The County Executive and Board of Legislators have done an excellent job managing the annual budgets. With the release of the 2023 budget, Westchester residents now have benefitted from 4 property tax levy reductions in a row. As a small business owner for nearly 30 years I have managed budgets, helped large customers reduce costs, and I have created jobs. I can help continue this trend.
Diversity and Inclusion
The recent surge in polarization and pronounced bigotry in this country is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon. I commend the County Executive and the Board of Legislators for their actions in addressing this by updating hate crimes legislation and adopting resolutions denouncing hate speech and violence. I aspire to assist our diverse communities in navigating their differences by emphasizing our shared values. During my tenure on the Eastchester School Board, we oversaw committees and initiatives aimed at promoting cultural awareness and eradicating hate speech, while preserving First Amendment rights. We should acknowledge and celebrate our differences, but even when we cannot, we must still respect them.
During my term on the Eastchester School Board, we negotiated multiple Union contracts and MOAs ahead of expiration with fair but controlled increases for Eastchester Teachers' Association, Eastchester Administrators' Association, Eastchester Monitors' Association, and Civil Service Employees Association. I have a good relationship with our union leadership, and I hope to be able to continue that relationship with the unions of Westchester County.
The challenges posed by modern society, technology, and media were already significant for our communities prior to the pandemic, and they have only intensified. During my tenure as a school board member, we introduced several programs aimed at addressing mental health concerns among students, including Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Social Emotional Learning (SEL), and Mindfulness. It is crucial to recognize that these pressures affect not only our children but people of all ages. Therefore, I am committed to prioritizing support for the County Department of Community Mental Health and continued allocation of resources to community-based mental health organizations.
When my son was in Medical School, he shared stories of an Emergency Room in an economically disadvantaged area where he trained. He described challenges caused when community members would come in with non emergent issues because they had no where else to go. People who don't have insurance or cannot afford healthcare need more Primary Care options. They shouldn't be forced to go to an Emergency Room. It's bad for them and bad for other people who need emergency services. Westchester County recently added funding for Neighborhood Community Health Centers using ARPA funds. I would like to see this program continue and expand .
Public Safety isn't just about police, jails, and enforcement. It's also about investing and integrating the resources needed to ensure our population is safe - healthcare, mental health, jobs, education, and housing. We are very fortunate in Westchester to have strong Public Safety, Probation, and Corrections departments, as well as an excellent Department of Community Mental Health. And I support a balanced use of the Mobile Crisis Response Teams (MCRT) and the work they do to shift mental health crisis response from an enforcement issue to a social issue.
Sustainability & Environment
Westchester County’s Office of Energy Conservation and Sustainability has accomplished a lot since it was created in 2015. I hope to continue to support and expand their role, and will point to what we accomplished in the Eastchester School District as a guide to what I hope to continue to do. Our new buildings in the school district include many sustainability and environmental improvements, such as skylights in classrooms, waterless urinals, energy efficient lighting, water-cooled classrooms. Let’s keep up the good work in this area.
Westchester County has incredible parks, public golf courses and Playland. Glen Island Park and Nature Study Woods in New Rochelle and Twin Lakes Park in Eastchester are just a few of the parks available to all residents. I will work to continue to keep the County parks affordable and will support the continuous five-year capital projects funding to maintain and improve them. We also shouldn’t lose focus that they also represent great employment opportunities for our high school and college aged students, and should be promoted for these opportunities accordingly.
Public Works & Transportation
Westchester County needs to continue to invest in our Bee-Line and ParaTransit systems to make them as commuter friendly and as cost efficient as possible. Although the majority of our regular commuters are our working class residents, we should strive to make our transportation systems a reliable alternative to those driving to work. We need to ensure that a bus commute doesn’t impose a time or financial burden to those utilizing the system, and that our transportation options enhance workers potential employment opportunities. In Eastchester, we purchased new routing software and included the training necessary for the staff so that our transportation team was able to redesign routes to make them as efficient as possible. Always a strong proponent of making technology help drive productivity improvements, I hope to have these similar conversations with our countywide transportation team in the future.