Latimer First State of the County Address Focuses on Moving Forward
by Rick Pezzullo
Westchester County Executive George Latimer delivered his first State of the County Address on April 16 with a message of moving the county forward and getting a handle on its finances.
“What I am here to deliver tonight is news that it is a new day in Westchester County. A day of new opportunity, a day of new ideas and approaches and a day of new growth. And friends – the State of our County is moving forward,” Latimer remarked inside packed legislative chambers in White Plains.
“The state of this county, our Westchester, is determined. Determined to meet our challengers, to work together – successfully. To achieve and overcome. We are the greatest experiment in self-governance ever attempted. Flawed – but constantly seeking improvement,” he said. “We look forward with clear vision to the problems we face, and clear determined to succeed, for ourselves, our children and grandchildren, and for all of Westchester, both Westchester today and – Westchester yet to come.”
Latimer, who ousted two-term Republican Rob Astorino last November, said the county’s financial condition was not as rosy as his predecessor had portrayed. He is anxiously awaiting a full audit of Westchester’s finances from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
“While we have big plans….to move the State of our County forward together – we must understand where our fiscal house stands. And much to my chagrin – the numbers right now do not look pretty,” he said. “Our county’s finances have fallen victim to “sweep it under the rug” economics for too long. Just take for example the countless number of hard working men and women of Westchester County. While contract negotiations are a difficult, careful process – leaving this undone, has accumulated over seven years of gridlock, and that hurts Westchester’s workers, taxpayers and overall fiscal standing.”
“A path forward lies in working with our brothers and sisters in labor and building a Westchester we are all proud of. Together we can revive Westchester’s economy and workforce with jobs and policies aimed to boost Westchester’s work force,” Latimer continued. “To continue to move Westchester to a place of positive fiscal footing, to improved bond ratings and improved credit outlooks – we must strive to build better relationships with all Westchester County stakeholders. From federal, state, and local lawmakers to nonprofit and business leaders to labor and civic heads – fostering relationships provides savings to taxpayers. After eight years of one-shot deals and reliance on shaky revenues, we will work closely with our partners in government to provide an honest assessment of where we stand as a county.”
Latimer, a former longtime state senator and assemblyman, stressed the importance of unity and transparency. He said there are many hurdles to overcome but vowed to be as transparent as possible with his decisions and policies.
“Everything I do, every step of the way I plan to be as transparent with you as possible. From my press conferences, to Board of Acquisition and Contract Meetings everything is recorded and placed on the county’s YouTube channel and often streamed lived on the county’s Facebook page. This is my commitment to you – total transparency,” he vowed. “Many elected officials throughout the country have lost the faith of the people and we have to renew that trust. I expect nothing but honesty in my administration – corruption and dishonesty will not be tolerated.”
“We are all united together, tonight, here in OUR Westchester, and it reminds me of a Nigerian proverb I once read – “In a time of crisis, a wise man builds bridges and a foolish man builds dams.” Right now in this country we are divided, but here in Westchester County we are committed to building bridges. Bridges between people, cultures, political parties, different ages, time and beliefs,” Latimer said.