.     An underhanded plot; intrigue.

I should point out that my intent was to merely bring their underhandedness to light; to try and make the cheating stop for it has gone on too long. I did not, however, choose to enter the criminal realm that addresses this type of action. These are Articles of the NY State Penal Law that apply:


Only this group of individuals, after being caught cheating and being exposed, would try to make themselves the victims and attack those who exposed them. It’s not working and it won’t work. The facts are too strong against them and any objective person who looks at them realizes it.

About John G. Testa

Former District 1 County Legislator, John G. Testa is served five terms at the Westchester County Board of Legislators, spending the last 3 terms as BOL Minority Leader. John G. Testa is a lifelong resident of Peekskill who first entered elected public service as a member of the Peekskill Common Council in 1998 and then served three terms as Mayor. He previously served on the Conservation and Parks Advisory Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. John became an elected official eager to improve the City in which his family has lived for more than a century and quickly earned a reputation as a strong, independent, nonpartisan voice for fiscal responsibility. John received a BS degree in Technology from SUNY Oswego, where his academic achievements gained him induction into Epsilon Pi Tau, the International Honorary Fraternity of Technology. He earned his MS degree in Technology from the City College of New York. He began his teaching career in 1980 at Peekskill High School, his alma mater, as an instructor in Technology and Social Studies, retiring in 2013 after 33 years teaching. John has been a leader in support for the Arts Community in Westchester. He presided over the construction of the Peekskill Art Lofts, the establishment of the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, and the complete restoration of the Paramount Center for the Arts, originally a 1930’s movie house and helped bring critical funding to many Westchester programs. Legislator Testa received the “Advancing the Arts in Westchester Award” by ArtsWestchester. John has a been a leader on environmental issues for two decades and has a long record of initiatives he has supported and spearheaded. His active involvement in developing and promoting environmentally friendly policies began as mayor and continued throughout his time as Westchester County Legislator. His efforts consistently earned John the endorsement of the NY League of Conservation Voters. John’s most recognizable accomplishment has been his promotion and preservation of local history and historic landmarks, bringing an unprecedented focus on the region’s rich history, and its legacy of historic Victorian architecture. His roots in historical preservation stem from his experience as a Revolutionary War re-enactor and member of The Brigade of the American Revolution for 50 years. John was instrumental in securing the preservation of the Lincoln Depot, now the Lincoln Depot Museum, where he now serves as President. The museum was recognized in 2015 as one of The Best Museums in Westchester. He also secured the preservation of historic Fort Hill as parkland, a 40-acre parcel that was originally a Revolutionary War encampment site. Under his leadership, the United States Dept. of the Interior declared Peekskill a “Preserve America Community.” John was able to establish a record number of National Register designations of local structures, including the first Downtown and Neighborhood Historic Districts and supported the preservation of the historic Miller House in North White Plains. In 2017 John was named a “Champion of History” by the Lincoln Society in Peekskill. John and his wife of 37 years, Nancy, live in Peekskill and have two adult children, John, Jr. (fiancé Courtney Kelly) and Katy (husband Mike Mearon). John and Nancy recently welcomed the arrival of their first grandchild, Lacey Mae, in 2019.
This entry was posted in politics, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Positively Cheaters

  1. Tom Pisani says:

    Great job, John.

    Sent from my iPad


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s