By Rick Pezzullo—
Westchester County Executive George Latimer delivered his fourth State of the County Address in the Legislative Chambers of the Board of Legislators Thursday night, issuing an optimistic message and a vow to rebuild the county from the toll COVID-19 has taken on certain segments.
“I am here to tell you tonight the State of our County – Westchester County – is strong and getting stronger,” Latimer said. “Yes, we have more work to do – but I am here to tell you tonight I am here to do the job at hand, you are here to do the job at hand and together, united – we will do the job at hand. We are the State of our County, and we are united to move forward.”
The address included a series of videos detailing Westchester County’s continuous fight to the other side of the pandemic, including a compilation of public service announcements aimed at achieving greater vaccination numbers.
Latimer commended Dr. Sherlita Amler and the Westchester County Department of Health, the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Emergency Services, who rose to the task from the onset of COVID-19, putting the health and safety of Westchester County’s residents at the forefront of their efforts.
“Here in Westchester County, we started vaccinating on January 5, and that day we started with 10 Department of Health staff members at our health clinic just down the block from here in White Plains,” Latimer said. “We were learning and teaching each other how to vaccinate for COVID-19. From that moment it has been non-stop. I also want to thank the nearly 1,000 county employees who volunteered their time to work at vaccination clinics – that is the Westchester spirit!”
Latimer, who is running for a second four-year term in November, also stressed the importance of keeping his promise to cut county property taxes for the second year in a row, even in the midst of a crippling pandemic. He signed the 2021 budget maintaining all county services, cutting expenditure by $15.7 million, and increasing the county’s fund balance to more than $200 million – the largest fund balance in the county’s history.
“I want to be clear – this is how government is supposed to work. This is good government,” he stressed. “We have worked every day for you, and I mean that. I know what it is like to struggle, I know what it is like to have mom and dad worried at the kitchen table about bills. I know because I have lived it.”
The address also featured a moving tribute to those who have died from 9-11 related illness with a new memorial to be unveiled on the 20th anniversary this September, an acknowledgement of Board of Legislators Vice Chairwoman Alfreda Williams, who is retiring after decades of public service, and a recognition of the first ever Women of Westchester (WOW) Awards.