In follow-up interviews with both County Executive Rob Astorino and State Senator George Latimer, his challenger, we asked them what they stood for and the biggest reason residents should vote for them on November 7.
Rye residents probably don’t need a reminder that, over the years, Latimer was responsible for moving forward the installation of a sluice
gate at Bowman Dam, helping pass a hotel tax in Rye, and extending the life of the No. 76 bus.
If elected, Latimer asserts he will try to “avoid” raising taxes, and not through “budget gimmicks, one-shot deals, and pay-to-play contracts” as he alleges his opponent has. He would ask for a full State Comptroller’s audit of County finances.
Latimer’s first-year plan also includes development of an environmental plan to reduce the County’s carbon footprint over four years. “Smart energy use is smart use of taxpayer dollars.”
He would also issue an executive order to prohibit certain exhibitions from the County Center, starting with gun shows. “I join with the people of Westchester and the Board of Legislators in rejecting gun shows on County property. I do not believe that promoting weapons on government property is appropriate. While I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, I do not believe that there is any proper role for government in promoting guns and gun paraphernalia.”
In a long-range effort to reshape juvenile punishment procedure — so that crimes by 16 and 17 year-olds will be dealt with by the juvenile, not the criminal justice, system — Latimer said he would set up a task force to review implementation of the “Raise the Age” law. “The vast majority of teen crime is non-violent.”
As a State legislator, who served in both houses, Latimer said, “I am singularly qualified to expand Westchester’s relationships and impact in Albany.”
Latimer told the paper that because he’s been in the minority in the State Senate [there are currently 32 Democrats in the State Senate and 31 Republicans, but eight Independent Democrats caucus with the Republicans] his name hasn’t been on any legislation even though he’s authored several, including a bill that would expand protection against hate crimes.
Among his other priorities are: beginning to “redress the neglect of women’s issues” in Westchester County, forging a greater partnership with local governments, and integrating efforts to fight opioids.
The County Executive stands firmly on his record and the fact that he has changed the mindset inside County government. Rather than just spend and tax, as many of his predecessors did, he has “increased the value of the County’s assets and created new revenue streams.” He points to the $1.2 billion bioscience/technology center planned on the Grasslands campus in Mt. Pleasant, which will generate 12,000 high-paying jobs and $9 million in tax revenue annually for the County.
What are his proudest accomplishments to date? “Protecting taxpayers by holding the tax levy flat for seven years; preserving essential services by, for one, by successful negotiation with seven of the eight unions so that their members are now contributing to their healthcare benefits; and promoting economic growth through the creation of 44,000 private sector jobs.”
Astorino points to the fact that the tax levy rose 17% from 2005-2010 under his predecessor Andy Spano. “By holding the rate flat in a responsible way, we’re putting money in resident’s pockets, which is particularly significant for seniors and those on fixed incomes.”
Westchester currently has the highest credit rating of any county in New York and an unemployment rate of 4.1, the lowest in the State, he noted.
Among the new programs created during his time in office are the Fatherhood Initiative, Safer Communities Initiative (bringing together public and private resources to protect schools and towns from acts of senseless violence), Project Worthy (marshaling resources to combat opioids); and the Local Development Corporation (helping nonprofits secure low-cost financing).
Earlier this week, Astorino was at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the completion of the final leg of the uninterrupted 37-mile County Trailway that stretches from the Bronx to Putnam County.
May the road rise up to meet both Astorino and Latimer after Election Day.
— Robin Jovanovich
Mayor Joe Sack on Purchase Street on a recent Saturday morning
Democratic Mayoral candidate Josh Cohn on Elm Place
Republican Council candidates Susan Watson and Elizabeth Parks talking to a voter outside Midland School
Republican Council candidate Susan Watson knocking on doors
Councilman Terry McCartney
The Rye Democratic candidates for Council (Ben Stacks, Julie Souza, Sara Goddard, Josh Cohn) got up early many a morning to spread their message to commuters at both the Rye and Harrison train stations.