2 join race for Kent Town Board

(Original publication: September 3, 2003)

KENT — In a town where politics are usually Republican, Kent's 230 Independence Party voters next week will have to choose two of four candidates vying for their party's line in the race for Town Board.

Rosemary Zory, 37, and Gary Archer, 41, collected enough signatures to force the primary on Tuesday with Kent Councilwoman Patricia Madigan and newcomer Gordon Moccio. The Putnam County Independence Party endorsed Republicans Madigan, who has been a councilwoman five of the last six years, and Moccio for the at-times contentious Town Board.

"The Independence Party continues to endorse Republicans and the same old Republicans," said Zory, a vice president of human resources at Modem Media, a Norwalk, Conn.-based Internet marketing company. "It's the same old show every election. We need somebody who is going to make a difference."

Republican voters in Kent outnumber Democrats 40 percent to 27 percent — which is similar to the countywide ratio. Independence Party voters are actually the fourth most popular political affiliation in Kent, with 142 fewer members than the town's 372 Conservatives. It is a ballot line that many candidates depend on for votes from outside of their own party.

"(Zory) never asked for an interview. She's in no position to make any comments," said William Sayegh, chairman of the county Independence Party. "But I'm glad when the system works. The people of Kent should come out and make their choice."

Neither Zory nor Archer decided to enter the race until after the county party interviewed four prospective candidates, including Democratic Councilman Joseph D'Ambrosio. He had the party's backing when he successfully ran in 1999.

"I continued to ask the question, 'Who else is running?' " said Zory, a registered member of the Independence Party since she was old enough to vote.

She wants to create a business development team to attract commercial establishments to Kent. The town, she said, is "going out of business," referring to cost overruns at its new Town Hall complex and the threat of a double-digit tax increase that some are predicting for 2005.

Moccio, a 15-year Lewisboro police officer who works for Westchester's Department of Environmental Facilities, said he was surprised to be involved in a minor-party primary.

"I didn't expect a primary but anyone can collect signatures and have one," said Moccio, 44, who wants to bring in environmentally friendly commercial development to help keep taxes down.

Madigan was first elected to the board in 1997 and lost her re-election bid in 2001, only to win an election last year to fill a one-year unexpired term created by the resignation of Councilwoman Christine Woolley. She said she wanted to see a more temperate Town Board and continued outside audits of Kent's finances.

She said Zory's argument about the Independence Party endorsing only Republicans was invalid — pointing out the party this year endorsed Democrat William "Bil" Tulipane for Kent supervisor, as well as D'Ambrosio in 1999.

"We saw that D'Ambrosio did not meet the expectations of the Independence Party," said Sayegh, adding that the board's "power struggles" and poor budgeting records require "new blood." Madigan, he said, won't get the party's endorsement next election if she is part of "the same mix of problems."

D'Ambrosio said Sayegh's assertion was "just plain baloney."

"I think sometimes friendships impede the process. I think I represented them well. I will go on," D'Ambrosio said.

In addition to the Independence primary, Madigan and Moccio are also facing a challenge from John Occhino, a self-employed accountant in Carmel, on the GOP line. Occhino lost to Madigan in a Republican primary last year, when the two were trying to fill the remainder of Woolley's term.

Board members earn $14,515 a year for their four-year terms. In November, the winners will face Democrats D'Ambrosio, 55, and newcomer Vincent Fiorentino, 43, who are also running for the two open Town Board seats.

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