In a private New Year’s Day ceremony, Mayor-Elect Shawyn Patterson-Howard has been sworn in as the official Mayor of Mount Vernon. While the official public inauguration is planned for Saturday, January 4 at 1 p.m., this simpler ceremony marks the official transfer of power in the new year to Patterson-Howard.
The new mayor became the first woman elected to the position this past November, after defeating incumbent mayor Andre Wallace, and previously defeating both Wallace (then city council president) and the previous sitting mayor, Richard Thomas, in the June Democratic primary.
If any of that seems confusing — or if you need a refresher — in March 2018, then-mayor Thomas was arrested on charges of grand larceny stemming from misappropriated of campaign funds. In July 2019, on the eve of jury selection, Thomas pled guilty to lesser charges, avoiding a potential felony conviction, but was then ousted by the city council who deemed his office forfeit.
A month of bureaucratic chaos ensured, in which Wallace was named interim mayor but Thomas refused to vacate his position, and during which time carious governmental offices recognized each as the legitimate mayor. In mid-August, a court ruling decided Wallace was the legal mayor for the remainder of the term. Having finished last in the primary, Wallace ran on the Republican ticket when facing off with Patterson-Howard in November.
“I am excited and prepared to embark on this journey with all of you, shared Patterson-Howard on social media. “The days ahead will be challenging. We have wounds to heal and bridges to repair, but I am confident that we will come together to restore and revive our city.”
Patterson-Howard was sworn in by City Judge Nichelle Johnson at the historic St. Paul’s Church, on a bible held by her husband, Marvin Howard. While she is the first woman elected to the office of mayor in the city’s history, she is not the first woman to hold the position; City Council President Carmella Iaboni served as acting mayor after her predecessor, Thomas E. Sharpe, died in October 1984, until a special election could be held for a permanent replacement in February of the following year.
The new mayor concluded on a note of optimism and motivation, saying, “Let us work to make our community as strong as we all know it can be.”