WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Democratic Westchester legislators say County Executive Rob Astorino’s newly launched gubernatorial run will pull him away from his duties locally, while Republicans say the exposure will benefit the county.
After announcing his candidacy Wednesday, Astorino will hit the road , making stops in the Bronx and Buffalo on Thursday, and Rochester, Syracuse and Albany on Friday.
Democratic Legislator Peter Harckham has questioned Astorino’s number of trips out of the county since getting elected to a second term in November. He said Westchester needs a full-time county executive.
"He asked the people for four more years to serve as county executive. We have enormous challenges right here in Westchester,” Harckham told Daily Voice. “It's unfortunate he’s putting the needs of Westchester aside for his own political aspirations."
Republican legislators Michael Smith and Jim Maisano both said Astorino has a strong team around him and that they are confident he will be able to govern effectively.
However, Majority Leader Catherine Borgia (D – Ossining) said she isn’t so sure, and that the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) has a very aggressive agenda this year.
“It remains to be seen where Astorino’s focus will be with launching this large endeavor,” she said, adding that he has a hands-off governing style to begin with.
Astorino campaign spokesman William O’Reilly said the Democratic legislators are “performing their part in the political show, nothing more than that.”
“Westchester is a very well-run county under Rob Astorino, and it will continue to be,” he said. “Funny, they never seem to chime in when Andrew Cuomo is traveling the country raising money.”
Smith said that Astorino has made the tough, sometimes unpopular decisions in Westchester that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not made at the state level. He said Cuomo, of New Castle, is benefiting from flat property tax levies in the last three county budgets.
While Westchester has the highest property taxes in New York, Astorino said it has reduced its spending and cut taxes more than any other county in the state. His run for governor will be an opportunity to promote those achievements, as well as the creation of about 30,000 jobs, the reinvention of Playland and others, Smith said.
“He’s a very talented public official,” Maisano said of Astorino. “I think he’ll make a strong candidate for the Republican Party and he’s got a lot of things to improve.”