Town Justice Sal Lagonia conducts the Oath of Office at Yorktown Town Hall.
On January 1st swearing-in ceremonies were taking place all across the Hudson Valley. I was honored to be sworn in as part of the Yorktown ceremony at Town Hall. Supervisor Michael Grace and his running mates Dave Paganelli, Nick Bianco and Gary Raniolo, as well as sitting members Terrence Murphy and Vishnu Patel invited me to participate in Yorktown’s event. I thank them very much for the opportunity. It was particularly appropriate since due to the redistricting changes to District 1, I now represent a much larger portion of the town.
Both the day and the event were wonderful and gave me pause to look back on my first term as a Westchester County Legislator. This was my sixth time participating in such an event and each time, whether it was as a city councilman, mayor or legislator I was truly humbled by the support and enthusiasm of those in attendance.
On December 22nd I signed the official county record book for County Clerk Tim Iodoni.
It is always a time of hope and pride to be at the start of a new term in office and to know that thousands of people put their faith in me to represent them. It is a responsibility I have always taken very seriously and keep in mind every day I serve in office.
I am proud of my first term as legislator and appreciate the opportunity given me by the citizens of Cortlandt, Peekskill and Yorktown. I pledged to work to reduce taxes and that is what we were able to do. In 2010 overall county taxes were reduced by 2.2% with even higher reductions in each of municipalities in my district. Just before Christmas the county board passed the budget for 2012 with a 0% tax increase. Combining my first two years as county legislator with my final three years as Mayor of Peekskill where we had a 0% tax increase each year means that there is an overall tax decrease for my last 5 years in office. I feel good about that, but there’s much more to do.
Reducing the tax burden cannot happen without significant reductions in spending. Over the last two years we were able to cut county spending by over $100 million and significantly downsize government. This was all done without gutting essential services, especially those for our most vulnerable residents. Jobs were saved, programs such as Arts Westchester and Cornell Cooperative Extension continue and major infrastructure projects for my district were completed and funding for others was secured.
At the start of a new year and a new term I would like to say thank you. Thank you to the citizens of District 1 who have once again given me the opportunity to serve. Together we will be able to make Westchester a great place to live.
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.