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

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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 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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