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Pound Ridge GOP Kentucky Derby Party Reaches Across the Aisle

POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – It was billed as a Kentucky Derby party, but many of the folks who filled the Pound Ridge home of John and Lisa Sauro on Saturday evening were there primarily for the food, drink, camaraderie and, oh, yeah – a little politics.

The party – a community tradition for three decades – is a Pound Ridge Republican Town Committee-affiliated event, although it’s billed as a nonpartisan affair where people of all political persuasions are welcome.

The party did, however, attract some of the biggest GOP movers and shakers in the area. Congressional Rep. Nan Hayworth put in an appearance, as did state Assembly member Robert Castelli. Sen. Greg Ball, who had a scheduling conflict, nonetheless sent a representative. Pound Ridge Supervisor Gary Warshauer and Town Board member Dick Lyman were also on hand.

“This is our third time hosting this,” said Lisa Sauro as she scampered between her kitchen and dining room, helping to get the buffet-style dinner ready. She noted that although the genesis of the party is through the Republican Party, she considers it more of a neighborhood affair.

“My husband started the Northern Westchester Tea Party and we got to know [local Republicans] that way,” Sauro said. “But I know everyone here [at the party] from the neighborhood. A lot of my good friends are Democrats and they’re here. It’s that kind of day.”

Jon and Jill Posner were two of those Democrats.

“We’ve been to [the party] three times,” said Jon Posner. “We had known about it for a while and I had said, ‘I don’t want to go to a Republican party.’ But Frank [Sisti, a Pound Ridge GOP Committee member] convinced us come, and I love it. I like to hear what they have to say and sometimes I even agree. But I see it more as a town event. And on a town level, politics don’t mean as much – whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat.”

Warshauer said that was particularly true in Pound Ridge.

“We’ve been blessed with not having to deal with partisan politics,” he said. “I’m here for the company; it’s a great group.”

While the Run for the Roses was the theme of the party, many said they only had a passing interest in the race, much like nonfootball fans at a Super Bowl party. Nonetheless, at post time, many of the more than 100 who attended the soiree crowded into the living room to watch as 15-1 underdog I’ll Have Another crossed the finish line first.

Jeanne and Warren Elliott cheered on the winner – it was one of the four horses they’d chosen to win the race. Jeanne Elliott is treasurer for the Pound Ridge Women’s Republican Committee.

“We’ve only missed one of these parties out of the last 10 years,” Warren Elliott said. “It’s a great time and we appreciate our hosts opening up their house to us.”

Joe Zaino, chair of the Pound Ridge Republican Town Committee, said the event serves as way for people to meet with their representatives and candidates up close and personal and ask questions.

“It gives them a chance to interact one-on-one,” he said. “Nan [Hayworth] gave some time to everyone and the same with Castelli. He’ll answer a hundred questions if you want him to.”

Zaino said the party’s informal setting helps put the politicians at ease because the conversation is not all about politics.

“It’s a chance to get to meet your neighbors and get to know them better,” he said. “It’s not overly political. It’s more about having fun and watching the race.”

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