The question of whether the Maryknoll Sisters should vote in Ossining or New Castle in the Nov. 5 election went before a judge Wednesday and a decision is expected as soon as Thursday.
Peter Tripodi, a Republican candidate for the Westchester Board of Legislators in District 9, filed a complaint with the Board of Elections arguing that the sisters were in the wrong district because part of their property is in New Castle. In past elections, he noted, the majority of the nuns have voted for Democratic candidates. Last week, the two-member Board of Elections split its vote on the complaint, sending it to court to be resolved.
Westchester Supreme Court Justice Linda Jamieson heard testimony Wednesday that the Board of Elections decides what district a building is in by the location of the front door. At Maryknoll, the main building is in Ossining except for one corner, according to Sister Janice McLaughlin, the president of the congregation. The address for the building is both 10 Pinesbridge Road and 100 Ryder Road.
“It’s the same difference,” McLaughlin said. “It’s the same building.”
Other buildings, including the Mary Rogers College building, built in the 1960s, are in New Castle but they are connected to the main building by a walkway. A few nuns live there but they are moved around as they depart and return from missionary work.
Tripodi’s lawyer, Guy Parisi, presented evidence that the sisters had filed building applications with the town of New Castle for work on some of their buildings in the town and listed the address as 10 Pinesbridge, arguing that that means the address is part of New Castle.
McLaughlin said she has never seen an address for those buildings.
“The front door on our main building is the one I know as 10 Pinesbridge Road,” she said.
McLaughlin also cataloged the 480-member congregation’s ties to the town of Ossining, including mission training with young people, participating in the Ossining Fair and the town’s interfaith organization, teaching at St. Ann’s and helping form the Open Door Family Medical Centers.
Tripodi, an Ossining councilman, is challenging Democratic Legislator Catherine Borgia.
Democratic Election Commissioner Reginald LaFayette, who voted against changing the nuns’ district, said after the court proceeding that the sisters will be disenfranchised if they are forced to vote in New Castle on Nov. 5 because the board could not notify them in time of the change. About 180 are oversees and are voting by absentee ballot.