Thursday, February 22, 2007

“I Am My Father’s Son”

Sam Zherka, publisher of The Westchester Guardian, is presented an award for his tireless support of and contributions to The Integrity Committee of the Westchester Independence Party, by Chairman Nader Sayegh.

Thursday evening, February 8th, the Westchester Integrity Committee of the Independence Party ran a cocktail reception headlined “A New Direction For Responsible Government,” to honor Sam Zherka, Publisher of The Westchester Guardian. More than 300 guests from diverse political affiliations and positions, from all over the lower Hudson Valley paid $125-a-plate to attend.

Mike Edelman, well known attorney, and Republican political analyst spoke at length regarding the need to do away with Cross-endorsement, the device permitted here in New York State, and only four other states, that permits minor parties to endorse the candidates of the Republican or Democratic Party, without running a candidate of their own. Given the closeness of countywide and other local elections, the cross-endorsement of a minor party, particularly the Independence Party, with its substantial enrollment, has often been the critical difference, determining the outcome of elections.

Cathy L. Stewart, New York County Independence Party Chairwoman, spoke about the need to bring about reform and honest elections. She reflected upon the history of the Independence Party in New York stressing the constructive influence of party members such as the Integrity Committee and praising the courage and accomplishments of Nader Sayegh, master of ceremonies and leader of the movement.

State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins made a very frank and heartfelt presentation as keynote speaker, particularly in light of the fact that the Independence Party of Westchester was under the virtual control of her opponent, former State Senator Nick Spano, through Party Chair Giulio Cavallo, in the election of 2004, and in her victorious attempt last year. Stewart-Cousins described the difficulties and obstacles she had to overcome, in a race, many close observers believe she won in 2004, but which was denied her by a systematic and calculated disenfranchisement of hundreds of voters. She encouraged those present to continue their efforts to reform the Independence Party, and to work hard to eliminate election irregularities, and disenfranchisement of voters.

Nader Sayegh, Esq., Chairman, and leader of The Integrity Committee, presented Honoree Sam Zherka with a plaque in appreciation of his tireless efforts on behalf of the Committee, in their attempt to “Reorganize The Westchester Independence Party.”

Accepting the award, Mr. Zherka, born in the United States, of Albanian parents, spoke of his father’s struggle against the Communists, and of the ten years he spent as a political prisoner for his beliefs and his resistance to Communist dictatorship. He explained his own resistance to injustice and election fraud here in Westchester, declaring, “I am my father’s son.”

Publisher Zherka, from the podium, called upon Jeffrey Deskovic, recently released exoneree, formerly of Peekskill, to share his thoughts and experiences with the guests present. Coming forward to a standing ovation, Mr. Deskovic, for nearly 15 minutes, kept the audience, which included a number of law enforcement personnel, spellbound with his description of the activity that imprisoned him for a crime he clearly had nothing to do with at age sixteen, but served the next sixteen years of his life in prison for.

Several other individuals, including Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone, and former candidate for Westchester DA, Tony Castro, came forward and congratulated Sam Zherka for his contributions to the Independence Party.

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