by Rick Pezzullo
Westchester County Executive George Latimer will celebrate his election victory on Sunday, January 7 at Westchester Community College during an inauguration ceremony, and the Rye Democrat is ready to tackle the many challenges that lie ahead.
“Westchester is not owned by the county executive of the moment,” Latimer said last month at a Business Council of Westchester breakfast at Tappan Hill in Tarrytown. “For too long we’ve been bouncing back and forth between political ideologies. We need pragmatism; we can’t get everything we want. We need to have honest dialogue before we make decisions. We need to be grownups and negotiate intelligently. Not everyone can be happy, but we can’t keep kicking stuff down the road.”
Latimer, 64, ousted two-term Republican Rob Astorino on November 7 with a resounding 57% to 43% triumph. Voters in Tarrytown, Irvington and Sleepy Hollow were in line with the majority of residents in the county.
Latimer is no stranger to county government having served 13 years on the Board of Legislators, including four years as board chairman. He will be vacating his seat in the state Senate, where he has represented the 37th District for the last five years. Prior to that he served four two-year terms in the state Assembly.
To prepare for his new $160,760 job, Latimer put together a transition team that has been meeting since November. Recently, he unveiled the names of four individuals that will serve in key leadership positions in his administration.
Latimer nominated retiring County Legislator Ken Jenkins as Deputy County Executive. Jenkins has been on the county board since 2008 and served as board chair from 2010-2014.
“I consider Ken Jenkins to be an outstanding elected official and community leader. He has shown, time and again, that moving Westchester forward is at the heart of his actions and efforts,” Latimer said. “He will bring practical experience to the team as we tackle the issues facing Westchester, together.”
Another former county legislator, John Nonna, Esq,, will serve as County Attorney. A former mayor of Pleasantville, Nonna is currently a partner with the Squire, Patton Boggs law firm, with a practice that focuses on commercial and insurance litigation.
“I have known John for many years, and he is the consummate professional attorney,” Latimer said. “He has a sharp mind and a steady manner, with a deep commitment to justice — traits that will serve the County Attorney’s office, and by extension the entire county, very well.”
In addition, Latimer nominated Joan McDonald to be the Director of Operations, and Catherine Cioffi, J.D. to be Director of Communications.
McDonald is a former New York State Commissioner of Transportation, serving in that capacity under Governor Andrew Cuomo. During her 4.5 years as Commissioner, she oversaw a department with 8,300 employees and a budget of $4 billion. Cioffi has an extensive background in radio news, including WCBS NewsRadio 880, and marketing and public relations with Mercy College.
“Joan McDonald is a tremendous leader and administrator, who has a track record of success everywhere she has served. I am honored and excited that she is willing to join our administration and help move Westchester forward,” Latimer said. “Catherine Cioffi will be a wonderful addition to my communications team. Her news, community relations and broad experience will help our administration address community concerns and help to ensure the transparency we have promised to the people of Westchester.”