by Gloria Dulan-Wilson
First of all kudos and congratulations to Ernest D. Davis upon his victory as Mayor of Mount Vernon. Talk about a come back! To have been re-elected as Mayor of Mount Vernon, after having lost the election in 2007, following a succession of successful service for three terms, shows not only fortitude and determination, but a love for his city and its residents!
It also bespeaks the fact that that love is equally returned by the constituents, who returned him to his rightful place as mayor — a role which suits him to a T!!
If it sounds like I’m a fan and a supporter of Mayor Ernest (“Ernie”) Davis, you are absolutely, 100% correct. And have been for quite some time. I had the great fortune of having covered his initial campaign for mayor while I was a feature writer for the Daily Challenge. Though his predecessor was an African American, Davis came up against some formidable foes who spent a great deal of time and money trying to split the community, divide supporters against each other, and undermine his election. I actually spent so much time in Mt. Vernon covering the campaign, that many thought I lived there. Needless to say Mayor Davis’ election was a victory of sorts for the Daily Challenge, as well, because they totally endorsed his candidacy from the onset.
Over the 12 years that followed, Davis as mayor proved to be one of the best things Mount Vernon could have done for itself. And as of Sunday, January 1, 2012, when Ernest D. Davis becomes the 21st Mayor of Mount Vernon, they can once again breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that he is once again at the helm.
According to Friends of Ernie Davis and the Ernie Davis Inaugural Committee, the official Swearing In Ceremony on Sunday, January 1, 2012, from 4:00 p.m. thru 6:00 p.m. at the Macedonia Baptist Church, 141 South Ninth Avenue, Mount Vernon, New York. A reception will immediately follow in the Rotunda of Mount Vernon City Hall located at One Roosevelt Square.
Now, I could easily end this article right here, and everyone would agree that this is one great accolade. But you know me better than that. There are so many important things to glean from this major coup, and I’m not about to leave it to someone else to point out:
First of all, Ernest Davis has always been a visionary. With his cool, soft spoken manner, and his way with words he has accomplished more than all the bombastic activists put together.
Second, his vision for Mount Vernon has been crystal clear and forward moving from day one, and he’s never faltered in trying to bring them to fruition. Mayor Davis’ philosophy is based on the philosophy and understanding that if Mount Vernon fails, then all will fail.
Third, he has always been integrally tied in with the community, establishing both his family and his business there. Though he started his career as an architect, he began to observe severe discrepancies in the way things were done in Mount Vernon, as compared to the rest of Westchester County. Rather than gripe about it, he decided to be a part of the process for change instead of being on the sidelines.
I first met him when I served as Minority Business Liaison for Nissho Iwai American Corporation (a big four Japanese Trading firm) that was looking to contract with minority contractors in conjunction with a subway fabrication plant that was being constructed in Yonkers at a former Otis Elevator Plant. The Westchester Minority Contractors Association was an organization with many highly skilled African American and Latino businesses that banded together to bid for major construction projects. He was a member of the organization, and had recently been elected as Westchester County Leader. He was making strides in bringing about much needed change in Westchester. He had a distinguished easy going style that put the different factions at ease, making it possible to make headway in providing contract opportunities to heretofore overlooked African American and minority businesses in the area.
He initially served twelve years (six consecutive two-year terms) as Westchester County Legislator, and made a great deal of headway in bringing about quality of life changes that were implemented throughout the county. During his past tenure as County Legislator, Davis understood the problems facing the Mount Vernon community and fought for solutions, including recycling to help maintain the environment, cutting the cost of garbage disposal; pushed for the registration of hand guns; led the fight against the legalization of assault weapons; helped to create the legislation that established the African-American Advisory Board, and supported funding for day care and health centers.
Fourth, Davis was a master at multitasking, without spreading himself too thin. In addition to serving as County Legislator, Davis also served as Commissioner of Assessment, Chairman of the Real Estate Board, Chairman of the Planning Board and Commissioner of Buildings in the City of Mount Vernon, New York. Indeed, he has always maintained an integral involvement in programs that were of importance to Mount Vernon.
As former principle architect of the E. Daniel Davis Architects, he designed many residential housing, churches, day care centers and government projects. Many residents and businesses point with pride at the buildings that have benefited from his creativity and expertise.
Fifth, Mayor Davis’ continued involvement in community and civic organizations included being a Life Member of the NAACP; member of Progressive Lodge #64; The Westchester Arts Council; The Institute for Student Achievement. Davis is also a lifetime member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, where he was voted Omega Man of the Year (we Deltas are most proud of him as well). In addition, he is a member of the African-American Men of Westchester and a lifetime member of the National Council of Negro Women. He is also the recipient of more than sixty awards, including the Nelson Mandela High School “Man of the Year” award, and the Westchester Philharmonic “Lifetime Achievement Award.”
Sixth, Mount Vernon, also known as “Money Earnin’ Mount Vernon” is home to many greats, including the late rap artist Heavy D., Denzel Washington, State Senator Ruth Thompson, among other. It is a predominantly Black Westchester County Community, directly north of New York City, and shares borders with the Bronx. The community has consistently elected African American mayors for nearly 20 years, something New York City has not managed to accomplish (that’s conversation for another article, though). With that comes a great deal of responsibility and opportunity, and Davis, who graduated from North Carolina A&T, an HBCU, in 1960 (in Greensboro, North Carolina, where the first sit-ins took place) with a B.S. in Architectural Engineering, is keenly aware of what that means.
His re-election was endorsed by all sectors of Mount Vernon, but is an example to the up and coming Black youth that no defeat is ever final; that when you operate with quality, care and concern, people are not willing to settle for less. But what many may have overlooked was this: while Ernest Davis may have changed his role, in becoming mayor, he is perhaps one of the few to have taken office and maintained his Afrocentricity – his locks were intact, his style was intact, and his consciousness is intact. A lot greyer than when he started out, he maintains that quiet dignity, laced with the right amount of colloquialism to put you at ease.
Seven, the four year hiatus he endured between 2007 and 2011 was, perhaps, just the contrast Mt. Vernon needed to really drive home the point that Davis’ administration represented integrity and prosperity. Mount Vernon had been hit (like so many others) with the economic down turn, and then had the problem exacerbated by an administration that further reduced the surplus, undoing a great deal that had been accomplished under Davis’ tenure. Clearly, there will be a great deal for him to undertake as he steps back into the leadership role. However, he can be confident that he will have plenty of hands on support and assistance from the residents themselves, who have been known to roll up their sleeves and pull together under the right leader.
Eighth, as he rebuilds his transition team, he is also maintaining communication with the incumbent (who is trying to sneak in as many of his cronies as possible – not going to work though). Davis rolled his sleeves up the day after the election, and pulled out the proverbial drawing board to chart a new course for Mount Vernon. He has called for the City Council, the Comptroller, as well as the lame duck mayor to put the people of Mount Vernon first in their future proceedings, and discontinue practices that will likely do more harm than good to the community.
Now, as in the beginning, his vision for Mount Vernon remains crystal clear and focused. With so much to do to reverse the reversals, look for the news to be filled with innovative concepts and actions over the coming weeks, months and days.
Like President Barack Obama, Davis has a “Yes We Can” spirit that will be instrumental in establishing Mount Vernon’s primacy in New York State.
Congratulations also to Mt. Vernon’s First Lady Bettye Davis, and first daughters, Rene and Lisa. Ernie Davis is proof positive that you can’t keep a good man down.
On Saturday, January 14, 2012, Davis will host a formal Inaugural Ball at the Surf Club, 280 Davenport Avenue in New Rochelle, New York. Tickets are $200 per person and reserved tables for ten are priced at $2,000.
Tix can be purchased online:
or by calling 914.363.7869, or by mail with checks payable to:
Friends of Ernie Davis
Post Office Box 2197
Mount Vernon, New York 10550-2197
Proceeds of this event will help defray costs associated with the Ernie Davis for Mayor Campaign.
Stay Blessed &
KWANZAA KIZURI AND HAPPY NEW YEAR from GDW!!
bullet ColumnistGloria Dulan-Wilson Is a veteran New York City Journalist. Her experiences, perspective & sense of history are an invaluable combination. “check out my blog:” www.gloria-dulan-wilson.blogspot.com