As the only Republican member of the Appointments Committee of the Board of Legislators I participate in the preliminary interview and approval process for individuals proposed for various positions in county government, including Commissioners and other ranking administration officials.
Traditionally, the County Executive recommends those individuals for administrative positions that are not only qualified but also fit into the administration’s governmental philosophy. It is also the tradition on all levels of government that the chief executive selects the members of his/her administration. Pure politics should never prevent or influence the approval process of such nominees.
Unfortunately, at the January 10th meeting, the Democratic members of the Appointments Committee chose party politics over good government by not only refusing to recommend approval of two important administrative appointments but they actually produced pre-prepared resolutions recommending the “disapproval” of those candidates! After I made the motion to approve the first nominee, Ed Buroughs for Planning Commissioner, there was no second from either of the Democratic members of the Committee. Then, voila, they produced a pre-drafted resolution and voted to disapprove Mr. Buroughs.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Committee Chairman Bill Burton proposed to move on to the next order of business on the agenda, which was the “Discussion Only” topic of Ms. Mary Mahon for Director of Real Estate. To my dismay Mr. Burton then produced another resolution to vote to “disapprove” her appointment. I was appalled! It is well known that an item on an agenda for “discussion only” is not to be voted on but “discussed.” After my objection Mr. Burton agreed that this may be true but he stated that in this case there would be a vote. As with the previous vote both Mr. Burton and the other Democratic member in attendance, Judy Myers, voted to disapprove Ms. Mahon. In both cases I voted “no” on their resolutions.
What makes this political maneuver even more despicable is that both Mr. Buroughs and Ms. Mahon are extensively experienced and highly qualified for the positions in which they are recommended. In fact both have been performing the duties of these positions as “Acting” Commissioner and Director since early in 2010 – and doing an outstanding job! Their appointments should be merely a formality.
Fortunately, the full 17 member Board of Legislators still has the final vote to officially approve or disapprove these nominees at the Tuesday January 18th meeting. Hopefully there will be a bi-partisan majority support for these two fine nominees. A message must be sent that this partisan gamesmanship must end.
The Journal News covered this issue in today’s edition. Read it on line here:
About John G. Testa
Former District 1 County Legislator, John G. Testa is served five terms at the Westchester County Board of Legislators, spending the last 3 terms as BOL Minority Leader.
John G. Testa is a lifelong resident of Peekskill who first entered elected public service as a member of the Peekskill Common Council in 1998 and then served three terms as Mayor. He previously served on the Conservation and Parks Advisory Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. John became an elected official eager to improve the City in which his family has lived for more than a century and quickly earned a reputation as a strong, independent, nonpartisan voice for fiscal responsibility.
John received a BS degree in Technology from SUNY Oswego, where his academic achievements gained him induction into Epsilon Pi Tau, the International Honorary Fraternity of Technology. He earned his MS degree in Technology from the City College of New York. He began his teaching career in 1980 at Peekskill High School, his alma mater, as an instructor in Technology and Social Studies, retiring in 2013 after 33 years teaching.
John has been a leader in support for the Arts Community in Westchester. He presided over the construction of the Peekskill Art Lofts, the establishment of the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, and the complete restoration of the Paramount Center for the Arts, originally a 1930’s movie house and helped bring critical funding to many Westchester programs. Legislator Testa received the “Advancing the Arts in Westchester Award” by ArtsWestchester.
John has a been a leader on environmental issues for two decades and has a long record of initiatives he has supported and spearheaded. His active involvement in developing and promoting environmentally friendly policies began as mayor and continued throughout his time as Westchester County Legislator. His efforts consistently earned John the endorsement of the NY League of Conservation Voters.
John’s most recognizable accomplishment has been his promotion and preservation of local history and historic landmarks, bringing an unprecedented focus on the region’s rich history, and its legacy of historic Victorian architecture. His roots in historical preservation stem from his experience as a Revolutionary War re-enactor and member of The Brigade of the American Revolution for 50 years.
John was instrumental in securing the preservation of the Lincoln Depot, now the Lincoln Depot Museum, where he now serves as President. The museum was recognized in 2015 as one of The Best Museums in Westchester. He also secured the preservation of historic Fort Hill as parkland, a 40-acre parcel that was originally a Revolutionary War encampment site. Under his leadership, the United States Dept. of the Interior declared Peekskill a “Preserve America Community.”
John was able to establish a record number of National Register designations of local structures, including the first Downtown and Neighborhood Historic Districts and supported the preservation of the historic Miller House in North White Plains. In 2017 John was named a “Champion of History” by the Lincoln Society in Peekskill.
John and his wife of 37 years, Nancy, live in Peekskill and have two adult children, John, Jr. (fiancé Courtney Kelly) and Katy (husband Mike Mearon). John and Nancy recently welcomed the arrival of their first grandchild, Lacey Mae, in 2019.
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