Republican Legislators Call on Democrats to Stop Partisan Political Games, Refocus on Legislative Tasks


The Full GOP Caucus (L-R): Gordon Burrows (Whip), Sheila Marcotte, Bernice Spreckman, James Maisano, John Testa (Minority Leader), Michael Smith, David Gelfarb.

Today, several Republican Legislators are calling on their Democrat counterparts to stop shilling for Governor Cuomo and do their jobs. The majority of Democrat Legislators were ‘no shows’ at the State of the County Address on Thursday evening, many of them the same Legislators that walked out on their obligation to vote for the 2013 County Budget. Their refusal to attend the State of the County address may have been intended as a demonstration of disrespect to County Executive Rob Astorino but Republicans say it was a slap in the face to their constituents. Along with County Board Chairman Michael Kaplowitz three other Democrats, Legislators, Lyndon Williams (D)(Mount Vernon), Ben Boykin (D) (White Plains, Scarsdale, West Harrison) and Virginia Perez (D) (Yonkers), attended the Board of Legislators meeting where the State of the County was delivered.

Minority Leader, Legislator John Testa (R) (Cortlandt, Peekskill, Yorktown) said the boycott may have been intended as a slight to the County Executive but it has real effects on the Democrat’s work on the Board of Legislators. “In this term under the Board’s new leadership, we have heard the mantra of ‘bipartisanship’ from day one and the Republican caucus has strived every day to live up to that standard but the level of petty, partisan, political games engaged in by some Democrats has not only continued but has ramped up in recent days.” Testa added, “They may think it’s cute to play games like this because the County Executive is running for Governor but the damage they cause to their working relationships with their fellow Legislators is very real. I hope that these Legislators will grow up and start acting like the leaders their communities elected them to be.”

In addition to the boycott of the County Executive’s presentation on Thursday, earlier this week, the same Democrats proposed a resolution to the Board of Legislators, calling for a special election for County Executive. The resolution cites the fact that the County Executive is running for Governor as the reason for a new election and offers the logic that elected officials aren’t able to fulfill their duties while campaigning.

Minority Whip, Legislator Gordon Burrows, noted the sad irony that this group of Democrats would propose a resolution that has no chance of passing and that is designed solely as a weapon to hurt the Westchester County Executive and to benefit their friend Governor Andrew Cuomo. “This is going to be a long campaign and I hope that my colleagues on the Board of Legislators are able to refocus on the important issues before this board instead of using their positions and this board’s good will and authority to score cheap political points for the Governor. Their jobs here in Westchester are important and whatever their ambitions are for themselves and their party bosses in Albany, they need to get out of the mud and live up to the stature of their elected offices.”

This group of Democrats has a long history of attempting political stunts that ultimately backfire on them. When the Board of Legislators met to pass the 2013 budget, eight Democrats walked out of the budget meeting when things weren’t going their way. They refused to return for a vote, in fact they turned of the lights and microphones in the Board’s chambers and blasted the sound of a bell into the room in a juvenile attempt to disrupt the important business of the Legislature. This action by the Democrats has become the touchstone for petty partisanship and the hallmark of the previous Board leadership’s tenure.

Legislator Sheila Marcotte (R) (Eastchester, New Rochelle, Tuckahoe) lamented the fact that two newly elected Democrats have apparently bought into the flawed logic of their fellow Democrats, using their authority as Legislators to engage in political games like the proposed resolution. “It is sad to see that the good faith and bipartisanship that we have all been aiming for here at the Westchester Board of Legislators is being compromised in an effort to malign the County Executive. We have come to expect many of the Democrats to engage in this kind of silliness but I am particularly concerned that two new legislators are inclined to engage in these antics.” Marcotte added, “A resolution by the Board of Legislators is a serious statement that is meant to reflect the will of the board. When people debase their offices by using an official mechanism that is available to us as elected county officials in an effort to embarrass other elected county officials, we erode the confidence that the public has in this legislative body. I hope that not just the two new Legislators will rethink this ill-advised type of political theater but that all of my Democratic colleagues will come to appreciate the gravity of this legislature and their sacred responsibility to uphold the ethics and standards of their own offices.”

Legislator Michael Smith (R) (Mount Pleasant, North Castle, Pleasantville) noted that legislative actions frequently have reactions and unintended consequences. “We have some very serious issues that we are dealing with at the Board of Legislators and this type of foolishness is a distraction from the work that we’ve been sent here to do. I would have expected this type of thing in the past but have come to believe my democratic colleagues had chosen leadership and a new game plan that would eschew the type of partisanship that this resolution foments.” Legislator Smith added, “I am very embarrassed by their behaviors. The hard-working taxpayers that they allegedly represent are entitled to much greater professionalism from their elected representative.”

The resolution calling for a special election for County Executive has been placed on the agenda for the Monday, May 5th Board of legislators meeting.

About Legislator John G. Testa

John G. Testa, a life-long resident of Peekskill, began his first term on the Westchester County Legislature in January 2010. Prior to his successful run for the District 1 Legislative seat, he served 3 terms as Mayor of Peekskill from January 2002 until December 2007. Before becoming mayor he also served a four-year term as a Councilman. From his first days in office Testa worked tirelessly to set the City on the path of economic stability. Peekskill flourished under this plan, increasing the city fund balance to its highest in history. During John’s tenure in office, the NY State Comptroller’s Office named Peekskill one of the most fiscally sound municipalities in the State; independent auditors proclaimed Peekskill as being in its best fiscal condition in over 30 years; and Moody’s Investor Service agreed to upgrade its bond rating, resulting in further savings. The plan he put in place was so successful that it enabled the City of Peekskill to pass three budgets in a row with a 0% tax increase. These fiscal skills will prove valuable to Testa as he works to put the brakes on what has been wildly escalating county spending and unchecked government growth. He has pledged his efforts to work to consolidate services, eliminate wasteful spending and improve efficiency. In addition to the fiscal conservatism that served Peekskill so well, Testa worked to promote the city, attracting investment, jobs and an increased tax base. Over $100 million of private investment came to Peekskill in the forms of new residential construction, retail space, and the redevelopment of historic structures. As Mayor, Testa led a successful battle to stop the unfair and unsafe plan to send sewage to the Peekskill plant from outside the sewage/water district. John’s roots are deep within the soil of Northern Westchester. His father’s family has lived here for more than a century and his mother’s family is nearing that mark. He is proud that he was born in Peekskill and has lived and worked here all his life and, with his wife Nancy raised their two children here.
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